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Housing and Homelessness

LA County Says It Will Appeal Judge’s Rejection Of Major Homelessness Settlement

Unused shelter beds in Los Angeles.
Unused shelter beds in Los Angeles.
(Maya Sugarman
KPCC file photo)
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L.A. County officials announced late Friday they plan to appeal a judge’s rejection of their settlement deal to resolve a long-running federal lawsuit over L.A.’s systemic failures to confront homelessness.

The backstory

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter tossed the settlement deal last week, saying the county needed to promise more mental health and drug treatment beds and give him authority to make sure they follow through. “Bare minimum” was how he described the county’s plan when he rejected it last week. But the county says the judge was wrong to refuse to end the case.

The county proposed 1,000 new mental health beds over the next few years and money for another 450 people to get services at existing board and care facilities. But Carter pointed to a 2019 county report finding 3,000 new mental health beds were needed to keep up with demand — a number that’s only grown since then, he said.

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County officials are pushing back

The county filed a motion Friday stating their intent to appeal.

County lawyers wrote that they’re appealing because Carter is going beyond his authority by “attempting to dictate the County’s budget priorities and policy choices” in a case that’s been settled.

“The County regrets that it must take this step, but we feel it is necessary to prevent the parties from wasting needless time, money, and energy in court when everyone’s efforts should now be focused on helping those who need it most,” said Mira Hashmall, the county’s lead attorney in the case, in a statement.

Plaintiffs and advocates respond

The original lawsuit was filed over two years ago by a group including business owners and unhoused L.A. residents called the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights. David Conway, an advisor to the alliance, said:

“Instead of providing enough mental health beds to meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness, the county has decided to waste taxpayer money on an appeal that it has no chance of winning.”

Attorneys for unhoused advocacy groups say they agree with the county that the case should end under the existing settlement deal.

“Forcing the parties to litigate this is a waste of time and resources and a distraction from the work that will actually solve this crisis,” said Shayla Myers, an attorney representing advocacy groups in the case like Los Angeles Community Action Network.

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