The City of Los Angeles has reached a legal agreement that will potentially provide thousands of shelter beds over the next five years with an end goal of housing 60% of homeless Angelenos. The concord between the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights (LAAHR) and the City may help resolve a long running federal lawsuit over homeless housing and enforcement across the city and on skid row.
The City intends for the beds to be for people who are considered “low acuity,” meaning their physical and psychological challenges won’t require a higher level of care, said City Council President Nury Martinez. The City expects the County to handle the most extreme cases and this is reflected in the fact that the agreement was only between the City and LAAHR.
“The person who is mentally unable to take care of themselves — how is the city supposed to step in to deal with that issue?” Martinez said. “We do not run hospital beds. We’re not clinicians. We’re not social workers. The type of housing that individual would need is the responsibility of the county.”
There has been contention between the City of Los Angeles, the County and LAAHR as the parties struggled to come up with an agreement that would satisfy everyone involved. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit (LAAHR) are downtown residents, businesses and homeless groups that alleged that the city and county have failed in providing shelter to the homeless and abating a public nuisance.
County officials and City officials had negotiated together for a year before the City struck out to broker its own deal with the plaintiffs.
By meeting the 60% quota, city officials believe that they will then have the ability to enforce anti-camping measures with less controversy. Resolving this part of the lawsuit was lauded by civic leaders. Councilman Kevin de León, who represents skid row and is running for mayor, is satisfied that the agreement clearly defines whom the city is responsible for sheltering.
However, as city officials argue that the agreement is a significant step, the question remains as to what the County will ultimately come to the table with and what their end of the bargain will be. And there are others who, although hopeful, still consider the settlement not enough.
Councilman Joe Buscaino, who is running for Mayor along with de León, said he was happy that an agreement was reached but he warned that the deal would do little to accomplish opening sidewalks and clearing large encampments. He argues that even more forceful laws are needed.
“I still don’t think we’re going to see a drastic improvement on our streets,” he said of the agreement.
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