City of LA to Provide 5000 Homeless Beds

After frenzied weeks of negotiating, the city and county of Los Angeles announced an agreement Thursday to create 5,300 beds for homeless people over the next 10 months, rising to 6,000 over a year-and-a-half.

These beds will be provided to comply with a court order issued last month by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter that requires city, county and homelessness officials to provide space in shelters or alternative housing for the estimated 6,000 to 7,000 county residents living near freeway overpasses, underpasses and ramps. The two parties had previously been at loggerheads over how to fund a plan to help these people.

Carter has been presiding over the case since March, when the advocacy group L.A. Alliance for Human Rights sued public agencies across the county, accusing them of allowing unsafe and inhumane conditions in homeless camps.

His order came as the city and county are attempting, through a statewide initiative called Project Roomkey, to house people in hotels who are over 65 and most susceptible to the coronavirus. That population in addition to people living near freeways will be eligible for the new beds.

The deal agreed to Thursday will eventually provide for 6,000 new beds after 18 months. City and county officials said these beds could be different forms of shelters including but not limited to sanctioned camp sites, interim housing and buildings that are purchased by the city.

Elected officials including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Council President Nury Martinez and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas attended court Thursday in an ornate ballroom in the Alexandria Hotel. That's where Carter's freewheeling sessions have taken place since the pandemic shuttered the federal courthouse.

They all hailed the agreement as a sign of a continued commitment to improving the plight of people living on the street.

Garcetti said in court that if the effort succeeds he's hopeful it will inspire more commitments from the state and federal government to help address the crisis on city streets.

If people can be moved into the new beds, "I'm confident we'll see the first reduction in homelessness in five or six years," he said.


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