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On Thursday, December 16th, Judge David O. Carter conducted a status hearing to find out how the work has been progressing of creating shelter beds and clearing encampments from freeway underpasses. The goal of the agreement between Los Angeles City and County was to create 6,000 new shelter beds to add to the 700 beds already in development so that Los Angeles can provide 6,700 new beds for individuals experiencing homelessness living in underpasses, overpasses, and near freeways.
As part of the agreement, the County would give the City an additional $8 million bonus if 5,300 of those beds were “open and occupiable” by April 16, 2021. The City is confident that was achieved, but the County was doubtful.
Much of the controversy is centered around an audit the County ordered in April to verify the City’s claim that the requisite number of beds were created. The County is disputing the City’s claim and arguing that many of the beds “don’t count” as achieving the goal and, therefore, the County does not have to award the City the $8 million bonus.
The County’s auditor suggests that the City missed the mark with “uncertified” beds by as much as 52 percent. This matters because if the beds aren’t actually available, then the Court could order an evidentiary hearing which ultimately reinstates the freeway injunction he vacated last year.
Judge Carter was clear that such squabbling and delays took time and energy away from the issue of producing beds and assisting those suffering on the streets in the cold and rain. If the County and City could not work together to accomplish this small task, what were the prospects of creating even more beds and providing more treatment with a need of more than 66,000 people experiencing homelessness in the County?
LA Alliance attorney Liz Mitchell, repeating the Court’s earlier sentiments, compared the quarrel to two millionaires arguing over the cost of a hamburger while a man starved outside.
Representatives from a few councilmembers’ offices gave quick updates about the conditions of locations that Judge Carter had visited earlier in the year. Councilmember Krekorian and Blumenfeld’s representatives demonstrated successful projects which resulted in offers of shelter, services, and cleared encampments, and many areas had been restored to their pre-encampment conditions. Councilmember Bonin’s representative endured Judge Carter’s sharp tongue when Special Master Michele Martinez showed photographs of the underpass of Venice Blvd and the 405, which is still the site of a number of large encampments with many of the same residents that were living there months before, during Judge Carter’s tour.
The hearing appeared to demonstrate the reluctance of the County to break through the bureaucratic delays and inertia that has plagued the region’s response to the humanitarian crisis on the streets. It also demonstrated that people can be moved into shelter, receive services, and that public spaces can be reclaimed from homeless encampments – the very goals of the LA Alliance suit.
It is clear that the LA Alliance for Human Rights’ lawsuit has pushed the City and County to act and has brought much needed judicial oversight to cut through the unrealized political promises and bureaucratic delays. Instead of being reluctantly forced into a court order, the City and County would save time, money, and frustration by agreeing to a comprehensive settlement to provide shelter, services and treatment, and safe streets and public spaces.
Each citizen of Los Angeles can push their Councilmember and County Supervisor to act and expedite the important work of improving the lives of the unhoused and the communities across the region. Join the LA Alliance by signing up for emails and action at the LA Alliance website. Encourage your friends and neighbors to be a part of holding the City and County accountable. You can also support our work by donating making a tax-deductible donation here.· 1 reaction
By now you have probably heard that the City and County of Los Angeles have filed a motion to dismiss the LA Alliance lawsuit. As the LA Daily News puts it, this is a “closely watched federal lawsuit.”
The stakes are high, and we remain bullish that these motions, just like the previous motion to dismiss filed by the County, are attacks we will easily overcome. Our efforts to pressure the City and County are working and time is running out.
Daniel Conway, our LA Alliance spokesman, made it clear:
“With winter right around the corner, the city and county should be focusing their energy and resources on getting as many people off the streets as possible. This would have the benefits of saving lives, providing treatment and services, reducing crime and violence in our neighborhoods, and reclaiming public spaces for the entire community. Instead, the city and the county of Los Angeles spend taxpayer dollars grasping at every legal escape hatch. We hope their New Year’s resolution is to get serious about comprehensively addressing homelessness.”
In the next month, the LA Alliance will be back in court arguing for our plaintiffs and advocating for the housed and unhoused of Los Angeles. We will remind the Court of the success we’ve had in increasing the number of shelter beds and demanding additional action from the City and County to solve the homelessness crisis. Our goal is securing shelter and treatment for the unhoused and to start regulating public spaces such as sidewalks and parks.
As we reflect on the Holiday season, we remain vigilant yet humble in the fight for the vulnerable. We are mindful that too many Angelenos are denied shelter and help and that this season will be a difficult one for them.
Thank you for your support. We appreciate the opportunity to fight for Los Angeles.
Have a Happy Holiday!1 reaction
The LA Times today reported on a new poll about homelessness in the LA region. The poll, which surveyed 906 registered voters, showed that most of respondents support the plan and approach of the LA Alliance for Human Rights.
Top concerns of the respondents were:
- Need for Shelter – respondents prefer a strategy of providing shelter over creating expensive and slow to develop permanent housing to get people quickly off the streets.
- Safety – the presence of homeless encampments and individuals living on the streets makes Angelenos feel less safe and negatively impacts their quality of life.
- Services – nearly thirty percent acknowledged the failure to provide services like, treatment for mental illness.
- Frustration / impatience with elected leaders – 94 percent indicated homelessness is the top issue facing the region and 79 percent said things have gotten worse not better. In addition, 75 percent said homelessness should be the top priority for elected officials.
The LA Alliance plan calls for shelter, services and treatment, and safe and clean streets and public spaces. It is a compassionate and reasonable plan that meets the needs of the unhoused and the housed.
The plan calls for the City to ramp up its ability to create shelter space. The Alliance’s actions have already resulted in securing 6,000 shelter beds. For the first time, more than 800 beds now go vacant in LA shelters nightly.
The Alliance plan also calls on the County to provide treatment and services to those experiencing homelessness. The LA Times poll indicated that treatment and services are supported by more than half of voters.
64 percent of respondents support the clearing of encampments as part of a plan of providing shelter and services. This methodical, step-by-step, block-by-block strategy provides both for the needs of the unhoused and the regulation of public spaces sought by communities.
The LA Alliance approach uses a lawsuit to demand action from the City and the County of Los Angeles to respond to the homeless crisis. The Alliance lawsuit call for immediate action free from political influence and bureaucratic obstacles with accountability and oversight provided by the court. The LA Alliance approach follows the same successful strategy in Orange County that created hundreds of shelter beds, provided treatment and services, and cleaned up the infamous Santa Ana Riverbed encampment.
You can find out more about the LA Alliance at our website.
View and share our latest video.· 1 reaction
It’s great to read that Robin Abcarian, Opinion Columnist of the LA Times, has come around to the lack of leadership and policy that is devastating Los Angeles communities. In her article, The Venice Homeless Encampment Next Door, Abcarian acknowledges that with no leadership or sensible policy, residents of Los Angeles are left to fend for themselves in a dystopian world.
Abcarian clearly describes the situation: machete wielding, shootings, gunshots, fires, drug use and drug dealing, screaming, and fighting – all on display with no judgement or recourse. Her dispassionate portrayal of Venice makes her seem a bit sympathetic, but not enough to call out the failure of city and county leaders to address the crisis comprehensively.
Abcarian understands what it’s like to live in a community constantly confronted with the reality that is Los Angeles’ failure to help the homeless because she lives in Venice. The scene she describes is part of her daily routine.
The article is less an opinion piece than an article conveying the realities that LA residents face every day. Giving an opinion on the devastation and lawlessness on display in her neighborhood could only criticize the status quo, which normally the LA Times rationalizes and defends at all costs. Instead, it conveys a sense that the only way things will change is if something magical were to fall from the skies of Los Angeles.
The truth is, while Los Angeles’s leaders are fighting over the redistricting process and next year's elections, the LA Alliance for Human Rights has taken the initiative and is demanding change. The Alliance sued the City and the County to cut through the politics and bureaucracy to force the City and County to provide shelter, services and treatment, and safe streets. It’s sensible policy that has already made an impact as reported in another part of the LA Times.
Instead of taking the tragedy of Los Angeles in stride, as Abcarian appears to do, residents from the beach to the Valley to Downtown need to rise up and organize to put pressure on the City and County to settle the LA Alliance suit. Settling the lawsuit is the most direct, no-nonsense pathway to a comprehensive solution that would reclaim our streets and public spaces, and provide shelter and treatment to the unhoused.
The lawsuit provides the accountability and oversight that is lacking from the City Council and County Board by holding them to the legal strictures of a legally binding agreement overseen by a very dynamic judicial officer. That is what helped clean up the encampments in the Santa Ana River and the communities of Bellflower and Santa Ana. It’s what we need in Los Angeles.· 1 reaction