Los Angeles’ homeless population must be offered housing by fall, judge orders

LOS ANGELES — A federal judge overseeing a $1 billion plan to combat homelessness in Los Angeles issued a passionate 110-page order outlining his expectations and condemning officials’ ineffectiveness to date in addressing the crisis.

“All of the rhetoric, promises, plans and budgeting cannot obscure the shameful reality of this crisis – that year after year, there are more homeless Angelenos, and year after year, more homeless Angelenos die on the streets,” U.S. District Judge David O. Carter wrote in the order, granting a preliminary injunction sought by the plaintiffs last week.

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Specifically, Carter ordered the city and county to shelter all women and children on Los Angeles’ Skid Row within 90 days and every homeless person in the downtown area by mid-October, The Guardian reported.

Elizabeth Mitchell, the attorney for the LA Alliance for Human Rights, clarified the reach of Carter’s sweeping order.

“Skid Row is the epicenter of homelessness in the country, so I think the idea being if we can solve homelessness on Skid Row, we can do that anywhere,” Mitchell told KABC.

According to the TV station, more than an estimated 2,100 people live on Skid Row’s streets.

“But, this ruling is not limited to Skid Row. I want to be very clear. That billion dollars is going to address homelessness throughout the city,” Mitchell added.

The alliance, the plaintiff in the lawsuit which resulted in the $1 billion award Carter now holds in escrow, is comprised of business owners and community members disgruntled by local officials’ inaction in addressing the crisis, KABC reported.

Carter’s filing was made a day after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti vowed to spend nearly $1 billion in the coming year to address the crisis, The Guardian reported.

“…That $1 billion, as represented by Mayor Garcetti, will be placed in escrow,” with a spending plan “accounted for and reported to the Court within seven days,” Carter wrote.

“[Carter] didn’t use the word receivership in his order, but it sure sounds like it to me. He’s taking that billion dollars and saying, ‘You can’t touch a dime of it until you run your spending plan past me,’ and I say that’s OK,” Mitchell told KABC.

In addition to the shelter mandate, Carter also ordered the city’s auditor to examine all public money spent in recent years to combat homelessness, including funds from a 2016 bond measure approved by voters to create 10,000 housing units over a decade, The Guardian reported.

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