A federal judge Wednesday gave attorneys for the city of Los Angeles and the county until noon Friday to submit plans to service and maintain sanitation facilities on Skid Row, where newly installed outdoor sinks in the area were found to be lacking soap and water.
In the order, U.S. District Judge David Carter said it is imperative that the Skid Row community have access to functioning sanitation facilities “to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.”
On Tuesday, Carter led a contingent of county attorneys and others to Skid Row to observe the situation for themselves after the judge was promised that working sinks and facilities were being installed to help the homeless deal with the COVID-19 threat.
The field trip came after a hearing in which Los Angeles city and county officials discussed short- and long-term solutions to the problem of thousands of people living on the streets in the downtown area.
The discussions — set to resume next week — are part of a closely watched lawsuit involving homelessness and the advent of the disease on Skid Row.
An estimated 27,000 homeless people currently live downtown. The city and county have opened new shelters in recreation centers, deployed hand-washing stations and portable toilets at encampments and brought about 760 hotels and motel rooms and 500 trailers online to deal with the problem.
Los Angeles City Attorney Michael Feuer previously told the court that by Friday, the city will have deployed 50 additional portable toilets and 60 additional hand-washing stations in the Skid Row community.
The lawsuit was brought by the L.A. Alliance, a coalition of Skid Row-area business owners, formerly homeless and disabled city dwellers, against the city and county for allegedly not doing enough to find solutions to the problem of thousands of people living in tents, cars and on the streets throughout the downtown area, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
As of Wednesday, there were 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus among the homeless population in the county, said Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
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