Los Angeles city and county officials have apparently agreed on a plan to pay for the emergency housing of thousands of indigent people living near the freeway system and will discuss their efforts at a hearing Thursday.

A federal judge last month appointed a mediator to oversee efforts to resolve the financial sticking point which has delayed settlement of a lawsuit accusing city and county governments of not doing enough to address the homeless problem in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The arbitrator has apparently helped officials find a solution to the question of responsibility for costs associated with bringing the homeless indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Court documents suggest attorneys have solved the problem of respective financial responsibilities for operational costs at shelters or similar alternative housing options, including payments for security, hygiene, food and case management for persons experiencing homelessness.

That group includes those living within 500 feet of a freeway overpass, underpass or ramp, according to Los Angeles federal court filings.

In mid-May, U.S. District Judge David Carter ordered Los Angeles authorities to move thousands of homeless people away from freeways and ramps because of the deadly hazards in those areas, including pollutants, passing cars and potential earthquakes.

Carter said the county and city governments must provide alternative shelter to the 6,000 to 7,000 people who live under the freeways and on exit and entrance ramps.

Carter indicated the temporary injunction would go into effect on May 22, but allowed the parties to submit an alternative agreement. Talks broke down over shared funding, leading to the joint request for a second judge to oversee the dispute.

“It is regrettable that this ongoing endeavor to develop humane and sustainable responses to the challenges of homelessness is beleaguered by a legacy of bureaucratic entanglement and gridlock,” Carter wrote in court papers last month.

Carter then gave authorities until Sept. 1 to relocate anyone camped within 500 feet of a freeway. Housing options would include shelters, safe parking sites for recreation vehicles, or hotel or motel rooms. Carter required an initial status report to be filed by June 12, which was later extended to Thursday morning.

The lawsuit, filed in March by a group of downtown business owners and residents called the LA Alliance for Human Rights, alleges the city and county of Los Angeles have failed to protect the public and provide adequate shelter for those living on the streets. Plaintiffs sought to have a judge set a mandate to establish homeless services and sleeping options.

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