The Los Angeles federal judge overseeing a lawsuit dealing with the homeless crisis in Los Angeles Wednesday ordered the parties involved to offer explanations and solutions for the “horrific” rise in homeless deaths, dozens of which were caused by the coronavirus.
The single-page order issued by U.S. District Judge David Carter stated that homeless deaths are now up 36% in Los Angeles County — 1,141 deaths in the first 10 months of the year, compared to 837 in the same period last year.
“That’s a rise of nearly four deaths per day,” the judge wrote. “Even accounting for 47 Covid-19-related deaths through October, this means at least a 31% rise of deaths amongst our homeless citizens.”
Carter put both sides in the suit “on notice that the court will expect the parties to address what efforts they have made, particularly with regard to immediately providing shelter, housing and services, to address this horrific figure” at a status conference set for Thursday.
As a result of the suit, the city and county reached a joint agreement to provide 6,000 beds for persons experiencing homelessness by April and an additional 700 beds in the months thereafter. However, the per-unit cost of temporary housing remains controversial.
In a recent court filing, the city reported that hundreds of people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles have left the streets and entered housing since June and shelter has been provided for at least 20 people previously located within 500 feet of a freeway.
The suit was filed in March by the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights, a coalition of non-profits, service providers, small business owners, residents and community leaders that seek to compel Los Angeles city and county officials to address the homelessness crisis.
The judge has focused on removing homeless people from campsites within 500 feet of a freeway due to health concerns. But without enforcement of a city ordinance ordering those people to leave, plans have apparently stalled.
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