Attorneys from the city and county of Los Angeles Thursday morning are expected to address what a federal judge refers to as “structural racism” that he believes created and sustains the sprawling Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles.
U.S. District Judge David O. Carter wrote in April that the city and county of Los Angeles “created a legacy of entrenched structural racism,” leaving Black people — and especially Black women — “effectively abandoned on the streets. Such governmental inertia has affected not only Black Angelenos, not only homeless Angelenos, but all Angelenos — of every race, gender identity, and social class.”
The judge said that virtually “every citizen of Los Angeles has borne the impacts of the city and county’s continued failure to meaningfully confront the crisis of homelessness. The time has come to redress these wrongs and finish another measure of our nation’s unfinished work.”
Quoting Heidi Marston, director of the L.A. Homeless Services Authority, the judge concluded that “homelessness is a byproduct of racism.”
Thursday’s proceedings are part of a year-old lawsuit lodged against the city and county by the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights, a group made up of downtown business owners and Skid Row residents who contend that local government had mismanaged the homelessness crisis and wasted public money while the number of people living on the streets — thought to be over 60,000 — increases.
The hearing comes a day after a status conference in which county and city lawyers discussed a June 2020 agreement to provide beds and services for people living near local freeways. The court also is considering whether to reinstate a preliminary injunction — now on hold — to protect those individuals experiencing homelessness currently camping near highway overpasses, underpasses and ramps.
Tired of what he views as a lack of momentum in the case, Carter issued an order in April that the city and county must offer housing to the homeless population of Skid Row by the middle of October. A federal appeals court put an administrative hold on the judge’s decree pending the conclusion of Thursday’s hearing to discuss possible modifications to the order and various financial arrangements.
Carter’s order set a timetable for offers of shelter to be made to between 2,000 and 4,000 homeless people living on the streets of Skid Row by the middle of October. The sprawling 50-block area just blocks from Staples Center contains one of the largest populations of indigent people in the nation.