A federal judge is expected to hear from Los Angeles city and county officials Tuesday as part of efforts to determine why some sanitation facilities installed in downtown’s Skid Row area are not fully operational.
The hearing is part of a closely watched lawsuit involving homelessness and the advent of COVID-19 on Skid Row.
U.S. District Judge David Carter wrote that on Friday he attempted to use four of the hand-washing stations that were in place in downtown Los Angeles prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, and found no water in any of them.
Of an additional 60 outdoor sinks that were supposed to be installed by last weekend, “the court also attempted to use two of the newly delivered hand-washing stations; one was fully functional, and one had soap but no water,” Carter wrote.
Although the sample size is small, “the court’s observations raise a strong inference that there are inadequate sanitation facilities available in Skid Row,” the judge wrote in the order for the latest status conference.
Accompanied by Los Angeles Police Department officers during his Skid Row walking tour Friday, Carter encountered an employee from Andy Gump Inc., “who advised that he was working on instructions from his employer to remove 50 of the company’s existing hand-washing stations from Skid Row,” the judge wrote.
Los Angeles City Attorney Michael Feuer previously told the court that by the end of this week, the city would have deployed 50 additional portable toilets and 60 additional hand-washing stations in the Skid Row community.
But Carter pointed out that “if 50 of the existing hand-washing stations are removed, Skid Row will see a net gain of only 10 hand-washing stations. This minimal increase supports the inference that the sanitation facilities in Skid Row continue to be inadequate to meet the exigencies of the COVID-19 health crisis.”
The lawsuit was brought by the L.A. Alliance, a coalition of Skid Row-area business owners, formerly homeless and disabled city dwellers, against Los Angeles 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 late last week, there were nine confirmed cases of coronavirus among Los Angeles’ homeless population, said Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
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