A federal appeals panel will hear arguments Wednesday in the city and county of Los Angeles’ bid to place a stop on a judge’s order forcing local government to offer shelter to every homeless person on Skid Row by the middle of October.
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals hearing will take place at a federal courthouse in Honolulu, but will be livestreamed and archived on YouTube.
In May, the appeals court put a temporary hold on the order pending additional hearings.
The stay stems from a lawsuit brought in March 2020 in Los Angeles federal court by the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights, a coalition of downtown residents and business owners who seek to compel the city and county to find housing for the thousands of people camping on city sidewalks.
In April, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter issued the injunction ordering that all homeless inhabitants of Skid Row must be offered some form of shelter by Oct. 18, starting with single women and unaccompanied children. The city and county immediately requested that the 9th Circuit issue a stay pending appeal.
The appeals court responded that it would not issue a ruling until after a May 27 hearing in Carter’s courtroom in which the role of racism would be explored as the driving force behind the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles.
The defendants filed papers arguing that racism is beside the point of the lawsuit, which does not allege a constitutional violation on the basis of race.
At the four-hour court hearing last month, government officials and community members spoke, but did not contest the existence of racism.
“Indeed, appellants acknowledged the obvious: it would be challenging, if not impossible, to find a societal dilemma in this country that is not impacted by racism. But that is not why the parties are in federal court,” according to papers filed with the 9th Circuit by the city and county.
Instead of clarifying the issues, Carter’s May 27 hearing “amplified, rather than mitigated, the need for a stay pending appeal,” the appellants wrote.
Lawyers for the city and county are expected to argue Wednesday that if the stay is not extended, local government will be “left scrambling to implement provisions in an injunction that advocates have warned will do more harm than good,” according to the filing.
“Given the court’s comments that it would not alter any deadlines, appellants will also face the dilemma of finding themselves in immediate contempt,” appellants wrote.
The county argued in its appeal that the judge’s order would disrupt significant gains made by local government in solving the homelessness crisis.