The Los Angeles Alliance for Human Rights, a grassroots advocacy group, announced Wednesday it is suing the city and county in an effort to require both governments to provide thousands of beds for homeless people by this fall.
The organization said it is trying to have the court force the city and the county of Los Angeles to meet their “obligations to provide clean and safe streets for all.” Alliance representatives said they decided to file the lawsuit after spending several months trying to negotiate a settlement.
“Drugs, disease, death and despair have become defining features of many neighborhoods in Los Angeles. There’s no excuse for the status quo,” said Elizabeth Mitchell, an attorney who represents the alliance. “This suit is intended to catalyze change. If we entered into an agreement today, thousands of beds could be available by Thanksgiving. The longer we litigate, the more lives will be lost.”
Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office, said the office is reviewing the lawsuit and has no further comment at this time.
Calls to the Los Angeles County Counsel were not immediately returned.
Mitchell said the city and county have committed resources to the homeless crisis, but that hasn’t helped enough people, and alleged the inaction violates statutes of due process and equal protection, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Environmental Quality Act.
“The Alliance is demanding that the city and county begin working together to identify sites, sources of funding and plans for an additional 22,000 beds to be ready in a matter of months,” she said. “This can be achieved utilizing government properties and a combination of shared housing, sprung structures, tiny houses, tents, inexpensive 3D-printed homes and other financially feasible options.”
Mitchell said the lawsuit is in alignment with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Homelessness Task Force recommendation of a “legally enforceable mandate” to reduce homelessness.
Representatives of the group told City News Services they are “optimistic” about the possible outcome of the lawsuit, and that they are understanding of the challenges the governments face in trying to find permanent housing for the nearly 60,000 homeless people estimated to be living throughout the county. But they said they want the beds to be available within months, not years.
The Alliance is also seeking to compel both the city and county to create and implement “deadline-driven plans” for encampment reduction, including significant outreach by teams of social, medical and mental health workers.
The city of Los Angeles is in line to build more than 1,000 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless people by the end of this year and about another 7,000 units by 2023. The county’s Measure H is also funding ways to house people.