The L.A. Alliance for Human Rights — plaintiffs in a closely watched federal lawsuit seeking to force local government to effectively address homelessness on city streets — Thursday applauded what it calls a “massive shift” in policy in which officials are now focusing on increasing interim shelter beds, support services, and starting to clear encampments in a non-violent manner.
The Alliance, an association of downtown residents, homeless individuals and property owners, this week filed its amended suit against the city and county of Los Angeles after a federal appeals court gutted its earlier effort.
The revised complaint addresses some of the procedural issues identified by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, such as the addition of an equal protection claim based on race, which were missing from the original filing.
The filing also updates factual allegations and adds plaintiffs. The changes conform the complaint to support claims that housing failures and racism have caused and exacerbated the homelessness crisis, and that the alleged lack of action by the city and county include a discriminatory component, according to the plaintiffs.
Those arguments are aimed at securing another injunction — the first was vacated by the appeals court — against the city and county to provide shelter and treatment to the unhoused on a timetable, and to start regulating public spaces such as sidewalks and parks.
“Our actions will break through the legal and bureaucratic logjam that has failed those on the streets and our neighborhoods,” the Alliance said in a letter to supporters Thursday. “In addition, our parallel effort to build grass roots and coalition support … will put (local officials) in a corner, especially with the upcoming elections.”
The Los Angeles City Council last month approved a ban on camping at nearly 60 locations, using a new law that passed over the summer. The council outlawed sitting, sleeping and lying at 54 locations in three of its districts, and enacted new rules regulating sitting, sleeping and storing property near fire hydrants, building entrances, driveways, libraries, parks, elementary schools and other locations.
The council also asked for the expansion of resources for homeless people in these locations and for the development of new procedures to make sure those sleeping on sidewalks aren’t rousted without notice.
At nearly $1 billion, the city’s budget for the homelessness problem aims to create over 5,000 additional housing units through Proposition HHH, and includes nearly $200 million for the development of affordable housing, homeless prevention, eviction defense, and other homeless services, officials said.
Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León — appointed chair of the council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee following the suspension of former Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas — vowed this week that the council “will step up, and we will lean into this crisis with urgency.”
The councilman recently opened the largest Tiny Home Village in the United States, with 117 units and 224 beds to provide transitional housing in the Highland Park community.
“Right now, Angelenos are demanding a City Council that takes swift action to house people with compassion while restoring safety and cleanliness to our neighborhoods — and we will answer that call,” de León said.
The city has also begun to clear homeless encampments “humanely and compassionately,” according to the L.A. Alliance.
“To be clear, the city’s new efforts are a step in the right direction, although haphazard, confusing, and piecemeal,” the association said.