Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez says discussions are “moving in the right direction” regarding a federal lawsuit to have the city provide additional housing and shelter for people experiencing homelessness.
“L.A. is never going to get out of this crisis unless we’re all committed to this,” she told the Los Angeles Times, which reported Monday that the city appears to be moving toward a settlement of the lawsuit filed by the L.A. Alliance For Human Rights in March 2020.
“There needs to be full participation from all parties, elected officials, and even residents for us to be truly effective in our goals,” Martinez said.
The Times reviewed documents from a four-hour closed-door deliberation last month and said the council appears to be moving toward a settlement in which it would agree to provide additional shelter for homeless people and use anti-camping laws to clear out people remaining on the street.
The proposed settlement will be discussed by the council behind closed doors on Wednesday, according to the newspaper.
The proposed deal would create enough shelter over the next five years to house 60% of the homeless people in each council district, according to The Times, which cited sources familiar with the case. The proposed deal, which The Times said didn’t appear to be imminent, would also reduce the population of skid row by 33% by encouraging homeless people to move to other parts of the city.
Once housing becomes available, council members would be allowed to begin the process by clearing homeless encampments that are creating the most problems in their district, and then over time expand to other encampments, The Times reported.
Once an encampment area is chosen to be cleared, outreach workers would go to the location and a date would be set for people to relocate. After it is cleared, L.A.’s anti-camping ordinances would be enforced to prevent people from returning to the encampment.
People who receive housing, but are unhappy with it, would be able to go through a dispute-resolution process.
The Times noted that most council members seemed to be willing to accept 60% as the ratio of people that would be able to be housed. That ratio is modeled after a settlement in Orange County, which was overseen by the same judge, U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter.
Under that settlement, the remaining 40% of people experiencing homelessness “migrated away from the areas, reunited with family, resolved homelessness on their own, entered into substance abuse or mental health facilities, or other unknown result,” according to the proposal.
“There’s a model that Judge Carter used in Orange County, and I see great promise in that kind of a mode,” San Fernando Valley Councilman Bob Blumenfield told The Times.
One of the attorneys for the L.A. Alliance For Human Rights, Matthew Umhofer, told The newspaper that the lawsuit “presents a historic opportunity to make a difference on an issue that is a blight not just on our community, but sort of on the soul of the community here …”
He called it “the best opportunity the city and county have had for decades to actually resolve this issue and to actually take care of our homeless and unsheltered brothers and sisters.”
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