CALIFORNIA— An agreement has been reached between Los Angeles county and city officials on Thursday, June 18 that will aim to relocate 6,700 homeless individuals living in encampments within 500 feet of freeways and into shelters and permanent housing.
Within the next ten months, the city will commit to providing 6,000 new beds with an additional 700 to be added over 18 months. In lieu, the city will also invest $300 million over the next five years to fund essential services for the relocated occupants. The plan to relocate homeless individuals also includes housing for homeless seniors over 65-years-old and others vulnerable to the coronavirus.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbating Los Angeles’ homeless crisis, it is imperative that we marshal our County and City resources to bring our most vulnerable neighbors indoors as expeditiously as possible,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This is a new milestone in our partnership to ensure that everyone in Los Angeles has a life of dignity and worth”, he added.
The decision comes after an injunction was placed following a lawsuit on May 15, ordering county and city officials to relocate the homeless population due to unsafe conditions living by the area. U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter also noted that encampments obstruct sidewalks that are commonly utilized by pedestrian traffic.
The LA Alliance for Human Rights initially filed for the lawsuit against public officials for failing to address the ongoing homelessness crisis.
“This agreement will lead to major action, not rhetoric,” said City Council President Nury Martinez. “The Court has challenged us to do better, to do more, and to do it quickly, and we need to meet that challenge. We are now positioned to dive into difficult but honest conversations with our County partners about future financial resources and obligations. The Los Angeles City Council, and its leadership, will continue to do its duty to lead, collaborate and negotiate on behalf of the City with our County partners toward our common goal to house more homeless Angelenos faster.”
Specifics for the relocation plan will be presented by public officials on a later date. All types of housing-options are recommended to be considered according to the lawsuit, which includes shared housing, sprung tent structures, or hotel accommodations to name a few. Court documents indicate property near Los Angeles International Airport and other areas as potential locations for shelters.
As of January this year, more than 66,400 homeless people were living in LA County. Within city limits, there are over 41,000 homeless individuals. The homeless population numbers are up for both the city and county by at least 12% from last year.