On April 1, leaders of the City of Los Angeles stood alongside the plaintiffs for the LA Alliance to announce that they have reached an agreement in the LA Alliance for Human Rights v. City of Los Angeles lawsuit. In this agreement, the City will substantially increase the number of housing and shelter opportunities within the City of LA as they improve access to shared public spaces for all Angelenos, both housed and unhoused.
“We have families living in tents, women fleeing domestic violence sleeping in parks, people clearly struggling with mental illness walking our streets alone at night,” said Council President Nury Martinez. “I’m proud that this city has stepped up – we are building and doing our part to house our unhoused neighbors; but we can’t do this alone. We need the County of Los Angeles to provide mental healthcare, substance abuse treatment, and outpatient rehab beds. We cannot work in silos, we need to work together if we’re going to truly work to solve the homelessness crisis in the City of Los Angeles.”
The lawsuit by the LA Alliance for Human Rights — an association of downtown residents, individuals experiencing homelessness, small business owners and property owners — was filed over two years ago challenging how the City and the County of Los Angeles were addressing the homelessness crisis.
“Homelessness is the most urgent moral and humanitarian crisis of our time, and it demands we put every available resource into proven strategies to end its vicious cycle,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “This settlement seals our commitment to finding solutions for our unhoused neighbors, holds us accountable to make the necessary investments, and will help us to build a future where no one has to suffer on our streets.”
The original lawsuit called for local government agencies to be legally mandated to provide housing opportunities space to the unhoused people living on the street in Los Angeles County. In the past two years the city has brought online nearly 7,000 new housing and shelter solutions, often referred to as interventions, including tiny homes, interim housing, Project Roomkey/Homekey, permanent supportive housing, safe parking, and congregate shelters.
Lawyers for the City and the plaintiffs will notify the Court of their intent to settle and submit an agreed-upon term sheet in which the City will create approximately a minimum of 14,000 housing options and/or housing to accommodate 60 percent of the unsheltered persons experiencing homelessness (PEH) in the City. This number is expected to be updated following the 2022 LAHSA Homeless Count.
The term sheet also calls on the County to meet its obligations to provide services to those experiencing homelessness, particularly for individuals who are suffering from illness, physical, mental, behavioral health issues, and substance use disorder for which only the county has the ability and resources to service those populations.
“We filed this lawsuit against the City and County of Los Angeles two years ago with the goal of comprehensively addressing homelessness and reclaiming public spaces for the benefit of both unhoused and housed Angelenos,” said Elizabeth Mitchell, Attorney for the LA Alliance for Human Rights. “With today’s settlement, the City is committing itself to a transformative approach that will create 14,000 new beds and a citywide strategy to humanely address encampments.
“And this isn’t just a promise, this is a legally-binding commitment that will be overseen by a federal judge. We commend our city leaders for stepping up and hope that the County Board of Supervisors will seize this opportunity to save lives and help us change the trajectory of homelessness in Los Angeles.”
Funding of housing opportunities created by the city will be at city’s sole discretion. The City of LA plans to call on the county, state, and federal government to make funding available to address this crisis and to expedite public/private partnerships that utilize private capital.
The city also plans to consider other possible funding mechanisms to pay for future housing, facilities, and services for persons experiencing homelessness.
“When it became clear that our partners at the county were not interested in collaborating, we were left with two choices. We could ride the litigation merry-go-round while people live and die on our streets or cut our own pathway forward to help as many people as possible,” said Homelessness and Poverty Committee Chair, Councilmember Kevin de León.
“We decided to lead because it isn’t our job as city leaders to play nice, country-club politics with anyone; it’s our responsibility to get the job done, get our unhoused neighbors off the streets, and deliver results for Angelenos.”
The term sheet has been filed with the Court, and once a settlement is agreed upon, the City Council will vote to finalize it.