Months after a judge rejected their first attempt, Los Angeles County officials announced a settlement that they hope will eventually settle a long-running federal lawsuit over the district’s treatment. area for the homeless.
The agreement, announced Wednesday, will commit the county to providing an additional 1,000 beds for people with mental health problems and substance use disorders.
County officials first announced a settled by September, that would nearly double the number of outreach groups serving people with severe mental illness and add 300 mental health and substance use beds, among other investments to help the most vulnerable residents of the region. The settlement is expected to signal the end of a years-long legal battle with the Los Angeles Coalition for Human Rights, a coalition of downtown residents and business groups that have sued both the city and the city. county in March 2020 for failing to address homelessness comprehensively.
But US District Judge David Carter refused to ratify the deal, saying the county had failed to provide enough beds for people with mental illness or substance abuse problems and that there was no way to guarantee it. assured that the county would uphold its position in the settlement.
On a November hearingHe said the two sides “could do better.”
County leaders think they’ve done it.
“This agreement shows that we did, and I hope Judge Carter agrees and signs this agreement,” Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn said in a statement. “The county is committed to significantly increasing our resources and we are happy to let this litigation go so we can devote our full attention to helping the people and communities in need of our help. .”
Under the terms of the new agreement, the county has committed to providing 700 new mental health and substance use disorder beds, bringing the total number of these beds to 1,000. The agreement would also require the county to provide 450 new grants for beds primarily used by severely mentally ill people at risk of homelessness.
The revised agreement stipulates that the county will open 610 beds this year, 300 by June 30, and an additional 310 by December 31. The remaining 390 beds will be spread over the next two years.
Daniel Conway, a union policy adviser, said the increase in the number of beds was a “meaningful improvement” but added that he was not sure how it would be received from the judge.
“At the same time, it’s clear that we need thousands more,” he said. “And so we’re pleased with the progress, but again, not sure how the court will react.”
Several homeless advocates who reviewed the agreement said they believe the county is once again flawed.
“This is a county trying to get out by doing almost nothing,” said Andy Bales, executive director of the Union Rescue Mission. “When I saw this document, I was very disappointed. This won’t come close to addressing the need.
Bales said he was expect the revised settlement to provide up to 3,000 new beds after Carter rejected the original settlement, and Hahn and Supervisor Hilda Solis told the judge the county could do better.
Bales also opposes the gradual rollout of new beds over several years.
“You know conditions on the sliding row” he say. “We need the bed immediately. I’m hoping and praying that the judge will refuse and say, ‘We’re not going to let you off the hook so easily.’ “
Deal comes later urge from Mayor Karen Bass, who was make homelessness a priority, to redo the legal settlement and give the parties more time to come to a resolution. City of Los Angeles settled part of the lawsuit in April 2022, agreeing to add enough beds over the next five years to accommodate more than half of the homeless in the area.
Both Solis and Hahn credit the mayor for helping them draft the new agreement.
“This deal means more beds and services for our homeless residents, including those who live on Skid Row in my county,” it said. Solis in a statement. “I look forward to partnering with the City of Los Angeles as we continue to execute on strategies we know will bring people indoors.
Judge Carter is expected to review the settlement at a hearing on Thursday.