County Homeless Judge Carter

Judge Carter asses homeless county. Photo courtesy ABC 2

 LOS ANGELES - A federal judge gave final approval to Los Angeles' proposed settlement with the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights in which the city will spend up to $3 billion to develop as many as 16,000 beds or housing units for non-mentally ill members of the homeless population.

  U.S. District Judge David Carter wrote that the parties have requested that the court retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement agreement for a period of five years. The pact is ``fair, reasonable, and adequate,'' he said.

``The agreement before the court was not achieved in haste -- it was the result of long and deliberate good-faith negotiations,'' the judge wrote.

Carter said the settlement ``creates a structure and enforcement mechanism for the city to create a substantial number of new beds for people experiencing homelessness. While this agreement is not a solution to homelessness, it is a concrete step toward improving the lives of our neighbors who are currently suffering on the streets.''

The Los Angeles City Council voted 12-3 last month to approve the settlement with Councilmember Mike casting one of the dissenting votes.

   Carter is overseeing the March 2020 lawsuit in which L.A. Alliance -- a coalition of downtown business owners and sheltered and unsheltered residents -- accuses the city and county of Los Angeles of failing to do its part in addressing the homelessness crisis.

Co-defendant Los Angeles County did not participate in the agreement and has scheduled closed-door mediation sessions in efforts to resolve its part of the suit.

Carter said at a hearing last week that in the two years that the case has been pending, he has seen efforts by the parties to address the homelessness problem not just in the Skid Row area but throughout the city and county. Carter has visited the 405 underpass encampment as well as met with neighbors who, at the time, lived next to the Penmar encampment. 

There is now ``an increasing effort to get thousands, not hundreds, off the streets,'' Carter said.

  While the settlement does not include Los Angeles County, city officials said the county must be responsible for providing services and housing for homeless individuals with serious mental illness, substance-use issues or chronic physical illnesses.

During a candidate forum co-hosted by the Westside Current top runners for the County Supervisor 3 seat Lindsey Horvath and Bob Hertzberg said they would support a settlement. Henry Stern said he felt the county's contention that they are "doing all they can" is absurd in light of the "five people a day dying on the streets".  Horvath recounted frustrations with getting the county to provide her city with more mental health evaluation teams, which resulted in the creation of a model for every city to do so.  She, along with the other candidates, expressed frustration with the County spending tax dollars to fight the lawsuit.  

   Skip Miller, outside counsel for the county, has said that the county``is more than doing its job and doing everything possible to address homelessness without stigmatizing it as a crime. Any assertion that the county has failed on this obligation is utterly baseless.''

   Shayla Myers of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles -- an intervenor in the case -- recently objected to the proposed settlement, saying the true goal of the city was to enforce anti-camping laws to strong-arm the unsheltered off the streets.