LA city, county commit millions in funding as part of settlement in federal homelessness lawsuit

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ByRob Hayes via KABC logo
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
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Los Angeles city and county have finally reached a settlement in a longstanding federal lawsuit over how they are dealing with homelessness.

Los Angeles city and county have finally reached a settlement in a longstanding federal lawsuit over how they are dealing with homelessness.

The lawsuit was filed more than two years ago by the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights, and last April the city said it had reached an agreement with the group. But L.A. County negotiators took until now to work out a deal.

In a joint news conference Monday morning, L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell said the county will commit an additional $236 million over the next five years to fund homeless services while the city of Los Angeles will pitch in $74 million.

Matthew Umhofer, the attorney representing L.A.H.R., said the new settlement creates a new path for homelessness funding and resources.

"A path that will lead to housing and shelter and services for thousands of people suffering on the sidewalks of Skid Row and throughout this city," he added.

Just last week, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority released its latest homelessness survey results, showing the county's homeless population is up more than 4% compared to the last survey in 2020. The city of Los Angeles saw its homeless population rise 1.7% over the same time period.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says the new agreement will build upon the city's successes over the past eight years.

"When people said, 'Build more shelters, maybe five or six, we said 'We'll do 15.' (We) wound up with 28," Garcetti said. "We brought in 130,000 unhoused people."

But Andy Bales, the president and CEO of the Union Rescue Mission, is less complimentary of the new settlement. He said the city and county have been slow to act on the homelessness problem for years.

"I'm not fully satisfied with where it's heading," Bales told Eyewitness News. "And it's sad that it took a lawsuit to get the city and the county to step up and address homelessness in this way."

Bales adds that the agreement is full of non-committal language and loopholes that could lead to unkept promises down the line.

"There's a lot of 'If this is funded...' and 'We will do our best...,' rather than 'We are definitely going to work together to address homelessness," said Bales. "We need immediate, urgent shelter."

But despite Monday's announcement, the new funds and services are at least more than a month away, as the county's side of the settlement still needs to be approved the judge in the case.