City Council approves settlement of LA homelessness lawsuit – Daily News

The Los Angeles City Council approved a settlement with the LA Alliance for Human Rights on Wednesday, May 11, in which the city will spend up to $3 billion over the next five years to develop as many as 16,000 beds or housing units for the homeless, enough to accommodate 60% of the homeless population in each of the 15 City Council districts.

The settlement of the federal case does not include Los Angeles County, which is also a defendant in the lawsuit, but city officials said the county will be responsible for providing services and housing for homeless individuals with serious mental illness, substance-use issues or chronic physical illnesses.

City leaders said the county must provide services for that segment of the homeless population, since it has the medical and social-work facilities to do so — while the city does not.

The actual number of housing units and beds the city will be required to build under the settlement remains uncertain, pending the results of the recently conducted “point-in-time” countywide homeless count. But city officials estimate that meeting the terms of the settlement will require the addition of 14,000 to 16,000 beds, costing between $2.4 billion and $3 billion.

A large portion of those required units are believed to be already in the planning stages with funding from the 2016 voter-approved Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond measure to fund homelessness solutions.

According to the most recent homeless count, conducted prior to the pandemic in 2020, the countywide homeless population was 66,433, a nearly 13% increase from the previous year. The city of Los Angeles homeless population was 36,165, up 14% from the prior year.

The county was named as a co-defendant with the city in the March 2020 complaint, but it recently withdrew from closed-door settlement talks in Los Angeles federal court.

Los Angeles County “must step up and do their part,” City Council President Nury Martinez told reporters at a news conference in April at City Hall.

In February, U.S. District Judge David Carter ordered a series of mandatory settlement talks to begin after city and county representatives indicated they had no sense of when or if they might strike a deal that would lead to an agreement with the Alliance — an association of downtown residents, homeless individuals and property owners who filed the suit.

The lawsuit brought by the L.A. Alliance had been on hold almost since it was filed, with the goal of forcing local government to “comprehensively” deal with the homelessness crisis downtown.

Settlement talks eventually expanded from the original lawsuit focus of downtown’s Skid Row area to the thousands of transients living under or next to the region’s freeways, then ultimately to the county’s entire homeless population.

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