A U.S. district judge has taken an unprecedented step toward addressing homelessness in Los Angeles, California.
Judge David O. Carter issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday that orders the city and county to take measures ensuring that every person living in the homeless encampment known as Skid Row have shelter by the middle of October.
“No other place to turn”
The 110-page ruling includes quotes from Abraham Lincoln and blames overcrowding at areas like beaches and parks for the city’s inability to properly tackle the homelessness problem.
“Los Angeles has lost its parks, beaches, schools, sidewalks, and highway systems due to the inaction of city and county officials who have left our homeless citizens with no other place to turn,” the judge wrote.
According to Carter’s ruling, “systemic racism” is to blame for much of the crisis, though he failed to provide data on the ethnic and cultural makeup of the city’s homeless population.
Under his injunction, single women and children will receive priority, with the court ruling that shelter must be made available for such individuals within the first 90 days. Within 120 days, family units are ordered to be housed by local officials, and all homeless individuals must be properly housed by Oct. 18.
The monumental task will require extensive resources and governmental collaboration, especially given the deleterious impact of COVID-19, which has precipitated a spike in tent cities and other camps across the region.
“An unprecedented pace”
KTLA reported that Carter’s ruling came in the wake of Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s pledge to spend $1 billion on tackling the homelessness issue.
Taking that announcement into consideration, the judge ordered that the $1 billion be placed in an escrow account for the time being with all expenditures slated to face an audit.
A spending plan for Garcettis’ fund, Carter added, is to be “accounted for and reported to the Court within seven days.”
For his part, the mayor had little to say about the court ruling aside from his suggestion that the timelines involved were unreasonable.
“That would be an unprecedented pace not just for Los Angeles but any place that I’ve ever seen with homelessness in America,” Garcetti said, acknowledging that he had not read the entire ruling.