Judge hears efforts by LA County and City to house homeless

A judge heard from lawyers from both the county and city of Los Angeles but postponed a ruling about whether to reinstate an order to compel authorities to move thousands of homeless people away from freeways and ramps because of deadly hazards like pollutants, passing cars and potential earthquakes.

The hearing in downtown Los Angeles examined agreements between the government entities to provide shelter to individuals camping within 500 feet of freeway overpasses and underpasses, as well as indigent people over age 65.

The court previously put the preliminary injunction on hold to allow the city and county to develop their own plan to provide alternative shelter to 6,000 to 7,000 people living near area highways.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter postponed a decision about whether to reinstate the May 2020 order, pending the outcome of an audit on the issue to be provided by the county in July.

Carter set another hearing on the matter for Aug. 26, at which time the court will hear testimony from the parties regarding additional progress made toward housing those living in freeway encampments. At that time, the judge said, he will further consider whether to reinstate the preliminary injunction.

The proceedings are part of a lawsuit lodged against the city and county by the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights, a group made up of downtown business owners and Skid Row residents who argue that local government had mismanaged the homelessness crisis and wasted public money while the number of people living on the streets -- thought to be about 60,000 -- increases.

An evidentiary hearing in the case is set on Thursday to discuss what city/county properties are available for use by the homeless. A discussion about "structural racism'' -- which Carter believes created and sustains the sprawling Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles -- is also expected.

Fed up with a lack of momentum in the year-old case, the judge said in April that the city and county of Los Angeles must offer housing to the homeless population of Skid Row by the middle of October. A federal appeals court put an administrative hold on the judge's decree pending the conclusion of back-to-back hearings Wednesday and Thursday to discuss possible modifications to his order, financial arrangements to pay for homeless housing and other issues.

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Although an agreement was reached in June last year to provide an additional 6,700 beds over the following 16 months, with funding for five years thereafter, impetus bogged down in disagreements and inaction, court papers show.

Carter's pending April order set a timetable for offers of shelter to be made to between 2,000 and 4,000 homeless people living on the streets of Skid Row by October. The sprawling 50-block area just blocks from Staples Center contains one of the largest populations of indigent people in the