LOS ANGELES - The city of Los Angeles 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, under terms a settlement announced Friday of a long-running lawsuit demanding solutions to the local homeless crisis.
The settlement with the LA Alliance for Human Rights 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.
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.
There was no immediate response from the county, which issued a statement in early March — in the midst of the settlement talks between the Alliance and the city — saying it is "willing to expand investments to resolve the county's part in this lawsuit." The county noted it has committed more than $1 billion to the issue this fiscal year alone.
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"Addressing the homelessness crisis with supportive solutions that help people and communities across the entire county remains our top priority," according to the county's statement . "The county has committed unprecedented resources to this crisis, not just in the city of Los Angeles, but also in our other 87 cities and the unincorporated areas. We will continue to provide services and housing to those in need while focusing on long-term, sustainable solutions that change lives and help individuals and communities now and into the future."
County officials said that since the passage of Measure H in 2017, the county has provided housing for 78,000 people in permanent housing and 104,000 in interim housing.
The county was also named as a defendant in the March 2020 complaint, but recently withdrew from closed-door settlement talks in Los Angeles federal court.
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 a shared agreement with the association of downtown residents, homeless individuals and property owners which filed the suit.
Over the past six weeks, city and county representatives separately shuffled in and out of Carter's chambers for multi-hour meetings -- with little progress to report until last week when there were indications that a settlement was in the works.
At least twice, a seemingly exasperated Carter requested the presence of Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Nury Martinez at the confidential meetings.
During open court hearings, Carter has referred several times to a "historic schism" between the city and county that had apparently stymied previous settlement efforts.
The two entities were ostensibly supposed to come to a compromise on funding and other issues before an agreement with the L.A. Alliance could be reached.
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.
The plaintiffs argued that wherever the homeless are located, services have not kept pace with the ever-expanding crisis.
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