Plaintiffs in homelessness suit may seek injunction

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — The plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to force the city and county of Los Angeles to quickly deal with the homelessness crisis have filed a notice of intent with the court for a preliminary injunction, which would require thousands of beds in the coming months to be opened for indigent people, according to court papers obtained March 5.

It is a first step toward placing the city and county into a court-supervised receivership in the matter, according to the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights, a coalition of downtown businesses and residents.

Undoubtedly, both the city and county will feel that such an order is diminishing their powers,” according to a statement released by the L.A. Alliance. “Yet, in the absence of a consensual agreement by the parties, court intervention becomes necessary.”

The L.A. Alliance is seeking action similar to the type of court intervention used in Brown vs. Board of Education, in which the U.S. Supreme Court issued a mandate to enforce school desegregation in 1954.

Once it is clear that the local governments are unable/unwilling to address the problem adequately, the courts must take a more active role,” according to the coalition.

In its notice of intent to file a motion for a preliminary injunction on or about March 25, the plaintiffs wrote that despite several settlement conferences and discussions, no agreement has been reached in the year-old lawsuit, and the county “appears intent on denying its role in causing this crisis in the first place.”

The death rate for persons experiencing homelessness is now up to five-per-day and the crisis on the streets is more desperate than ever. Immediate and sweeping action is needed, yet defendants drown in politicking and bureaucracy.”

According to he notice, filed March 4 in Los Angeles federal court, the plaintiffs continue to welcome settlement discussions and ask that a federal judge facilitate discussions at the city and county’s request.

Nine days after the lawsuit was filed in March 2020, the parties suspended litigation with the intent to explore settlement “and set the stage for a comprehensive solution in the city and county of L.A.,” the plaintiffs’ filing says.

Any proposed solutions now appear bogged down in bureaucratic snarls between the city and county, prompting U.S. District Judge David O. Carter — who is presiding over the case — to begin considering how he might deploy the power of the federal court to speed up efforts to get city sidewalks cleared and place homeless people into housing of some sort.

While about 8,000 beds are reportedly already in place for the needy, bureaucratic tangles and neighborhood resistance to interim or supportive housing have continually blocked the path forward, according to the L.A. Alliance.

Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin has suggested that city officials are not “nimble or forceful enough” to adequately respond to the homelessness crisis, and called for a judicial consent decree under Carter’s supervision to compel immediate action.

If the parties agree, such a decree would end the lawsuit with a settlement giving Carter power to order the city and county to build shelters and provide services.

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