In a deal approved today by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, the City and County of Los Angeles have agreed to provide shelter beds for nearly 7,000 homeless persons living in encampments near freeways, as well as seniors and others vulnerable to COVID-19.
Under the agreement, the City is committed to create 6,000 new beds over the next 10 months, augmenting 700 beds which were already planned to be built over the next 18 months. The County will provide $300 million to fund essential services at the facilities over a five-year period.
The agreement is the result of a May 15 order from Judge Carter, which called on the City and County to relocate persons camped within 500 feet of freeways into a shelter bed or some other form of housing.
The deal between the City and County was finalized one week after the announcement of the 2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, which found that there are 66,433 Los Angeles County residents experiencing homelessness - an increase in 12.7 percent from the previous year. That number predates the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to devastating job losses in Southern California, prompting fears of a dramatic increase in evictions and homelessness.
The spread of the novel coronavirus has already forced local officials to search for new shelter facilities for the region's homeless population, turning to hotels and even local parks. However, the results of these efforts have generated fewer beds that expected. Project Roomkey, the campaign to lease empty hotel rooms, has provided shelter for approximately 3,600 people - far below the stated goal of 15,000.
Judge Carter's order came about as part of a lawsuit between the City of Los Angeles and the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights. For more background on the issue, see coverage from the Los Angeles Times.