The LA Alliance for Human Rights has filed a federal lawsuit in an effort to force Los Angeles officials to provide thousands of shelter beds for the homeless.
The lawsuit accuses Los Angeles officials of failing to address the homelessness crisis. It asks a judge to set a “legally enforceable mandate” to create homeless services and beds for anyone who needs one on any given night.
The suit claims that residents have to deal with public health risks, blocked sidewalks, untreated mental illness and addiction, environmental hazards and increased crime on a daily basis.
“It is difficult for the housed and it is deadly for the unhoused,” said Elizabeth Mitchell, an attorney for the Alliance who previously served in the Los Angeles city attorney’s office. “We have current and formerly homeless folks, standing together with residents and small businesses and community leaders to really stand up and tell the city and the county this needs to change.”
The alliance describes itself as a “grassroots group of community members” that includes downtown residents, small business owners, non-profits, service providers and community leaders.
Norman Eagle owns an industrial property near downtown Los Angeles and said that sidewalk encampments block the entrances to his buildings. He supports the lawsuit because he’s frustrated with city’s inability to clean up trash and human waste.
“As a landlord I want my tenants to feel safe and secure when they come to work,” he said.
Gary Blasi, professor emeritus of law at University of California, Los Angeles, has doubts that a federal court would take on this case.
“A judge is not going to oversee the governments of the city and the county to deal with this problem, as complicated as it is,” he said.
The lawsuit alleges that beds should be made available more quickly and cheaply than under current city and county plans. It says that all options should be considered, including shared housing, huge tents, tiny houses and 3D printed homes.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office made the following statement about the lawsuit.
“The City Attorney will review the lawsuit. Los Angeles is responding to this homelessness crisis by providing additional services and building 30 temporary shelters and 7,500 units of permanent housing for our homeless neighbors as quickly as possible. In addition, we are working with Governor Newsom and State Legislators to call for an annual funding commitment for affordable housing and homelessness programs so we can assist more Angelenos in need.”