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City of Los Angeles Continues to Invade Homeless Camps, Despite Federal Lawsuit
Posted on Mar 17, 2016
Gilbert Mercier / Creative Commons
“On a single night in January 2015, California accounted for 26 percent of the nation’s homeless individuals,” according to a 2015 report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. On that same night, 9 percent of all homeless individuals were in a single city: Los Angeles, with 33,669. The city also topped the list for the largest number of homeless youths.
Despite these findings (as well as reports of the same types of data spanning several years), Los Angeles spent much of last year passing legislation that actively harmed the homeless. On Monday, this history of discrimination came to a boil in the form of a federal lawsuit filed against the city on behalf of its homeless.
Government has been slow to implement any positive policy measures, despite years of chronic homelessness throughout the city and county. In September, homelessness was abruptly declared a public emergency, and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed spending $100 million to help combat the problem. In February, city and county officials approved the plan.
This may seem surprising, because last June the L.A. City Council approved ordinances to make it easier to tear down homeless encampments. Just two months later, the Department of Justice criticized any efforts to break up such sites—perhaps prompting Garcetti to tackle the issue in a new way. It was not the first time Garcetti has attempted to take on the city’s chronic homelessness, but, as The New York Times reported, since Garcetti took office the homeless population has grown 12 percent.
And yet, despite the City Council’s apparent change of heart, police across L.A. have continued to raze encampments. Now it appears that the city may finally have to face up to its past choices. On Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported:
However, just a day later the L.A. Times reported that “work crews and police were out again Tuesday making arrests and removing homeless encampments along a highly visible stretch of the 101 Freeway downtown. ... Officers arrested seven to nine homeless people on outstanding warrants or for possession of allegedly stolen shopping carts and other misdemeanors, authorities said.”
—Posted by Emma Niles
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