LA County and City Reach Unprecedented Deal to Bring Thousands of Homeless People Indoors Within Months

Almost 7,000 homeless people living in encampments near freeways, as well as homeless seniors over 65 and others vulnerable to COVID-19, will be brought indoors over the span of 18 months under a joint legal agreement signed by the County and City of Los Angeles and approved on Thursday by Judge David O. Carter.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas speaks to a homeless man living under a freeway bridge during the 2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. Photo by Aurelia Ventura, Boad of Supervisors

Under the agreement, the City committed to provide 6,000 new beds within 10 months, plus an additional 700 beds over 18 months. The County, meanwhile, committed to investing $300 million over five years to fund essential services for the people occupying those beds.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Council President Nury Martinez were tapped by Judge Carter to help negotiate the joint agreement between the County and the City.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbating Los Angeles’ homeless crisis, it is imperative that we marshal our County and City resources to bring our most vulnerable neighbors indoors as expeditiously as possible,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “This is a new milestone in our partnership to ensure that everyone in Los Angeles has a life of dignity and worth.”

City Council President Nury Martinez speaking at the 2020 Empowerment Congress.

“This agreement will lead to major action, not rhetoric,” said City Council President Martinez. “The Court has challenged us to do better, to do more and to do it quickly, and we need to meet that challenge. We are now positioned to dive into difficult but honest conversations with our County partners about future financial resources and obligations. The Los Angeles City Council, and its leadership, will continue to do its duty to lead, collaborate and negotiate on behalf of the City with our County partners toward our common goal to house more homeless Angelenos faster.”

On May 15th, Judge Carter ordered both the County and City to “humanely” relocate anyone camped within 500 feet of an overpass, underpass, or ramp and into a shelter or “an alternative housing option.” Today’s agreement encompasses not only those people but also the most vulnerable segment of the homeless population – those who are 65 years or older, or who have chronic underlying health conditions that put them at high risk of being hospitalized or dying if they contract COVID-19.

The agreement builds on the existing partnership between the County and the City, which together housed a record number of 22,000 homeless people last year, based on the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count released last week.

The County and City have been housing more people every year since the passage of the County’s Measure H in 2017 and the City’s Proposition HHH in 2016, but they have also had to contend with the significant inflow of people becoming homeless for the first time due to economic pressures.

The agreement will also go hand-in-hand with the post-pandemic housing plan being developed by the County under motions by Supervisors Ridley-Thomas, Janice Hahn and Sheila Kuehl, as well as the Comprehensive Crisis Response to homelessness endorsed by Governor Gavin Newsom’s Council of Regional Homeless Advisors, co-chaired by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.