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A federal appeals court overturned a lower court's order that required the city and county of Los Angeles to find housing for 4,600 Skid Row residents by October.
The three-member appellate panel from the 9th Circuit unanimously found that U.S. District Court Judge David Carter lacked evidence for his theory that racism was the root cause of the area’s homelessness problem, which was the basis for his injunction. The higher court further noted the plaintiffs had not even made the racism argument.
The lawsuit was filed by the LA Alliance for Human Rights, which claimed the city and county created an untenable homeless situation. Carter has taken an active role in the issue, visiting Skid Row residents and even holding court hearings in adjacent parking lots.
In 2018, Carter settled a massive homelessness lawsuit between the County of Orange, several cities, and homeless rights advocates. The result cleared a nine-mile riverbed encampment and the Santa Ana Civic Center of more than 1,000 homeless.
FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2021, file photo, Jeff Page, right, also known as General Jeff, a homelessness activist and leader in the Downtown Los Angeles Skid Row Neighborhood Council, walks with U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter, middle, and Michele Martinez, special master on the issues of homelessness, after a court hearing at Downtown Women's Center in Los Angeles. A judge overseeing a sweeping lawsuit about homelessness in Los Angeles has ordered the city and county Tuesday, April 20, 2021, to find shelter for all unhoused residents of Skid Row within 180 days. Judge David O. Carter also ordered an audit of all funding related to the crisis of people living on the streets. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File) Damian Dovarganes/AP
Orange County supervisors, law enforcement, and city mayors worked together to open homeless shelters and relocate the residents in what was the largest homeless resettlement in the United States. But Carter has found no such collaboration in Los Angeles, where county supervisors and Mayor Eric Garcetti have fought the litigation.
In his April 20 order, Carter blasted Los Angeles politicians as corrupt and wasteful of taxpayer dollars earmarked for fighting homelessness. Garcetti responded by holding a news conference, telling Carter to “stay out of our way. Roadblocks masquerading as progress are the last things we need.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told the Washington Examiner he wants to be part of the litigation because he has a homelessness program with teams of law enforcement and social workers that is effective. However, his help has been unwelcome, as Garcetti and county officials have seen it as an intrusion into areas assigned to the Los Angeles Police Department.
A homeless man sits at his street side tent along the Interstate 110 freeway along downtown Los Angeles' skyline on Thursday, May 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
“They blew $6.5 billion in 10 years. It all got eaten up by [non-profit] homeless providers, and the problem grew by 100%,” Villanueva said. “We have over 80,000 homeless in LA County. Ten years ago, it was 39,000.”
Despite the latest ruling, the case will return to Carter to address concerns and likely go forward when additional evidence is presented. The high court found the plaintiff’s allegations of sidewalks being blocked in violation of the American Disabilities Act “survives our jurisdictional analysis [but] suffers from other flaws.”
Plaintiffs failed to show how people were denied use of the sidewalks and “instead they seek the wholesale clearing of 50-plus blocks,” the panel's opinion said.
This is the second homeless issue decided by the 9th Circuit in three weeks. On Sept. 2, the court said Los Angeles’s policy of destroying bulky items such as mattresses left behind on public property by the homeless is unconstitutional because it is an unreasonable government seizure.
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Original Author: Tori Richards
Original Location: Judge's ruling to clean up Skid Row overturned by 9th Circuit