The Clearing: An Update on Homelessness on LA’s Streets

PERSPECTIVE--On April 14, 2006, the decision in the case, Jones v. City of Los Angeles, marked the first time in a decade that a court has struck down an ordinance that criminalizes the lack of shelter. Here are the facts and updates on the Jones v. Los Angeles lawsuit.

A settlement of the Jones v. Los Angeles lawsuit, after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the enforcement of LA’s law against sleeping on the streets was unconstitutional. 

Further ruling dictates that the Ninth Circuit ruled that “the Eighth Amendment prohibits the City from punishing involuntary sitting, lying, or sleeping on public sidewalks that is an unavoidable consequence of being human and homeless without shelter in the City of Los Angeles.” .

So where are we today? Well, On Friday June 22, and the day prior to the Budget Advocates Budget Day event held at Los Angeles City Hall, city officials reported that more than 1,500 units for the chronically homeless had been built, 655 downtown. Los Angeles.  Mayor Eric Garcetti stated that more housing is on the way thanks to the voter’s approval of Measure HHH in 2016, borrowing $1.2 billion to build thousands more units of housing for the homeless over the next 10 years. There are more than 23,000 unsheltered homeless people living in LA, by the latest official count.

Voters put theirtrust in us by passing Measure H and Proposition HHH, to deliver the housing and services that people on the streets desperately need.” — Mayor Eric Garcetti 

What voters did not bank on was ten years of bad decision making and lack of oversight from city and county officials as well as the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), as Los Angeles's Skid Row has the highest concentration of homeless individuals in the United States. News Flash, 1,500 housing units is insufficient in addressing this apocalyptic number of homeless throughout the City and County of Los Angeles.

The number of those living in the streets and shelters throughout the city and county of Los Angeles has up-surged 75% totaling roughly 55,000 in the last six years and will continue to grow at rapid speed as housing cost increases and gentrification of neighborhoods continue.

This is inhumane, but I guess that having a lavish and expensive downtown area takes precedence over helping families in tent cities that stretch from the Antelope Valley to the Santa Monica coast.

(Diedra M. Greenaway, MS/MBA, is a Los Angeles City Budget Advocate and BA Budget Chair for the Department of Economic and Workforce Development. Diedra is a CityWatch contributor.)

-cw