Plan to provide more beds to homeless moves forward

Agree to funding plan

OW Staff Writer | 10/16/2020, midnight

Los Angeles County officials have announced an end to a deadlock that held up plans to provide 6,700 beds and services for indigent people living under or near the region’s freeways while under the threat of the coronavirus.

An emergency meeting took place last week to attempt to unravel snarls that threatened a funding agreement that had been stymied for four months by what a Los Angeles federal judge called in-fighting and time-wasting.

The attempt to restore momentum took on increased urgency, with figures released by the county coroner that deaths on the streets are up 33 percent since last year.

According to a binding term sheet released as part of a court filing Tuesday, the city is responsible for creating 5,300 new beds by April and 700 additional new beds by December 2021 for a total of 6,000 new beds. The city also must provide an additional 700 beds by April that “may be beds previously captured in an agreement or plan between the city and county,’’ according to the county’s notice.

To assist in funding services for the 6,000 new beds, the county will pay the city up to $60 million per year for five years. The county will pay to the city a one-time bonus of $8 million if the 5,300 new bed target is reached within 10 months.

The first payment of $17.6 million to the city was made on Sept. 1 in compliance with the term sheet.

In ordering last week’s mediation conference, U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr. wrote that, with 80 days left before Christmas, “both governments need to act now. History should not be doomed to repeat itself here, and the court is committed to ensuring that the city and county work together’’ to finalize terms to begin bringing people off the streets.

The situation stems from a lawsuit brought by the L.A. Alliance for Human Rights, a coalition of Skid Row-area business owners, formerly homeless and disabled city dwellers, who accuse the city and county of dragging their feet in not doing enough to get the homeless off city streets and into housing—especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.