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Supreme Court ruling may push more homeless into L.A., Mayor Karen Bass says

 

A homeless man sleeps on a Metro bus bench at 8th and Alvarado streets in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. A community group found bus riders concerned about delays, dirty bus stops, lack of shade and unreliable service. The LA County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, voted to partner with Metro to address homeless at bus shelters, train depots and at the end of train lines. © Sarah Reingewirtz/Los Angeles Daily News/TNS


Many leaders in the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County are up in arms over the Supreme Court’s ruling in support of anti-camping laws, which they fear other municipalities will use to push homeless people into Los Angeles.

 

But other leaders in Long Beach and Orange County support the decision. They believe it will give cities a new tool to promote public safety, clear encampments and address homelessness.


The opinion in Grants Pass v. Johnson on Friday, June 28, upholds cities’ ability to issue tickets to people for sleeping in public, regardless of the availability of local shelter beds.

 

L.A. Mayor Karen Bass and L.A. County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath condemned the decision, saying it will result in the criminalization of people experiencing homelessness and shuffle people from community to community without addressing the overall crisis. Both the county and the City of L.A., they said, will not use the ruling to punish people for camping in public.

 

“If it’s OK for other cities to ticket and shoo people away, I will be very concerned that the number of people moving into L.A. from other cities will increase,” said Bass in a Friday morning press conference.

 

“I also do not believe that it is ultimately a solution to homelessness,” she said. “How are they supposed to pay for their ticket, and what happens when they don’t pay? Does it go into a warrant and give us an excuse to incarcerate somebody?”

Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson was happy with the ruling, saying that “for years cities have been constrained by legal ambiguities limiting our ability to implement common-sense measures to protect our residents’ well-being.”

 

Richardson said enforcing anti-camping laws alone will not end homelessness and that Long Beach remains committed to increasing permanent housing, shelter and homeless services.

 

The ruling comes the same day that the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority revealed the hopeful news that in 2023 a record number of people moved from the streets of Los Angeles into shelter, while the overall homeless population in the county stayed flat.

 

L.A. County officials say the Grants Pass ruling has the potential to erode that progress.

 

“This gut punch of a decision comes on the day we unveil our point-in-time count progress,” L.A. County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath said.


As chair of LAHSA and the Board of Supervisors, I want to be crystal clear: the criminalization of homelessness and poverty is dangerous,” she said. “It does not work and it will not stand.”

 

But the Orange County Board of Supervisors had a very different reading of the ruling.

 

“The Supreme Court’s decision today allows the County of Orange and our impacted cities to enhance efforts to move people from unsafe encampments to shelter, treatment, wraparound care, and ultimately permanent supportive housing,” said Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley.


 Story by Clara Harter, Los Angeles Daily News

 

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