The city and county of Los Angeles have reached a deal to bring almost 7,000 homeless people indoors, officials said Thursday.
The city will provide 6,000 new beds within 10 months and 700 more beds over 18 months, Los Angeles County district Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas's office announced in a press release.
The agreement comes after US District Judge David Carter in May ordered the city and county to "humanely" relocate into a shelter homeless people living near freeway overpasses, underpasses and ramps, or provide "an alternative housing option."
The county will invest $300 million over five years to fund essential services for people occupying the beds, the release said.
"This agreement will lead to major action, not rhetoric," City Council President Nury Martinez said.
Los Angeles has grappled with its burgeoning homeless population for years. The number of homeless in the city rose 14.2% to 41,290 from a year earlier, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said last week. The county had a 12.7% increase, to 66,433 people.
"Homelessness is the humanitarian crisis of our time," Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.
"Through this agreement, we will bring thousands more Angelenos indoors, deliver the services they need right now and further limit the spread of COVID-19," Garcetti said.
Thousands live near freeways
About 6,000-7,000 homeless live near freeway overpasses, underpasses, and ramps in the county, according to the authority.
Carter's order in May noted that these people are exposed to elevated levels of pollutants and contaminants that can shorten a "homeless person's life expectancy by decades." The locations also increase the risk of being struck by a vehicle or being injured during an earthquake.
The agreement will include beds for people over 65 and "others vulnerable" to Covid-19, the release said.
"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," 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."
Carter approved the agreement, according to the release.