LA to Stop Arresting Homeless Sleepers

Los Angeles may finally have ended its war against the homeless. LA's police officers were routinely arresting the homeless for sleeping on sidewalks, despite the lack of sufficient shelters and the city's closure of parks at night, leaving the homeless with no choice but to forgo sleep. A federal court concluded that the practice violated the Constitution by punishing people for being homeless.

The city reached a settlement yesterday with the ACLU of Southern California, resolving a lawsuit filed on behalf of homeless people who were illegally arrested.

[T]he city will allow sleeping on sidewalks from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. People will not be able to bed down within 10 feet of the entrance of a building, parking lot or loading dock. The policy will remain in effect until Los Angeles builds 1,250 units of low-cost housing with services for homeless people, with half of the units in and around the downtown area.

The settlement won't solve the problem of homelessness in LA, and the city's belief that the units will be completed in three years, with half the cost to come from nonprofit organizations and developers, will likely prove to be unduly optimistic. It is at least a productive step, particularly if the police honor the settlement's promise to stop harassing homeless people who just want to get a few hours of sleep.

Similar unwarranted arrests of the homeless in New York City are discussed here and here.

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  • Display: Sort:
    1250 beds? (none / 0) (#1)
    by manys on Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 11:35:35 AM EST
    The policy will come back once they get 1250 beds? I heard a figure yesterday that LA has 90,000 homeless, so this story sounds more PR than anything.