Los Angeles County announced on Wednesday that they would be appealing a District Court ruling issued Tuesday that ordered the city and country of Los Angeles to offer housing or shelter to the entire homeless population in the Skid Row neighborhood by October.
In addition to offering housing to every homeless person in the district by October 18th, U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter also laid out extensive oversight in his injunction, with the $1 billion in homeless funding proposed by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti in his State of the City Address on Monday to be reported to the court on how exactly it is being spent within a week after it is decided on. An audit over what public homeless funds have been spent on in past years was also ordered in the injunction. Judge Carter said that the ruling would legally have Los Angeles house the homeless who live in one of the worst-off areas for them within the city.
“Virtually every citizen of Los Angeles has borne the impacts of the city and county’s continued failure to meaningfully confront the crisis of homelessness,” said Judge Carter in his junction ruling on Tuesday. “The time has come to redress these wrongs and finish another measure of our nation’s unfinished work.”
However, less than 24 hours after the ruling was released on Wednesday, Los Angeles County issued the appeal against the District Court injunction, calling for it to be formally suspended. LA County argues that decisions over how to spend taxpayer money and how to deliver taxpayer-funded services to homeless people is not a judicial function, but rather one that should be decided on by the county or city.
“Deciding how to spend taxpayers’ money and deliver services to people experiencing homelessness is a legislative, not a judicial, function,” said Skip Miller, an attorney for the county, in a statement on Wednesday.
After the Injunction was announced on Tuesday, Miller also noted that taxpayer homeless funds had shown positive results in both LA County, as well as Skid Row.
“The county has spent millions on proven strategies that have produced measurable results throughout the region, not just on Skid Row,” explained Miller.
While the appeal was expected from the county, homeless experts said on Thursday that they don’t know what to expect next.
“It’s really a question of if the court can say how to spend money,” explained Sandy Whelton, a lawyer who offers pro bono work to many homeless clients, to the Globe on Thursday. “The choice of deciding to house people isn’t up for debate here. You can’t legislate or court order morality. In this appeal it all comes down to if a judge is ordering how taxpayer dollars are being spent. It’s down to checks and balances. And we don’t know how the appeals court judge will rule.”
The appeal is expected to be heard by an appeals court judge soon.