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County Agrees to Triple the Beds for Mentally Ill and Addicted Homeless

By Jorge Casuso

September 29, 2023 -- Los Angeles County will have to commit up to $1.24 billion to provide 3,000 beds and services for homeless people with mental health and substance use disorders under a settlement approved in federal court Friday.

The settlement comes after a federal appeals court last month paved the way for a trial after rejecting the County's bid to compel a federal judge to approve a settlement that would have produced 1,000 beds ("Federal Court Decision Could Boost Mental Health Beds for Homeless," August 14, 2023).

The decision backed efforts in April by federal Judge David O. Carter to boost the number of mental health beds in board and care facilities stipulated in the agreement with the LA Alliance for Human Rights, a coalition of housed and unhoused residents of Downtown LA.

Carter also said he wanted the County to provide more homeless services and give the court greater “oversight and enforcement powers.”

In addition to the 3,000 beds, the County will provide 450 new subsidies for board-and-care beds "serving the most vulnerable, including the elderly and disabled," according to the Alliance.

The settlement also increases from 27.5 to 44 the number of specialized outreach teams "serving people who face significant barriers to housing due to physical, mental, and behavioral challenges."

And it provides "a comprehensive suite of supportive services" for eligible occupants of more than 13,000 permanent and interim housing beds the City of LA committed to build in a separate settlement with the Alliance.

The five County Supervisors praised the agreement, calling it a historic expansion of services that marks a milestone in the County's fight to address homelessness.

“We will continue to lead with urgency to meet the moment and deliver the results our communities need,” said Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath, who represents the Third District, which includes Santa Monica.

“I am glad that the County and City of LA, together, can return our focus to the work ahead, and move forward in our mutual commitment to meet this humanitarian crisis with the urgency it deserves and at the scale required.”

During the course of the three-and-a-half-year lawsuit, the County had already agreed to pay $293 million to provide 6,700 beds for people experiencing homelessness near freeways and unhoused seniors, according to the Alliance.

That brings the County’s total commitment to a record $1.53 billion and "dovetails with the County’s ongoing efforts to scale up and fast-track efforts to address homelessness in response to the Board of Supervisors declaring a state of emergency in January."

A federal monitor will assist the court in overseeing the settlement, which terminates on June 30, 2027, the Alliance said.

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