LA officials can't agree on how to shelter homeless people living near freeways

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This homeless camp is just outside a freeway overpass in Santa Monica. A federal judge’s order (effective May 22) says homeless encampments must be moved if they are near freeway overpasses. Photo by Amy Ta.

With tens of thousands of homeless people still living on the streets during the pandemic, the city and county of LA are under increasing pressure to house them to prevent further spread of the virus. 

On Wednesday, the two sides were supposed to present a plan to shelter some 7000 homeless people living near overpasses and freeways. Last week, a federal judge ordered them to find a way to do that.

But Wednesday’s hearing was canceled because the city and county couldn’t agree on a plan. The sticking point? Who’s going to pay to shelter the homeless amid massive budget shortfalls related to the pandemic? 

But they’re running out of time. The judge’s order is supposed to go into effect on Friday. 

“The judge has made it sound like you can sort of snap your fingers and do it, but there are a lot of complications,” says LA Times reporter Doug Smith.