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Supervisor Kathryn Barger is Leading on the Homelessness Crisis

Updated: Sep 26, 2019

On Tuesday, September 17th, Supervisor Kathryn Barger introduced a motion, coauthored by Supervisor Janice Hahn and supported by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, directing the Los Angeles County attorneys to file an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse Martin vs. City of Boise, a recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that requires local governments to provide beds for all the homeless before the county can enforce of anti-camping ordinances. Martin means that before anti-camping provisions designed to protect the public can be enforced, the County must have in place housing for 60,000 homeless individuals. Martin has therefore handcuffed local governments, allowing encampments to proliferate and become breeding grounds for disease, drug abuse, crime and death—a humanitarian crisis on our streets.

In describing the urgent need to overturn Martin, Supervisor Barger stated, "It will take [the County] decades to build enough housing to meet the current needs of individuals experiencing homelessness; until that day comes – we cannot be paralyzed to help our homeless neighbors. We need the flexibility to act with urgency".

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas emphasized, "I’m simply fed up. The status quo is untenable. We need to call this what it is – a state of emergency – and refuse to resign ourselves to a reality where people are allowed to live in places not fit for human habitation. I refuse to accept this as our new normal.”

This bi-partisan action is intended to be first in a number of bold steps Supervisor Barger will lead in collaboration with her colleagues on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Los Angeles County is now a major voice requesting the Supreme Court to reverse Martin and it will be leading with other initiatives to reverse the Homelessness crisis in our cities and county.

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