The Supreme Court of the nation did not want to hear a case that criminalizes the homeless for having no place to sleep.

On Monday, local Los Angeles officials showed mixed feelings when the Supreme Court refused to hear a case that tried to regulate the camps of people living on the street, a growing social crisis nationwide.

Without giving any explanation, the Supreme Court judges refused to hear an appeal of the Martin v. Boise, who considered those people sleeping in public spaces such as sidewalks or parks a crime.

With this denial, people can continue to sleep in the streets without problems.

The case was originally filed nine years ago when a group of homeless people sued the city of Boise, Idaho, for fineing those who slept in the open. The city eventually modified the ordinance by allowing them to sleep on the streets when the shelters were full.

But then the Ninth Circuit Court finally determined that local law was unconstitutional.

Recently in Whittier the authorities removed homeless people from a city park. (The opinion)

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said he supports “urgent actions” to create more opportunities for temporary shelter and permanent housing for Americans who are homeless; as well as an intervention in the most effective and mainly strategic mental health programs to prevent homelessness.

He added that "in the meantime, there must be rules that ensure that our sidewalks and other public spaces are safe and accessible to all."

What the official referred to is the fact that sometimes, children have to walk on the sidewalks full of homeless people, but they end up walking on the avenues because there is no space to go through.

In addition to businesses that try to get ahead and attract more customers, but find sidewalks full of tents where people who do not have a home live.

"We need clarity about what the Constitution allows as we develop and enforce those rules," said Feuer.

With this message, the prosecutor asked the Court to review the case to provide clarity for jurisdictions across the country facing similar situations.

"The Court decided not to provide that clarity," Feuer said. "Without it, the City is likely to face new legal challenges, while we seek to implement rules that effectively balance the rights and needs of homeless residents, with the legitimate rights and interests of other residents and businesses."

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said there is currently an urgent humanitarian crisis in the country with more and more people falling into poverty.

The official added that his support for the position of the city of Boise, Idaho, was not an attempt to criminalize the homeless but rather seek a clearer legal framework.

The supervisor said he refuses to see the current life of the homeless as the new normal.

"We should not resign ourselves to a reality in which places not suitable for human housing become the predetermined life situation for people living on the street," said the supervisor.

"We will continue to look for bold and compassionate decisions to help all our neighbors live a dignified and valuable life," said Thomas.

A report by the National Center for Laws on Homelessness and Poverty reveals that at the national level, homeless people are fined, arrested and jailed only for sleeping or sitting on sidewalks, cases that consider them as civil or criminal offenses.

Additionally, the report entitled “Housing not Handcuffs 2019” indicated that cities routinely displace homeless people from public spaces without offering permanent housing alternatives.

Looking for alternatives

It is estimated that Los Angeles County has a shortage of approximately 517,000 affordable housing units. Each night there are approximately 59,000 homeless, of which more than 44,000 have no shelter.

Supervisor Hilda Solís, agreed with the Supreme Court refusal saying that this decision sends a powerful message.

“We have to come together to focus on concrete solutions that reduce the number of people living homeless. This is a human crisis that requires the construction of more temporary housing, supportive housing and more affordable units, ”said the supervisor.

She explained that Los Angeles County has been working to partner with cities to implement solutions for the homeless and to build temporary, supportive and affordable housing throughout the county.

"Only through partnerships with our cities, service providers and community members can we end the lack of housing," said the supervisor. "Now is the time to act quickly to get our brothers and sisters out of poverty and take them to the home they need and deserve."

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said homelessness will not be resolved by moving people from one street to another.

"Our focus will continue to be life-saving services, keep our neighborhoods clean and healthy, open shelters to help people get in faster and build permanent units to keep them under a roof permanently," Garcetti said.

One of the solutions could fall into an indigence prevention action plan, developed by Los Angeles County, which identifies residents at greater risk of becoming homeless.

During the investigation of the plan of the people who were identified with a high risk of homelessness, almost half were left homeless. Additionally, it was found that people in this group were 27 times more likely to be homeless compared to the average person receiving services from Los Angeles County.

"The predictive model can help ensure that homelessness prevention services reach the right people, at the right time, before they are in a total crisis," said Janey Rountree, executive director of the California Policy Laboratory (UCLA). "We hope to see the impact by connecting people with the help they need."

It is estimated that the plan will be implemented in early 2020 and the funds — a total of $ 3 million — will be obtained through Measure H.

For the time being, city and county authorities will not be able to displace homeless people from sidewalks or public places if a shelter cannot be provided for them.


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