Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis released the following statement after the Board of Supervisors passed a motion 3-2, with Supervisor Solis voting against the motion, to have LA County file or join an amicus brief that would reverse the 9th Circuit Court’s decision in Martin v. City of Boise, which prevents local governments and law enforcement agencies from arresting their way out of the homelessness crisis:
“Experiencing homelessness is a crime against humanity, but it is not a crime. The 9th Circuit Court held that people experiencing homelessness cannot be criminalized for sitting, laying, or sleeping on public property when there is insufficient housing or shelters available – because to do so would violate the Eighth Amendment which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
LA County has a shortage of about 517,000 affordable housing units. According to the last Homeless Count, there are 59,000 people experiencing homelessness in LA County every night, and more than 44,000 of them are unsheltered. When compared to the total population and those who are living in poverty, people who are experiencing homelessness are much more likely to be adult, male, African-American, and have a disability.
People experiencing homelessness do not choose homelessness. They are unsheltered because they have no other choice.
Today’s action seeking the reversal of the Martin v. City of Boise decision goes against this County’s humane approach to combating homelessness, that everyone must be treated with dignity and respect. As the Los Angeles Times noted this morning, under a reversal of Martin, cities could simply demand that people experiencing homelessness move from one block onto another, out of one neighborhood into another, in an unending cycle of disrespect and harm. A reversal of Martin would also undermine the progress the County has made to help get cities to partner with us to build shelters and combat homelessness. Further, a reversal of the Martin decision would have wide-ranging impacts in cities and counties throughout the nation, not just here in LA County.
As the County continues to do what we can do prevent and combat homelessness, in partnership with other local governments, the state, and developers and homeless service providers, we must focus all of our energy on concrete solutions: building more shelters, building more supportive housing, and building more affordable housing.
We cannot arrest our way out of homelessness.”