L.A. is “Meanest City” for Homeless: Study

L.A. is no place to be homeless

A national homeless advocacy group says that thousands of LA's poor, homeless and disabled residents are trapped in  the criminal justice system.

The survey of 273 cities cites LA's 2-year-old police crackdown on Skid Row, known as the downtown Safe City Initiative, as part of the reason for the hobophobia. 

The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and the National Coalition for the Homeless released the report.

The so-called Safe City Initiative targets the homeless by making it illegal to sleep, eat or sit in public spaces in the 50-square block area of downtown. The study stated that the city criminalizes behavior associated with the homeless.

The report said the crackdown resulted in 1,000 citations a month for crimes such as jaywalking.

"Even though most cities do not provide enough affordable housing, and food to meet the need, many cities use the criminal justice system to punish people living on the street for doing things that they need to do to survive," the report said.

The study was released a day after the ACLU of Southern California filed a federal lawsuit against Santa Monica, alleging that the city has engaged in a pattern of harassing chronically homeless people by arresting or rousting them, even though the city lacks sufficient shelter space. The ACLU filed similar suits in recent months against Santa Barbara and Laguna Beach, which agreed to a settlement last month.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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