On January 25, 2016, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles sent a scathingly forthright letter to the LA City Council arguing that the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, on whose commission Kerry Morrison serves, falsely stated in its 2015 Continuum of Care application for more than $110 million in federal funding for homeless programs that the City of LA was going to stop criminalizing homelessness by amending its abhorrent, unconstitutional LAMC 56.11 to eliminate criminal penalties for the storage of personal property on sidewalks. This copy was distributed by HPOA Executive Director Kerry Morrison to the Central Hollywood Coalition Board of Directors at their February 9, 2016 meeting. It has annotations inscribed by an unknown hand (probably Kerry Morrison’s). They are fascinating, and we discuss them below.
If you’ve been following the amendments to the ordinance as originally adopted (most importantly here and also here) LAFLA’s allegations will come as no surprise to you. The City of Los Angeles, it seems, is completely unwilling to stop arresting homeless people, even if it puts hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funding at risk.
Now, we’re not as sure as LAFLA is that LAHSA actually lied. Here’s what HUD asked (see p.10 of the application for context):
Select the specific strategies implemented by the CoC to ensure that homelessness is not criminalized in the CoC’s geographic area. Select all that apply. For “Other,” you must provide a description…
Here’s how LAHSA responded:
on Nov 17, 2015, the LA City Council amended the ordinance [LAMC 56.11] to remove sanctions and criminal penalties, reducing sanctions further than the initial municipal code.
And here’s what LAFLA said with respect to this:
…the implication was that any amendment would remove all criminal penalties and sanctions. The amendments as proposed by the City Attorney do [no] such thing.
So LAFLA reads an implicit “all” before the word “sanctions,” which would make LAHSA’s statement false on its face. However, it’s also possible to read an implicit “some” before the word “sanctions,” which would make the statement true, but deeply deceptive since “all” is a more natural assumption regarding the tacit quantifier. Either way LAHSA not only looks bad, but is putting the money, not to mention their credibility, at risk. After all, if the feds think you’ve lied to them, they are exceedingly unlikely to be convinced by your slippery, clever, alternate reading of what you said.
Also, isn’t it interesting that putative changes in LAMC 56.11 were the only example LAHSA gave of the City’s steps towards decriminalizing homelessness. They didn’t touch the also abhorrent LAMC 41.18(d), which forbids sitting on the sidewalk in the absence of a parade. They didn’t even mention it, which is also deceptive. This is the BIDs’ favorite anti-homeless law, and it’s enforced in an openly selective manner against homeless people. At some point HUD is going to notice this, and, as we have predicted before and predict again now, this will be the rock that the BIDs’ ship founders on. The City won’t be able to do without the money, the BIDs won’t be able to do without the law, but the City will be able to do without the BIDs in their present form.
Read on for a discussion of the anonymous marginalia found on our copy of this letter.
Continue reading Fascinating Marginalia on CHC Copy of LAFLA Letter to Los Angeles City Council Regarding LAHSA Misrepresentations in 2015 Application for Federal Homeless Money Reveal Unspoken BID Assumptions