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Judge orders Los Angeles to relocate thousands of homeless people

A federal judge has ordered the city and county to move 6,000 to 7,000 people camping near freeway ramps, overpasses and bridges amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

LOS ANGELES — A federal judge on Friday ordered Los Angeles city and county to move thousands of homeless people who are living near freeways, saying their health is at risk from pollution and the coronavirus.

Judge David O. Carter issued a preliminary injunction requiring relocation of an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 people camping near freeway ramps and under overpasses and bridges. The order would take effect on May 22.

“Without adequate access to shelter, hygiene products, and sanitation facilities, individuals experiencing homelessness face a greater risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, and an outbreak in the homeless community would threaten the general public as well," Carter said in the ruling.

He also said those living near freeways are exposed to pollution, including lead, that can shorten their life expectancy by decades. Carter also said the location also means the homeless face a greater danger of being struck by a car or injured during an accident or earthquake.

The injunction was issue in a lawsuit filed by the LA Alliance for Human Rights that accused officials in greater Los Angeles of failing to comprehensively address the homelessness crisis.

“The city will continue to collaborate with the other parties and the court to do all we can to provide needed shelter and services to our homeless population, and ensure our public spaces are safe and accessible for everyone,” Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a statement.

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Credit: AP
Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics wear gloves and face masks as they assist an unidentified homeless woman in distress in Los Angeles, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. The homeless are particularly vulnerable to contracting and spreading the coronavirus. Officials have vowed repeatedly to get them indoors, but testing shortages and bureaucratic wrangling are making it difficult. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

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