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Coronavirus: Hearing Tuesday To Address Safe Camping For Skid Row's Homeless

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Another hearing is scheduled to take place Tuesday in federal court to address a lawsuit regarding conditions for the homeless amid the coronavirus pandemic in downtown Los Angeles' Skid Row and the surrounding area.

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Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics look at a woman helping a homeless man who had a seizure at Skid Row on April 12, 2020 in downtown Los Angeles. (APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

On Friday, as part of the lawsuit, L.A. city and county officials agreed to install dozens of portable toilets and handwashing stations on Skid Row and promised to service and maintain them.

That agreement came days after U.S. District Judge David Carter, who is overseeing the lawsuit, took a walking tour of the area and observed some outdoor sinks in the blighted area were lacking soap and water.

The federal lawsuit was brought last month by the L.A. Alliance, a coalition of Skid Row-area business owners, formerly homeless and disabled city dwellers, against the city and county for allegedly not doing enough to find solutions to the problem of thousands of people living in tents, cars and on the streets throughout the downtown area, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

RELATED: Skid Row Angel Gives Food, Hand Sanitizer To Homeless

On Monday, L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer reported that there were now 25 cases of coronavirus among the homeless population. Last week, she confirmed that an employee at a local shelter had died of the disease.

With the fear of a COVID-19 outbreak among the homeless population, over the past month, L.A. has turned 21 recreation centers into emergency shelters across the city. The city and county have deployed hand-washing stations and portable toilets at several encampments and brought about 760 hotels and motel rooms and 500 trailers online to deal with the problem.

In 2019, the number of homeless people in L.A. County was just under 59,000, a 12 percent increase from the prior year. There were 36,300 homeless people in the city of L.A. in 2019, a staggering 16 percent increase from the year before. An estimated 5,000 homeless people live in Skid Row.

Tuesday's hearing is expected to be on the scarcity of safe parking for the homeless living downtown in campers.

Judge Carter has asked attorneys for the city and county to discuss designated areas for recreational vehicle parking in the 50-block area and present possible options at a hearing Tuesday.

Although there is no restriction on living in a vehicle within the city of L.A., there is a limitation on overnight parking on certain streets between 2 and 5 a.m. and a prohibition on campers on some streets, the OCCW said.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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