Federal judge wants independent audit of LA’s homelessness programs as city struggles to curtail crisis

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Leaders in Los Angeles are demanding more transparency from homeless service providers as the city’s crisis reaches historic highs. 

A federal judge in California wants an independent audit of Los Angeles’ homelessness programs, accusing the city of failing to do enough to significantly curb the problem in recent years. City and county officials are also demanding that its lead homeless service provider release data about its efforts.

In a lawsuit filed by LA Alliance for Human Rights — a coalition of business owners and residents — U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter argued the city hasn’t honored its settlement agreement that promised it would build thousands of shelters and sweep out homeless encampments, the Los Angeles Times first reported. 

The coalition is seeking $6.4 million in compensation from the city after the group claims it failed to uphold the terms of the settlement agreement nearly two years ago. 


Homeless people stand with their belongings in front of an outpatient mental health clinic in Los Angeles, California, on Dec. 6, 2022. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and City Council President Paul Krekorian first floated the idea of an independent audit to Carter, the mayor’s office confirmed to Fox News Digital on Monday. Bass’s “Inside Safe” Program — which took more than 21,000 Angelenos off the streets — could also be subject to overview if the audit comes to fruition. 

According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), the city’s leading centralized hub for homeless services, more than 75,500 people were considered homeless in 2023, a 9% increase countywide. In the city, about 46,200 were considered homeless, a 10% increase from the previous year. 

Los Angeles City Councilmembers Monica Rodriguez and Bob Blumenfield have put forth a motion to develop an evaluation framework for LAHSA. The proposal would permit the city attorney to examine LAHSA’s contracts and expenditures as well as other data points.

County supervisors also ordered more transparency from LAHSA in a similar proposal two weeks ago. 


Homeless encampments

Homeless encampments in Portland and Los Angeles (Fox 12 Oregon, Fox 11 Los Angeles)

Rodriguez said during Friday’s council meeting that it’s “unfortunate” they have to demand transparency through legislative means.

She said: “Tragically, we continue to see a lack of information. … We continue to demand the same information. It’s very basic and simple information, but there’s a continued hiding of the ball of these circumstances.”

Meanwhile, City Controller Kenneth Mejia — who operates independently of the council — announced on X, formerly Twitter, on Friday he’d be launching his own audit of Bass’s Inside Safe initiative. 

“Today, at Judge Carter’s request, I spoke in court about our auditing powers & the City’s lack of transparency & accountability on homeless efforts despite billions of dollars spent,” Mejia said. “Based on today & repeated community calls, we are announcing a focused audit on Inside Safe.”

CEO of LAHSA, Va Lecia Adams Kellum, told Fox News Digital in a statement Monday that she welcomed the city’s audit of the organization’s services.


LA mayor speaks at press conference

L.A. Mayor Karen Bass first floated the idea of an independent audit to Judge Carter (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“When I started a year ago, I made accountability and transparency a key pillar of my effort to create a better LAHSA,” Kellum said. “LAHSA strives to deliver accurate information to inform and empower policymakers in their important work to bring more people home. I welcome the passage of the motion from Councilmembers Blumenfield and Rodriguez, and look forward to working with the City on developing a framework that provides greater insight into program performance.”

LAHSA’s 2022-2023 budget totaled around $845.4 million, with $726.2 million going to service providers. 

About $662 million was earmarked for housing, according to LAHSA’s financial documents. Just over $40 million went to LAHSA administration.

Despite more taxpayer dollars at work, the homeless population continues to rise in the Golden State. It’s up 6% compared to last year and has the highest number of homeless people living outdoors in the country. About 181,000 people were considered homeless in the state’s 2023 count, and most are suffering from drug addiction or mental illnesses. 

On Friday, the city doubled down on its efforts to make data on homelessness more transparent — an issue outside advocates have been sounding the alarm on for years.

Last month, California Democratic senators Alex Padilla and Laphonza Butler announced just over $600 million in federal dollars to curb the spiraling homelessness crisis in the state, with $65.71 million set aside for LAHSA. The state has spent nearly $20 billion on homelessness in the last five years, while the city and county of Los Angeles has reportedly spent at least $7.5 billion in that same time period. 

Calls placed to LA Alliance for Human Rights were not returned at press time. 

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