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ACLU Reaches Historic Pact on Homelessness with City of Laguna Beach

Orange County — Under a groundbreaking settlement, the City of Laguna Beach has agreed to provide improvements to its homeless programs and facilities, ensuring that people with disabilities will have access in accord with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act.

The settlement, filed today in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, California, resolves a 2015 class action lawsuit by Paul Hastings LLP and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and on behalf of people with disabilities who are homeless in Laguna Beach.

“The agreement makes it mandatory for people who are homeless to be informed of their rights,” said Ian Kysel, an ACLU SoCal staff attorney. “It ensures that people can request accommodations to meet their needs, and that decisions about those requests are rendered in a timely fashion and in writing.”

Under the settlement, if shelter staff denies a request for an accommodation, the decision can be appealed to a city employee independent of the shelter who is a neutral expert on the ADA and RA. The agreement also calls for the development of innovative services, such as a pilot program providing separate sleeping spaces for persons who, because of a disabling condition, find it difficult to cope with crowded, congregate living. And it provides for accommodations such as wheelchair lifts in the city’s shuttle van and cots instead of floor mats for people who need them.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement that will improve the lives of people using Laguna Beach’s homeless services,” said David Hernand, partner at Paul Hastings. "However, the end-game is really about addressing this crisis on a regional, Orange County-wide level, and with solutions that combine affordable housing and wrap-around services. We hope that Orange County supervisors do their part by committing much-needed resources to a ‘housing first’ model.”

Read the settlement here: https://www.aclusocal.org/sites/default/files/aclu_socal_glover_20180606_settlement.pdf

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