Los Angeles agrees to a sweeping ban on homeless camps near schools

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to ban homeless camps within 150 yards of schools and daycare centers at a rally that was disrupted by protesters who said homelessness was criminalized.

The council voted 11-3 to greatly broaden an existing sitting, sleeping or camping ban, which currently only applies to council-specified nurseries and schools. The vote, which applies to both public and private schools, came after an earlier vote was not passed unanimously last month.

The meeting was interrupted about an hour before the vote, after dozens of people became unruly and at one point “shut it down!” chanted.

A second and final vote is due next week.

About 750 public schools are located within the city limits, Los Angeles Unified School District officials told the Los Angeles Times, which said nearly 1,000 commercial daycare centers are registered with the city. The next public school year begins on August 15.

LA is one of several cities struggling with a wave of homelessness that has spread large encampments along sidewalks and sparked public outcry.

Proponents of the general ban said homeless camps pose a threat to the health and safety of schoolchildren, especially because of the disruptive presence of people with drug addiction or mental illness.

The camps “are unsafe and traumatic for students, families and staff when they enter school campuses,” Martha Alvarez, who is responsible for government relations for the school district, told the municipality.

Opponents, including homeless advocates, said the measure would further criminalize homelessness.

The ban comes as several hotels will end their involvement in the government’s Roomkey project, which paid them to provide hundreds of rooms to unsheltered people.

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