Letters to the Editor: Removing homeless people because they offend the housed isn't a solution

·3 min read
VENICE BEACH, CALIF. - JUNE 23, 2021 - Dawan Moses, director of outreach teams at St. Joseph Center, checks on a woman lying in the sand in late June. (Carla Hall / Los Angeles Times)
An outreach worker checks on an unhoused woman lying on Venice Beach on June 23, 2021. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Soledad Ursúa banally identifies substance abuse and mental illness as homelessness' root causes. This is false. The unhoused people she observes in Venice are the consequence of decades of underinvestment in an adequate social safety net, affordable housing and quality healthcare.

Sadly, it is not enough for Ursúa merely to remove people who viscerally offend her. They must be "cured" of their maladies with a grab bag of measures — conservatorships, psychiatric hospital beds, residential care —calibrated to enable the comfortably housed to say "I told you so" when an unhoused person refuses their help.

Sermonic moralizing does not change a basic arithmetic problem: Even if we magically convert every unhoused miscreant into a morally upright paragon of gentrified virtue, there would still be a shortage of dignified housing for every Southern Californian.

Charles Kohorst, Glendora

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To the editor: In Venice homelessness is seen in all its complexity.

Some are homeless because housing is too costly. Once an apartment is lost, payment for the first and last months' rent plus the security deposit is too steep a price for people who were just hanging on in the first place. As the cost of housing goes up, people fall farther behind every day, every month, every year.

The most visible homeless people are the ones muttering and sometimes shouting down the street. Some of these people had addictions or mental illnesses before they became homeless. Others were driven to addiction and insanity by the harsh life of homelessness.

Cities cannot solve this problem. It comes from the unregulated real estate market and is exacerbated by investment trusts. The only way to curb the real estate monster, which can devour both you and me and make us homeless, is to change federal law.

Until homelessness is tackled at the federal level, we will see only patchwork solutions that turn out to be no real solutions for the unhoused and the rest of us who fear homelessness.

Joan DaVanzo, Long Beach

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To the editor: Kudos to Ursúa for accurately and compassionately describing the way I and the majority of my Venice neighbors feel about the homelessness in our community. The advocates and city officials who claim that living in filth and squalor is a personal right are the real culprits responsible for this intolerable situation.

Unhoused people need help, not tent encampments and portable bathrooms. That's what we voted to fund, and that is what needs to be done.

Carl Godlewski, Venice

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To the editor: Ursúa expresses hope that electing new L.A. City Council members and a new mayor might relieve the homelessness problem.

It won't. The best answer lies in Sacramento, as only the state has the power and the purse to adequately address the problems underlying homelessness. While the causes are multi-factorial, mental illness and drug addiction are major drivers.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has a massive budget surplus. He should use that to build psychiatric facilities that could accommodate involuntary holds and undertake outreach programs.

Temporary shelters will not address these issues. They have rules, and those who do not follow the rules are asked to leave.

The need for psychiatric facilities is the elephant in the room.

Bruce N. Miller, Playa del Rey

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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