Letters to the Editor: Unless Judge Carter can end income inequality, he can't fix homelessness

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LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 03: U.S. District Court judge David O. Carter tours skid row with LAPD officer Deon Joseph on Friday, April 3, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA. Carter is the judge at the center of the Orange County riverbed homeless case. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter tours skid row with a Los Angeles police officer on April 3, 2020. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: No question that David O. Carter is a well-intentioned, frustrated federal judge with a strong judicial cudgel at his disposal. His order for Los Angeles to shelter every person living on skid row within three to six months and set aside $1 billion for the effort will bring some relief to some people. ("A judge is forcing L.A. to do things his way on homelessness. Is he helping or hurting?" editorial, Feb. 16)

Still, the root cause of homelessness is well outside the powers of the city or the county to address, let alone solve. The root cause is income disparity, ever greater during the pandemic. More money goes to the top, and less and less trickles down to the bottom, where it is most needed.

Thank you, Judge Carter, for shining a bright light on the issue, but it's premature to take even a tiny little victory lap.

Julie Downey, Studio City


To the editor: During my decade in public safety, I learned something interesting that is seldom mentioned and could be factored into finding solutions for homelessness.

A portion of homeless people are homeless part time. Where do they go? Home — where they are periodically accepted and rejected due to cycles of addiction and unemployment that frustrate their loved ones.

In addressing the problem, we need to know how many families there are that could benefit from support if they take in a homeless relative. Some may be unable or unwilling, but a portion may be an untapped resource.

Family members are the most likely to be invested in breaking negative cycles, and supporting them could be a less costly form of housing unsheltered people.

Roni Roseberg, San Bernardino


To the editor: What are the city's and county's rights if a homeless person refuses to accept shelter or other help? Would the homeless person be allowed to go to another encampment?

In a TV interview a few weeks ago, an Echo Park homeless man said he did not want to leave the encampment that was being swept because when he lives on the street, he can do what he wants.

I have voted in favor of all funding measures to alleviate homelessness and donated to various charities that support such efforts. At what point will homeless people no longer be allowed to choose to do whatever they want at my and other taxpayers' expense?

Carla St. Romain, Pasadena


To the editor: Why can't L.A. successfully tackle its homelessness problem?

We're not West Podunk on the Swamp; we're Los Angeles, a huge, wealthy city full of clever and energetic people. We may not be able to house all of skid row's unsheltered people by the fall, but we should be well on our way.

Hooray for Judge Carter.

Mary Rouse, Los Angeles


To the editor: The good judge's order to house the unsheltered residents of skid row seems commendable. But where, pray tell, does he get the authority over the city's and county's executive and legislative branches?

Kevin McGill, Chula Vista

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.