Readers React

We can't fight homelessness without providing homes

To the editor: Without an adequate supply of affordable housing, we will not end homelessness in our city. ("L.A. spends $100 million a year on homelessness, city report finds," April 16)

The report released last week from the city of Los Angeles confirmed what the skid row community has known for a long time: funding for homelessness is simply not going to the right place.

A recent needs assessment of women on skid row found that affordable housing was overwhelmingly the greatest need.

Outreach, case management and a coordinated effort — all recommendations put forth by the report — are steps in the right direction. However, the ultimate solution is affordable housing.

Sylvia Rosenberger, Los Angeles

The writer is chief executive of the Downtown Women's Center.


To the editor: Your article failed to mention the efforts undertaken by Los Angeles County to serve those with mental illness and substance-abuse issues (the primary causes of homelessness). Simply housing the homeless does not end their homelessness.

Working with community groups, partner agencies and our cities, we have established homeless, mental health and public safety programs, including the Psychiatric Emergency Team, or PET.

PETs consist of mental health professionals and law enforcement personnel who assess homeless individuals and offer medical treatment for those who will accept. However, more often than not, mentally ill individuals are unwilling to accept treatment.

To effectively address homelessness, we need reforms that streamline court processes; establish realistic standards, allowing judges to refer the severely ill to treatment; and empower families with greater access to participate in the treatment process.

To further support these efforts, the county is also fully implementing Laura's Law, a compassionate, cost-effective program that provides court-ordered, intensive care to the mentally ill homeless, many of whom are incapable of consenting to treatment.

Michael D. Antonovich, Los Angeles

The writer is an L.A. County supervisor.

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