House the homeless first, then treat them

To the editor: Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich assumes that mental illness and substance abuse are the primary causes of homelessness. He confuses correlation with causation. ("How L.A. County can reduce homelessness," Readers React, May 15)

Antonovich avoids addressing the solution of providing housing first, a growing model in the U.S. and around the world to end chronic homelessness. Permanent supportive housing at the front end of assistance is proving to be among the most effective and financially responsible ways to address this crisis.


While it may sound simplistic, people are homeless because they don't have housing. "Housing first" offers stability and the foundation for social services to address our neighbors' complex and varied needs, including mental illness and substance-abuse treatment.

The kind of logic used by Antonovich keeps chronic homelessness in its current pattern. Our homeless sisters and brothers deserve better. They deserve housing.

The Rev. Timothy Murphy, Los Angeles

The writer is executive director of Progressive Christians Uniting.


To the editor: Antonovich's advocacy for treating mental illness to address homelessness is a step in the right direction. I can tell you from personal experience how hard it is to get information about my son when he is having a mental health crisis.

The hospitals won't even say if he has been hospitalized. My son is expected to make decisions regarding his health when he is in a crisis. How can someone who is not able to think clearly make good choices?

It would help families if they could intercede when a loved one needs their help. My husband and I don't want to run our son's life, but we want to be able to help him during a crisis.

The strange thing about hospitals not giving us information about our son when he is actually receiving care is that they have no problem calling us about the bill.

Linda Shabsin, Diamond Bar

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook