To the editor: Facing the growing problem of homelessness in 1987, then-Mayor Tom Bradley proposed creating an "urban campground" that would be a joint effort between the city of Los Angeles and the Salvation Army. Homeless people would be allowed to stay on a fenced-off vacant lot near the Los Angeles River and have access to portable toilets and water.
After 103 days of operation, the city was forced to shut down the campground because of unsanitary conditions. After spending almost $400,000 on the camp, officials realized they should not be in the shelter business.
Thirty-one years later, Mayor Eric Garcetti wants to get Los Angeles back into the shelter business. He should be careful not to repeat past mistakes with his "Garcettiville" trailers. ("Temporary trailers for homeless people planned on downtown city lot," Jan. 16)
The mayor has the money and the land to open shelters, but does he have the manpower and resources to run them? I commend Garcetti and the City Council for trying to help the homeless, but I am very skeptical of their efforts, considering many residents cannot even get their trash picked up on schedule.
Ken Walsh, Los Angeles
To the editor: Do I have this correct? L.A. has about 25,000 unsheltered homeless people on any given night, and there is a proposal to temporarily house 67 of them in trailers?
I understand that we have to start somewhere, but surely we can do better than that.
While it rarely drops below freezing in Los Angeles, it does get cold and sometimes very wet. If we are going to provide shelter for homeless people, let's do something that helps much more than a few dozen.
Let's get past the many hurdles that people create because they do not want to deal with this ugly side of life. Let's get down to the business of helping people who can't help themselves. If you are lucky enough to have a roof over your head, be grateful and start thinking about ways to help folks who are not so fortunate.
And please, let's help more than 67 people.
Diana Wolff, Rancho Palos Verdes
To the editor: Who can deny that homelessness is a serious problem? Lives are adrift and at risk, neighborhoods are blighted and property values are reduced.
But seriously, temporary trailers for only 67 people at a time that will cost $2.3 million the first year, and this is "just a start"?
Just do the math: That's about $17,000 per person, while for $30 per night at a budget motel, we could spend much less and for a longer period of time than the six months each person is expected to stay.
Some form of permanent, low-cost sheltering is needed, but this is an inefficient use of public money.
Terry Cavicchi, Thousand Oaks