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Mentally Ill Housing Needed

I was very pleased to read the story “New Home Promises Stability to Mentally Ill” (Times, Feb. 23).

I felt it was especially timely to learn about the development of a new resource for severely and chronically disturbed individuals when the news is dominated by headlines about the possible closure of eight county clinics, layoffs of hundreds of trained professionals and general disarray in the county mental health system.

While it is not clear whether the tragic slaying of clinical social worker Robbyn Panitch at the Santa Monica clinic was directly related to budgetary cutbacks, her death does seem to symbolize the severity of the problems in our mental health system.

It is ridiculous to think that the county cannot afford to provide appropriate security to the staff working in the mental health system and an adequate professional staff to meet all the needs.

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Similarly, to me the opening of this new home by the California Living Homes symbolizes the potential benefit to the community as well as to the mentally disturbed residents of investing resources to meet needs. It is also symbolic of the results that can be attained by the public, private and voluntary agencies working together.

All of us need to be aware that much can be accomplished to assist our mentally disturbed fellow citizens. But it requires the investment of public and private money and the expertise of paid professionals and volunteers.

KATHARINE S. LESTER

Pasadena

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