It was very upsetting to read that merchants and police alike are blaming the homeless, and in particular, agencies that serve homeless youth, for the loss of tourist business along Hollywood Boulevard.
Teen Canteen, the only agency mentioned by name in the article, opened its doors in 1985 in response to the growing number of runaway and homeless youth who migrate to the boulevard. Many other runaway youth service agencies also emerged throughout the '80s to meet the needs of the tens of thousands of young people living on the streets of Hollywood.
The homeless are attracted to the area because of such facilities as Teen Canteen, which provides food, counseling and a number of other services aimed at empowering youth by supplying them with the resources and support to get off the streets and into secure and healthy living situations.
In addition to the recession, a better explanation for the loss of business is that enough tourists have come to Hollywood Boulevard and reported back to their friends that the boulevard is dirty and far less than glamorous.
It is unfortunate when people begin to blame economic conditions on certain groups. Perhaps shopkeepers could help the situation by offering support to such agencies as Teen Canteen or by employing a homeless youth in their store.
The writer is director of Teen Canteen.