* Congratulations on a dramatic and hard-hitting piece on runaways and foster care graduates in Hollywood (Dec. 12). To those of us who are hard at work fighting homelessness in Hollywood every day, it had the grim ring of truth. Thousands of young people are indeed exploited and victimized every day in Hollywood, and in return many of them exploit and victimize others. Drug and alcohol addiction, survival sex, and violence are daily facts of life on the street.
The article failed to mention another aspect of life in Hollywood, however, and that is the network of agencies that has formed to help these young people leave the streets. The Los Angeles Free Clinic and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles run the High-Risk Youth Program, the largest free clinic for adolescents in the country, right on Hollywood Boulevard, offering treatment and counseling for a range of physical and emotional ills, as well as employment assistance and HIV education, testing, and counseling. In addition, Angel’s Flight, My Friend’s Place, L.A. Youth Network, Options House, The Way In, Teen Canteen, Covenant House, and the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center all offer a range of services including food, clothing, shelter, transportation, counseling, and help and support in finding work, getting sober, and getting off the streets.
There is hope for young people like Heather and Angel. There are safe places to go. There is food, clothing, shelter, medical care, counseling, and help finding work, if Heather and Angel are ready to accept it. All they have to do is call us at (213) 462-8632, or dial the youth crisis line (800) THE-5200, or walk into any of the Hollywood agencies.
Los Angeles Free Clinic
* I was amused and disgusted by the article on foster care. As the former director of one of the state’s largest foster/group home organizations, and currently serving a federal prison sentence for offenses related to the financial (mis)management of that business, I am keenly aware of the way money is earned and used by the businesses that control the lives of children in foster care.
The article fails to expand on the monies that taxpayers invest every year in grotesque sums that yield dismal returns. Sums of money that are misspent, mismanaged and misappropriated, and if all were to be known to voters would surely create an outcry that would effect a change in a system that has control over a very fragile element of the future of this country.
SCOTT W. MALEK
Lompoc Federal Prison Camp