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Letters to the Editor: Another tax won’t fix homelessness. Rejecting NIMBYism might

Two people walk past tents and bicycles clustered behind a chain-link fence at a park
Tents are seen in parts of Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights. A proposal for a new property sales tax seeks to raise money for more housing and shelters.
(Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: There’s another city ballot initiative in the works to levy a new tax to help fund housing for homeless people. Let’s be real about this problem.

More than $1 billion has been set aside to fund housing and services for homeless people these last few years. Polls have shown that voters in Los Angeles support building more housing and shelters, and they overwhelmingly blame local politicians for the state of affairs.

A better question to ask in surveys is this: Do you approve of having a homeless housing development or shelter next door to you, across the street from you, down the street from you or even in your neighborhood? I bet you would get a much different response than the polls we’ve seen.

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Every time there’s a project to build housing or shelters for homeless people, housed community members gather to stop the project. So we need to stop blaming the politicians and instead blame ourselves, because the problem will never be solved as long as people say, “Not in my neighborhood.”

David Craft, Los Angeles

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To the editor: We do not need another ballot measure for more taxes of any kind. What we need is accountability for previous propositions and taxes first.

It is amazing to me that people keep voting for more taxes and bonds when there does not seem to be any accountability. Billions have been collected and spent statewide over the last several years, and where has this money gone? It does not seem to be getting people off the streets.

We need the ballot measure that Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, a mayoral candidate, is putting forward: no camping on sidewalks or in other public places if you are offered housing or shelter.

Dafni Black, Culver City

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To the editor: The proposed tax on home sales above $5 million to alleviate homelessness is a bad idea. A better idea is to tax those who caused the homelessness crisis.

In the 2007-09 recession, about 10 million homes were lost to foreclosure. Well, they weren’t really lost; they were purchased from the banks in bulk by real estate investment trusts and other hedge funds at deep discounts. Those mega-owners now control the rental market, and if you want to rent you have to play by their rules.

No longer do we deal with mom-and-pop landlords. Rents are now whatever the market will bear, and competition is severely restricted. That leads to evictions and the ensuing inability of those tenants to ever again pass a required credit check to rent an apartment.

There is no surefire solution, but landlords owning three or more units should be required to pay city and county taxes on rental receipts and a surcharge on units unrented for more than two months. If they do not pay, then they should be denied access to courts for evictions.

Terrence Cooney, Studio City


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