Letters to the Editor: Is Rick Caruso’s ‘short-term’ homelessness plan what L.A. needs?

Mayoral candidate Rick Caruso listens to residents of Highland Park.
Mayoral candidate Rick Caruso listens as residents of Highland Park talk about homelessness on Friday.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: In an earlier column than his most recent one on the mayoral candidates and homelessness, Steve Lopez called Rick Caruso’s plan to build 30,000 housing units a “short-term fix at best.” I’ve worked with homeless people for nearly a decade, and I believe that we need a short-term fix.

New York does not have sidewalk encampments like Los Angeles. This is not because it has low rents or a surging economy. It’s because encampments are illegal. As long as a bed is available, a person cannot camp on the sidewalk.

In L.A. we need more beds, and we need to make encampments a less appealing option than staying in one of those beds. And if 30,000 beds can’t happen, perhaps we could at least create more off-street encampment areas with security, food and showers.


Otherwise, we maintain the status quo, which is trying to convince people to get off the street using little more than the power of persuasion.

Diane Cyr Thompson, Los Angeles


To the editor: I would encourage Caruso to do what he can as an individual better than, I believe, he would be able to do as a mayor. And that is to use his personal wealth in a big way to help the unhoused residents of Los Angeles.

He could build new structures or give over some of his existing properties and help finance support staff for the purpose of housing and helping homeless people.

I propose this because I do not believe he is the better mayoral candidate when it comes to experience in government, and we’ve already had enough inexperienced politicians in this country. But he could do this for the city if he’s anxious to help.

Mary Hetherington, Los Angeles



To the editor: I agree with Jane Demian, who does volunteer homeless outreach and was quoted in Lopez’s column, that Caruso’s view of homelessness and unhoused people is not nuanced.

Karen Bass is a much better choice to deal with homelessness because she has a master’s degree in social work and will be able to be more effective in dealing with the several issues that will arise from this. Caruso is basically a developer, and everything and anything he has done has been geared toward making money.

The 30,000 new beds, especially ones that will be in new homes that Caruso says are “a couple hundred square feet,” seem incredibly unrealistic and untenable. To do this he’ll have to think about more than just money, including whether they will or will not be used, not to mention where they will be built.

Gerald Orcholski, Pasadena