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Letters to the Editor: Why Karen Bass and Rick Caruso both give reason to hope on homelessness

Mayoral candidate Karen Bass, right, listens to the resident of a new home made from a repurposed cargo container.
(Steve Lopez / Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: Steve Lopez’s column, “$60,000 ‘casitas’ and giant awnings: Caruso, Bass pitch cheaper homeless units,” appeared in the paper the same day that Ezra Klein’s piece, “The Way Los Angeles Is Trying to Solve Homelessness Is ‘Absolutely Insane,’” was published by the New York Times. Both columns were based on interviews with L.A. mayoral candidates Karen Bass and Rick Caruso.

Klein, citing the nearly $600,000 per-unit cost of building in L.A., is extremely pessimistic and suggests that the next mayor might not be any more successful than the current mayor in addressing homelessness. Lopez is more optimistic. He writes of visiting a $60,000 pre-fabricated home and a 232-unit building that came in around $220,000 per unit.

Lopez’s conclusion: “The dueling housing pitches from the two candidates are a good thing. Adding less expensive housing to the mix, and chopping down construction time, is a step in the right direction.”

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Klein’s conclusion: “The politics of the affordable housing crisis are terrible. The politics of what you’d need to solve it are even worse.”

The homelessness problem in L.A. will improve over time. Lopez has a better take on the future.

Bruce Wessel, Santa Monica

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To the editor: Providing housing is only one piece of addressing homelessness. If it’s the sole focus of Caruso and Bass, they both lack big-picture thinking.

The goal has to be for homeless people who do not want to remain homeless to become self-sufficient.

For those forced into homelessness due to job loss, provide interim housing and financial support, and get them jobs that may involve training for new skills. For those who need help with mental health, we need to house and support them and help them get suitable work, which may involve training.

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Others may be beyond help or are happy the way they are. Those cases are more complicated. But, there are answers to everything.

Sid Pelston, Marina del Rey

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