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Opinion

Readers React: Mentally ill homeless people need more than just housing

To the editor: I applaud the efforts of our state lawmakers to aid our city’s listless approach to our homelessness problem. (“California legislators propose spending $2 billion to build housing for homeless,” Jan. 4)

However, I disagree that the “housing first” model has been very successful. Few homeless on our streets are served by plans for building low-cost housing; in fact, I have found poor citizens dying just as easily living alone in small housing units as they do on the streets.

The infirm and mentally ill need constant hands-on support. A better approach would be to direct all infirm and mentally ill homeless citizens into our already existing and successful skilled nursing home care programs. Such group housing units are being used now and are less expensive to develop than individual units.

Encourage local health entrepreneurs to develop large homes and housing complexes for such use, and aid them with low-interest loans.

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Milt Kogan, MD,  Los Angeles

The writer has treated homeless patients in downtown L.A. for 40 years.

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To the editor: Housing first is a necessity for people with severe mental illness.

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My homeless son visits two weekends per month. I can predict his condition from his answer to my question, “Did you sleep inside last night?”

When he is able to get a roof over his head, he can actually show up and enjoy time with me. When he is back on the streets, he mutters, glares and spends his time in his delusions. I long for the day when he will have a key, a front door, a bed, a home of his own.

I am weary of all the money thrown at this problem. Who is taking all this money for “plans” that never reach my son?

Laura Meyers, Marina del Rey 

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