Readers React: Policies, not the economy, caused L.A.'s homelessness spike

Homeless man in Hollywood
A homeless man sits in a doorway near Highland Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard. The rise in homelessness comes at a time of renewed local focus on the problem.
(Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Another report on homelessness shows another major systemwide failure. Sorry, folks, this is not about the unemployment rate or lack of affordable housing — not with an increase in chronic homelessness of more than 60% since 2013, and not with an increase in the number of mentally ill homeless people of 23%. (“Homelessness up 12% in L.A. city and county,” May 11)

The vast majority of these folks didn’t just lose their job or couldn’t afford the rent. They have serious disabilities that have kept them on the streets for a very long time.

It’s time we stopped looking at homelessness as an isolated problem. The twin drivers of homelessness are mass incarceration and the foster care system. About half of the kids who age out of foster care will become homeless. And what about all those people the Sheriff’s Department lets out of the Twin Towers Correctional Facility?

Wake up, L.A. This is not about the economy; it’s about the failed policies of our elected officials.


Marsha Temple, Los Angeles

The writer is executive director of the nonprofit Integrated Recovery Network.


To the editor: I’ve been a resident of Venice for 18 years, and in that time the homeless population has grown. There’s a man I’ve seen for the past year lying on the street. He has a name. It’s Glenn.


Glenn is dying right in front of our eyes. If Glenn were a dog I’m fairly certain someone would have started an online fundraising campaign for him. But Glenn is a human who unfortunately doesn’t have the love and support from family and friends that we take for granted. Glenn is my friend, and he’s mankind’s brother.

Maybe we could do without our coffee one morning and pass that money on to someone like Glenn. It might just be the nicest thing that happens to that person all day, and wouldn’t that just make your day?

Dorothy Mountain, Venice


To the editor: Most people are homeless because they don’t have homes; it’s as simple as that. There aren’t enough homes in L.A. for everyone, so the poorest lose out, and it’s our fault for not allowing enough homes to be built.

Remember musical chairs? If there isn’t a vacant chair for you, you’re out of the game. When local groups discriminate against new residents by preventing or reducing new housing in their neighborhood, they prevent supply from keeping up with demand, which increases the number of people at the bottom of the economic ladder who lose out.

Housing is a matter of supply and demand. If we allow more housing in L.A., more people will have a home.

Sharon Gehl, San Diego


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