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How to fight NIMBYism: Put the next homeless housing projects in Brentwood and Pacific Palisades

How to fight NIMBYism: Put the next homeless housing projects in Brentwood and Pacific Palisades
At dusk, a homeless woman walks along the street in Venice on Dec. 5, 2017. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As The Times Editorial Board makes clear, NIMBYism regarding permanent supportive housing for homeless people will require bold corrective action. (“Don't let NIMBYs — or weak-kneed politicians — stand in the way of homeless housing,” editorial, Feb. 27)

Brentwood and Pacific Palisades are ideal locations in which to build such housing. Both have great retail areas that are walking distance from houses and apartments. The quality schools there would serve the formerly homeless children well.

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Most important, these two wealthy neighborhoods could set an example for the rest of the city.

Start with a modest 600 units each, equally divided between mentally ill persons, the elderly, parents with children, veterans, drug addicts in treatment and young single men who are homeless for other reasons. Build and open such housing in these communities first, despite resistance from the locals.

When the wealthy enclaves of Los Angeles step up and shoulder their fair share, the folks in other areas will be more welcoming of new supportive housing in their neighborhoods. Anyone have any better ideas to turn the NIMBY tide?

Rob Dean, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Thanks to the Los Angeles Times for bringing the homelessness crisis to the fore. Every community — and every government — has a responsibility to deal with this, not only to serve those who live on the street, but also to help the housed residents of Los Angeles who see their neighborhoods degrade from the grim sites, horrific smells and encampment sprawl.

For homeless veterans, the federal government owns 388 acres of land in the heart of West Los Angeles that was deeded for the specific purpose of housing. That land is the Department of Veterans Affairs campus on Wilshire and Sepulveda boulevards.

The VA has promised to build 1,200 supportive housing units on the property for veterans who, after having fought and served their country with honor, are left to live on the streets, many with mental and physical disabilities connected to their service. That land is the single biggest opportunity for homeless housing in L.A. County.

Thanks to years of advocacy, building this housing on the VA campus appears to have political and community support. But with a 57% spike in veteran homelessness last year, the federal government must act quickly.

Jesse Creed, Los Angeles

The writer is executive director of the group Vets Advocacy.

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To the editor: How many people would read your editorial if the print headline was changed from its current “The desperate fight for homeless housing” to “The desperate fight for public housing for the homeless”?

Public housing was tried on a massive scale after World War II. Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis had 33 buildings that were 11 stories each. Robert Taylor in Chicago had 24 16-story buildings. At one point, 95% of Taylor’s 27,000 residents were unemployed and listed public assistance as their main source of income. The last Taylor building was demolished in 2007.

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Narcotics, violence and the perpetuation of poverty doomed all public housing projects.

Scattering high-density affordable housing and supportive housing throughout the city of Los Angeles is repeating the errors of last century’s public housing debacle.

Bob Munson, Newbury Park

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To the editor: On a recent rainy morning, I passed a homeless man standing next to a soaking bedroll near a freeway offramp giving all of us in warm cars his middle finger. An hour later, I passed again, the man and his finger still erect.

If we don’t do more than pass Measure H, renounce NIMBYism and prod our politicians to action, then we certainly deserve his gesture.

Linda Fell, Long Beach

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