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Opinion

Readers React: Why build a homeless shelter in Koreatown when permanent housing is a better option?

LOS ANGELES, CA JUNE 29, 2018: People in opposition to the controversial temporary homeless shelte
Residents of Koreatown protest a homeless shelter proposed by City Council President Herb Wesson at L.A. City Hall on June 29.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The “bridge housing” planned for Koreatown may prove to be a bridge to nowhere.

If Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson and Mayor Eric Garcetti had bothered to consult any homeless people, they would recognize the majority of these unfortunates strongly resist the idea of sleeping in group sites. That’s understandable given the amount of untreated mental illness that could lead to attacks.

Instead, why not spend all the funds on low-income housing? This time, there shouldn’t be such a concentration of units that replicates the alienating mistakes of project housing. Rather, the aim should be small blocks of modest units with social welfare and mental health offices onsite or nearby. If 5,000 units could be built each year over the next decade, we just might be able to celebrate having made a great dent in this problem by the time we host the Summer Olympics in 2028.

As for additional sources to help fund this kind of housing, why not tax all short-term rentals at 20%, since the surge of such rentals has pinched the housing stock?

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Sally Stein, Los Angeles

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To the editor: It’s time to address homeless encampments as they are rather than just considering the billions of dollars available to spend on long-term relief.

City officials have long acted as if it was OK for people to sleep on the streets, as long as they did it in skid row. Expanding on that, we should permit homeless people to camp on the streets as they do now, but only in selected industrial areas and not in residential neighborhoods or parks.

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Business owners could be given tax breaks and other incentives to accommodate the inconvenience. Sanitation and safety requirements could be worked out. Best of all, people could be offered housing as it becomes available.

Often, police are forced to respond to complaints about encampments by saying there is nothing they can do. I think we can do something about it, compassionately but with the needs of local residents considered as well.

Roger Walton, North Hills

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To the editor: When my Filipino family moved into what is now Koreatown, there was a housing covenant that prevented Asian and other minority groups from purchasing property in this area.

Today, many Korean residents of that neighborhood are protesting the construction of bridge housing on a city-owned parking lot.

It is ironic that many residents of Koreatown now lay claim to neighborhoods where once they were newcomers themselves. No one protested their arrival and establishment of businesses and homes.

It is wrong to discriminate against the less fortunate. It is sad that many Korean residents cannot embrace the “other,” when they themselves were once the “other.”

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Lenore Navarro Dowling, Los Angeles

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