Opinion

Readers React: Reducing homelessness is impossible without ending mass incarceration

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Tents on skid row near downtown Los Angeles on Jan. 24.
( Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Los Angeles will never reduce homelessness unless public officials reduce the causes of homelessness: mass incarceration and the resultant number of young people in foster care, 50% of whom will be homeless and involved with the justice system by the time they are 21. (“L.A. spent $619 million on homelessness last year. Has it made a difference?” May 11)

No one who was homeless at time of arrest should leave county jail without a plan for housing, healthcare and employment services. Diverting moms, as an editorial in the L.A. Times suggests, would help reduce the demand for foster care. Diversion must be accompanied with wrap-around services for the entire family, with special attention given to the children.

Yes, these services will be expensive, but homelessness has a moral and public health cost to everyone in Los Angeles. Re-arresting, re-trying and re-incarcerating the same people costs more money than investing in solutions that prevent crime as well as homelessness.

Marsha Temple, Los Angeles

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

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To the editor: Apparently, money alone isn’t the answer to homelessness.

Last year, the city and county together spent $619 million to provide shelter to the area’s estimated 53,000 homeless people. That works out to $11,679.25 per person. The city also spent $77 million for two homeless shelters that provide room for only 147 people. That works out to about $524,000 per person.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Penny Wood, Vista, Calif.

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To the editor: We spent $619 million on homelessness last year and have practically nothing to show for it. That is an outrage. It just shows how incompetent government is.

If the government wants to do something to house homeless people, it should get rid of barriers to development, including the California Environmental Quality Act that results in endless lawsuits and even some of the Coastal Commission’s decisions.

Let people build.

Chris Richgels, Long Beach

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