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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Why can’t a country that created the New Deal end homelessness?

Homeless in Los Angeles
A person sleeps on the corner of 1st and Spring streets, across from Los Angeles City Hall.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: After the stock market crash of 1929, the Republican administration of President Herbert Hoover did more than any previous administration to ameliorate the effects of the economic collapse. It wasn’t nearly enough. (“An entire L.A. homeless encampment moved into apartments. But their past still found them,” Aug. 15)

Though President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was unable to restore prosperity during the Great Depression (World War II did that), it did restore hope and confidence in the American system.

Today we face countless new problems, but we do have the legacy of the New Deal to draw on. In other words, only massive government intervention at all levels can even begin to meet the challenges of homelessness, climate change, economic inequality and more.

The U.S. is the wealthiest nation in the world, but do we have the will and the charity in our hearts to face these challenges? The issue is in doubt.

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Daniel Connell, Moorpark

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To the editor: I found myself, while reading the well-written special report on homelessness by Thomas Curwen, almost in tears before feeling disbelief.

While I was able to empathize deeply when I read of how some of the homeless citizens of Broadway Place south of downtown Los Angeles wound up there, my empathy quickly dissolved when I read that those same citizens seemed to have the attitude that “yes, we’re homeless, but it’s you (the taxpayers) who have to make sure we are safe and housed.”

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I understand that when one is suffering through dire circumstances, many social graces go by the wayside. When outreach personnel from organizations such as People Concern get housing for the citizens of Broadway Place in new complexes, verbal abuse often occurs, and statements such as “it’s no better here than it was out there” are made.

And who, after being out on the street for more than a decade, gets thrown out of a nearly rent-free home because you can’t follow a few house rules?

Jacqueline West, Inglewood

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To the editor: I am a frequent visitor to Southern California, and my heart breaks for Los Angeles. The city’s worsening homelessness problem requires a creative solution.

It occurred to me that a shuttered shopping mall (such as the Westside Pavilion in West L.A. or the Carousel Mall in San Bernardino) could be converted into short-term housing for homeless people. Rather than letting these malls sit vacant, assemble teams of doctors, therapists, addiction counselors and volunteers to help homeless people rebuild their broken lives at these facilities.

This is just one idea, and I am sure the residents of Los Angeles have many more. It is my sincere hope that your beautiful city will find a solution before things deteriorate beyond repair.

Rebecca Vickers, Portsmouth, R.I.


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