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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: What Trump should learn from L.A.: Homelessness is a healthcare problem

Homelessness
Roscoe Bradley, 51, lives in an encampment with around 25 other homeless people underneath the 405 Freeway in West L.A.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I appreciated the visit that Rear Adm. Susan Orsega from U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps paid to Venice Family Clinic on on Tuesday to learn more about healthcare for people experiencing homelessness. (“Surprise! Trump wants to help L.A.'s homeless by cracking down on them,” editorial, Sept. 11)

Healthcare is sometimes overlooked in discussions about this issue. Those of us who provide care to people experiencing homelessness see that Los Angeles is in the midst of a healthcare crisis. The lifespan for people experiencing homelessness is about half as long as those with homes, and they are dying at a rate of nearly three a day.

Healthcare is an essential part of any solution. Providers such as ours practice “street medicine” by delivering care where people experiencing homeless live. They help outreach workers make a connection, and they provide the medical support, including medications for mental illness, that help make it possible to get people to accept an offer of shelter and ensure they succeed there.

We certainly hope that funding, legislation and better public policies will be the next steps after these visits by Trump administration officials to Los Angeles.

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Elizabeth Benson Forer, Venice

The writer is chief executive of the Venice Family Clinic.

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To the editor: President Trump is to be commended for sending a team of administration officials on a fact-finding trip to Los Angeles to learn about homelessness. The team has been consulting with Mayor Eric Garcetti and visiting some of the sites favored by people living on the street. There is talk of using federal dollars to alleviate the problem.

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That is all to the good and speaks to a solid commitment to address the issue.

What is not good is that Trump is using the plight of homeless people in California to bash the state and its leaders. His comments strongly suggest that he considers the problem to be peculiar to California.

The president can readily find plenty of homeless people not far from the White House. In fact, homeless people live in every state, and it is entirely appropriate to spend federal dollars to help these Americans get off the street.

Doug Tennant, Dana Point

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To the editor: It seems to me that the reason Trump is sending members of his administration to Los Angeles isn’t for the sake of solving the area’s homelessness problem.

Rather, he’s having his administration look at our problem so he can use it against us during the presidential campaign and impugn Los Angeles, Mayor Garcetti and Gov. Gavin Newsom.

We all know how much this president dislikes California, and he has not been known to help people purely out of concern or kindness.

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Linda Rourman, Temple City

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To the editor: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help” are the worst words ever spoken. If Los Angeles City Hall cannot get a handle on homelessness, what makes the federal government think it can?

If the federal government really wanted to help, it could increase eligibility for housing tax credits or provide considerably more money for housing vouchers, enabling many more individuals and families to keep their homes or apartments.

The L.A. Times Editorial Board has good ideas on what the president’s team should see and with whom they should talk. Maybe I’m wrong — maybe the feds will actually help, but I’m not holding my breath.

Suzanne Brugman, La Habra Heights


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