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Letters to the Editor: It isn’t heartless to ask why someone’s homeless before offering help

Homeless couple
Loxk Calhoun, left, and Bri Meilbeck at PodShare DTLA in Los Angeles on Oct. 4.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Columnist Nita Lelyveld clearly missed the underlying point of the readers who expressed concern about her blindness to the reasons Loxk Calhoun and Bri Meilbeck became homeless shortly after arriving in Los Angeles from Detroit. The “why” is, in fact, the single more important thing to know if there are to be solutions to the homeless problem.

The idea that homelessness will be solved by building more housing and thus lowering costs is misguided. Because the climate in California (weather, political and social) is appealing, lower housing costs will simply reverse or slow emigration from the state. The result: Higher housing costs.

Also, because of mental illness or addiction, some prefer homelessness over living in group housing. They need access to treatment, and no one can be forced into treatment except in extreme cases. Those rendered homeless due to loss of a job may require retraining. Those rendered homeless because of a physical problem may require free or low-cost medical care.

So, forgive me if I didn’t take Lelyveld’s “Hollywood dreamer” story the way she hoped. She needs to consider the “why” more in reporting on homelessness.

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Stephanie Scher, Los Angeles

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To the editor: I can think of a good way to show why we should feel compassion toward homeless people.

Solicit stories from and write about people who came to L.A. on the verge of falling into homelessness, and through a stroke of luck or good fortune stayed and are now thriving.

Joe Youmans, Laguna Woods

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To the editor: Lelyveld did not address one issue: Why should the residents of Los Angeles provide for recent arrivals who were better off before they came to Southern California? Don’t we have enough homeless people without importing them from other states?

N. E. Byrne, Santa Barbara


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