To the editor: Steve Lopez states that “nobody is in charge,” and that is why homelessness is where it is in Los Angeles. In fact, there are too many people “in charge,” and those in charge have authorized hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent on outreach staff, data collection, law enforcement, clean-ups and limited new construction.
First and foremost, the priority should be to get people off the streets and into homes. These “homes” can come in a variety of arrangements, and can be quickly and economically created.
After getting people inside, then we need to address the cause of homelessness: lack of money.
Mental illness and drug addiction do not cause homelessness. There are millions of people who have serious mental illness or substance abuse problems who will never experience homelessness because they have access to money and support. People turn to drugs as a coping mechanism no matter their socio-economic situation.
I am the executive director of a small nonprofit that operates a drop-in center for homeless people. I have listened to hundreds of people tell me their stories, which all end the same way: “I had no money to pay the rent.”
Julie Lie, Long Beach
To the editor: I agree with Lopez that the rising epidemic of homelessness in our cities demands responsibility and urgent action.
Having volunteered at shelters, I have met a teacher, a nurse assistant, a writer, an accountant, a salesperson and a manager — people from diverse walks of life experiencing homelessness. None of us are immune, and this is everyone’s problem.
One solution that can prevent homelessness is a renter’s tax credit to families who are paying more than 30% of their household income on rent. Legislation to establish a renter’s credit has been introduced in the last three sessions of Congress.
Ask your member of Congress to enact a renter’s tax credit.
Sri Jaladi, St. Louis