Letters to the Editor: Criminalizing homelessness is cruel and financially reckless

Homeless tent camps
Amy Perkins of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, left, explains new rules and restrictions to Leticia Cervantes, who lives in a tent.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision last year on homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks did not create this problem. Rather, the biggest cause of this crisis is exorbitant rents.

Criminalizing homelessness by allowing police to cite people who sleep in public will only make the problem worse. People incarcerated for sleeping on the sidewalk will be released, but any mental disability or substance use disorder they may have had before will have been exacerbated.

Los Angeles County jails are already over capacity. It costs an average of more than $100 a day to keep someone in jail, and that’s before an inmate receives any very expensive medication for a psychiatric disorder. After inmates are released with a criminal record, it is even harder for them to get a job.

It would cost less and provide better results to spend funds on paying rent and providing services that lead to recovery and employment instead of incarceration with the consequent destabilization and unemployment.


Marsha Temple, Los Angeles

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

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