Letters to the Editor: We must talk about mental illness and addiction if we want to help the homeless

Man lying on a sidewalk
A man lies on a cement sidewalk in downtown Los Angeles on Jan. 17, 2019.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: To address homelessness, people must talk about it truthfully. Those who want to help need to be honest about mental illness and addiction as well has how many homeless people are from outside California.

Columnist Nita Lelyveld touched on addiction somewhat, but it is a problem that advocates tend to downplay. For folks with addiction and mental illness, is the answer to build more housing? Will these people be able to care for themselves?

We all need to give the help that we can. Many times I’ve handed out blankets, money or gift cards. But the problems on our streets will continue unless there is better enforcement of laws on drug use, theft and littering. We also need to provide treatment for mental illness and addiction.

Jen Childs, Los Angeles



To the editor: Lelyveld eloquently reminds us to be compassionate and practical when helping homeless people.

My daughter and I have been making bags to give the homeless men and women we encounter. We fill gallon-size plastic zip-lock bags with socks, hats, toothpaste, hand wipes, snacks, aspirin, bandages, moisturizers, canned food and more. We started adding pens and notepads, as many people need to write down information about resources.

We carry these in our cars so we can hand them out at street corners and in parking lots. It isn’t much, but if enough of us do this, it really makes a difference.

Bad luck and illness can come to any of us. We are all vulnerable. It is important to be kind.

Ellen Williams, Carlsbad


To the editor: Thanks to Lelyveld for her column. My husband and I donate lots of clothing to thrift shops, and many times after we do it I remark that we should really give those clothes directly to homeless people because often the thrift shops charge too much.

Furthermore, I see well-to-do people shopping in those stores. I want those clothes to go to the needy.

I have given the jacket off my back, including once to a woman who was parked on the ground outside the Beverly Center. She thanked me profusely and turned around and put it on her child, who was hidden behind her. I cried and felt bad that I didn’t have a second sweater or coat for her.

Patti Pietschmann, Los Angeles


To the editor: Now I get my marching orders from a writer for the L.A. Times with regard to what my heart should tell me to do?

What to give a woman who once upon a time could type 103 words per minute on an electric typewriter or 65 on a manual one? Or the man who 11 short years ago owned a trucking company? How about some advice?

Here’s something from the late John Wooden: “There is a choice you have to make in everything you do. So keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.”

John Kelley, Newport Beach