To the editor: While columnist George Skelton focuses on the possibility of higher taxes in order to address the homelessness problem in California, he does not discuss what makes any policy solution next to impossible: NIMBYism.
There are more than 150,000 people out on the streets in California, but few people are willing to accept any kind of housing for these people in their neighborhoods, where it may affect the value of their homes, businesses and so on. Yes, it’s tough dealing with people who have mental health issues, problems with addiction and little (if any) access to help.
Tell that to business owners and residents in places where homeless encampments are part of everyday life. Someone is sleeping in front of your storefront in Sacramento or defecating in an alleyway in San Diego, and you’ve got to deal with it. But for the rest of us, for the most part, it’s out of sight, out of mind.
Gov. Gavin Newsom cannot help people find their moral compass. That is on us. Until then, there will be no solution. The money involved and where it will come from is really a secondary issue.
Edgar Kaskla, Garden Grove
The writer is a lecturer in the political science department at Cal State Long Beach and the author of the book, “California Politics: The Fault Lines of Power, Wealth and Diversity.”
To the editor: It’s good that Newsom is committed to ending homelessness in California, but he should know there is not one “homelessness.” There are several causes of homelessness for different people living on the streets.
People with mental disabilities need special services, but Los Angeles County has unnecessarily stringent requirements for these people to get help from agencies that provide housing as well as mental health services.
Two other drivers of homelessness are mass incarceration and the foster care system. No one should leave jail without a plan for housing and services. Housing vendors have beds available if the county would pay for them with rent subsidies.
Diversion of custodial parents from incarceration would prevent their children from becoming victims of the foster care system, which causes 50% of these young people to become homeless by the time they are 18 years old. That diversion is already state law; it just hasn’t been implemented in Los Angeles County.
Marsha Temple, Los Angeles
The writer is executive director of the Integrated Recovery Network.
To the editor: The state of California is not to blame for homelessness. Many of the vagrants are in their situation due to their own stiff-necked pride to “live life their way.”
A government entity may provide some relief though, but ultimately it is an individual’s responsibility to accept the many forms of help that are available. A changed life comes from a changed heart, not government largesse.
Earl Barnett, Visalia
To the editor: Increasing the availability of low-income housing will go a long way toward solving homelessness. However, what about those suffering from mental illness and various forms of addiction, many of whom refuse shelter?
Will coercion be required to get them off the street?
Phillip Gold, Westlake Village