Letters to the Editor: Don’t expect a committee to solve mental health care for homeless people

Skid row
A man transports himself on a wheelchair near skid row in downtown Los Angeles.
(Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: Jonathan Sherin and Darrell Steinberg seem to call for a committee and new semantics rather than address the hard facts of homeless people who cannot or will not care for themselves. (“Mentally ill people in desperate need of treatment often don’t get it because of an antiquated law,” Opinion, Aug. 20)

Fifty years ago, when there was plenty of money, then-Gov. Jerry Brown chose not to remediate his immediate predecessor Ronald Reagan’s decision not to fund community mental health. There are no cheery solutions for profoundly mentally ill people, although medicine and therapy can help.

Can the financially strapped state somehow fund community mental health care? Does the public even want it where they live?


Since our society is non-utopian in every other way, it is unreasonable to expect some sweet solution on this reached by committee.

William Josephs, Los Angeles

The writer is a clinical psychologist.


To the editor: Some weeks ago, when driving in the San Fernando Valley, I saw a homeless woman just standing in the blazing heat. I had a nice, unopened bottle of cold water with me, so I pulled up next to her and offered it to her.

She absolutely ignored me. Who knows what storms were going on in her head?

After shouting from my car for a while, I finally gave up and drove away. Then I called 911, and the dispatcher seemed almost uninterested, saying, “If they don’t want help there’s not much we can do about it.”

I didn’t know what else to do. What can be done? Can anybody rescue a person like this? She might be dead by now.


I would love to hear from the op-ed article authors or local providers — anyone who can provide a good answer to this. It’s sad to see people dying on the streets around us without being able to do a thing.

Les Brockmann, Granada Hills