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Letters to the Editor: So much wealth, so much poverty: L.A., how do you let this happen?

A woman sits in Echo Park as tents that are part of a large homeless encampment sit by the lake.
A woman relaxes in Echo Park as tents that are part of a large homeless encampment sit by the lake.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Recently, I visited Los Angeles and was appalled by the sheer number of homeless encampments. Being from a small town in the Midwest, I know about homelessness but have never seen it manifested to such a degree as in Los Angeles. (“Want to lower the number who are homeless? Prevent people from falling into homelessness,” editorial, March 23)

Yours has to be one of the richest cities in the United States, yet it appears that there is a huge separation between those who flash their wealth and those who are lucky to have a tent and a sleeping bag.

As an educator, I am all about helping people. Even while in Los Angeles, I talked to unhoused residents and gave out food, water and money. I wanted to know how these people ended up where they are; their life path was not planned this way.

Here’s my question for Los Angeles’ “elite” residents who own multiple homes and drive around in exotic cars: Why are you not investing in the people of the city that has made you wealthy? Sure, many of these people have substance abuse or mental health concerns, but everyone has demons. Why not give more of your conspicuous wealth to the shelters and service organizations that can help these people?

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Share your wealth and help the people in your own city.

Denise Larson, Sparta, Wis.

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To the editor: I commend The Times’ coverage of homelessness in Los Angeles, and I commend the many people and organizations that have addressed the needs of those who are forced to live unhoused.

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These are essential efforts, but we must also address the ultimate cause of the burgeoning homelessness crisis: massive income inequality.

For several decades, America’s wealth has been drained from the lower classes. Our country has one of the highest rates of income inequality of any developed nation, and government actions are mainly to blame. Our tax system favors those who already have far more wealth than they could ever use in a single lifetime.

Until we address and correct the unconscionable income inequality that corrodes our economic system and tax structure, we will continue to see a burgeoning, permanently impoverished class of homeless Americans who are forced to exist (not live) on our nation’s streets.

Dennis Clausen, Escondido

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To the editor: Until Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and members of the City Council make hard choices to lead rather than issue “grave concerns” and start changing zoning and building codes to promote larger multifamily apartment construction, lack of housing supply will keep rents unaffordable for the poor.

Recent reports state that L.A. County has a housing deficit of about 500,000 units. To fix this, government should promote middle-class apartment construction rather than single-family residences in fire-prone hillsides.

The lack of courage and foresight and the fear of NIMBYism in government will keep the homeless population high in Los Angeles.

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Ken Baldwin, Los Angeles


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