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Letters to the Editor: Don’t expect homeless people to jump at the chance to leave their communities

A worker with the St. Joseph Center talks with a homeless couple along Ocean Front Walk in Venice on July 7.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Frank Shyong’s wonderful column pointing out that homeless encampments, though dangerous, offer community, reminded me of the first person I brought in from homelessness, Scooter, who is now deceased.

It took years of us knowing each other for him to trust me. Because Scooter used a wheelchair and couldn’t stand without assistance, I was able to get him Social Security disability benefits. With a Section 8 certificate for rent and Social Security, he was set.

Still, he would occasionally take a bus to the place where he could spend the night with some old friends in a dry creek bed. I couldn’t understand this.

Shyong’s column caused me to look up the science to find the 2014 research paper “Pain as Social Glue.” We’ve seen this in ethnic groups in which members have experienced all manner of pain, from ostracization to death.

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Thanks to Shyong for helping us remember that people experiencing homelessness are people who share the need for acceptance, respect and, yes, each other.

Marsha Temple, Los Angeles

The writer is executive director of the Integrated Recovery Network.

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To the editor: Shyong’s article regarding the communities that homeless people have formed strikes at the core of what it means to be human.

Sure, we need food, water and shelter to survive the exigencies of life. But in order not just to exist but truly live, we must be part of something larger than our individual selves.

Community, no matter what form it takes, is the glue that binds us together.

I am a septuagenarian who has the necessities of life but lives without a larger community. Shyong’s column speaks to all of us who are invisible in plain sight.

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Marc Rogers, North Hollywood


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