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Letters to the Editor: L.A.'s encampment ban is unwieldy and inhumane

 A few homeless encampments remain on the beach in Venice on July 29.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Homeless encampments are indeed a blight. That said, the Los Angeles City Council’s ban merely underscores the difference in power and influence between the privileged and the “down and out.” (“L.A. finalizes its anti-camping law, setting the stage for vote-by-vote enforcement,” July 28)

There is general confusion about the utility of legal remedies; it’s as if a problem can be solved by declaring it illegal. The distress caused by homelessness will not be reduced until everyone in the community accepts responsibility for it. What form might a shared responsibility approach take?

It might begin with a “truth and reconciliation” approach in which the rights and needs of all community members are recognized. In this model, the wealthy and powerful would have the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to citizenship by using some of their resources to provide appropriate opportunities for their less fortunate neighbors. Everyone would benefit.

In the upcoming mayoral election, homelessness is already a major issue. Candidates will attempt to advance their cause by proposing governmental solutions. Hopefully a leader will emerge who can help local communities accept responsibility for the social issues that afflict them.

Eric Foxman, West Hills

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To the editor: Across the 15 Los Angeles City Council districts, enforcement of the new anti-camping ordinance will likely range from strict to lax.

That uneven approach might goad Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to use whatever jurisdiction he has to forcibly remove illegal campers and, as he told columnist Robin Abcarian recently, “take them to jail, clean them up, straighten them out and then take them to a halfway house once we stabilize them.”

Whether or not he can follow through, the mere threat should be good enough to prod government, social services and community groups to coordinate more effectively on homelessness.

Ralph Goldstein, Altadena

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To the editor: The Los Angeles City Council’s approach to encampments is negative, punitive and inhumane.

Sure, there are many encampments in Koreatown, where I live, but there are also multiple apartments under construction, all out of reach of those who need housing. What is the City Council doing to incentivize affordable housing construction?

Camp dwellers do not want temporary shelter; they want permanent housing. Thanks to Council members Mike Bonin and Nithya Raman, who opposed the majority vote.

What will be in place is apparently an unwieldy system with consequences. What should be in place is a strategy to locate housing with services and support and to facilitate the building of affordable housing.

Starting with the solution instead of measures to penalize people on the street who don’t comply would have spoken to the dignity of every person and their right to housing.

Lenore Navarro Dowling, Los Angeles


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