Author: Joe

The Worst Thing That Can Happen Is If You Move People Up and Out into One Apartment

The Worst Thing That Can Happen Is If You Move People Up and Out into One Apartment

Letters to the Editor: Is Rick Caruso’s ‘short-term’ homelessness plan what L.A. needs?

It’s a little late to start talking about “short-term” and “long-term” homelessness, but it’s never too late. I have been talking about this since a very long time ago, and now it’s time for an official debate.

We have come a long way in L.A. since the idea of building high-density “pantries” for the homeless was first broached. I remember back in the ‘80s when we were working in Los Angeles with folks from New York who wanted to help our homeless neighbors and they said, “We are really good at taking care of people living on the streets. But what do we have on our side that will keep people who are homeless from ever becoming homeless, if we built high-density, single-room-occupancy buildings with apartments built to code?”

We had all the good intentions, but what we failed to do was to give our homeless neighbors the tools they needed to get off the streets.

We put the homeless in housing that wasn’t a safe environment. We used resources for our homeless neighbors. We had great ideas, but we did not provide the homeless with the tools to get off the streets.

We were talking a few years ago at the Los Angeles Homeless Youth Conference and the founder of that organization said, “I am not going to allow this to continue. I will not allow you to move people up and out into brand-new buildings, buildings with no common bathrooms and no common showers, no common dining areas and no common community gardens.” We looked at our homelessness problem and said, “What’s the worst thing that can ever happen? Do you think the homeless will get on the streets if we put 10 to 20 people into one apartment?”

Yes. The worst thing that can happen happens if you move them up and out into one apartment.

The problem is the homeless were not homeless when we put them into that building, their addiction or mental illness or their mental

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