If You Build It, They Will Come
The 119-page report of the Bring L.A. Home “blue ribbon” commission calls for financing the $1.5-billion a year expansion with a state or local bond issue, and other sources. The three-year study was announced today at a press conference in front of Skid Row’s Midnight Mission.
Most of L.A.’s homeless population is already the castoffs from almost every major community in the U.S., and migrated here because their hometowns were unable or unwilling to provide the necessary charity for survival. Even the Los Angeles charities that do help the homeless could not do so were it not for federal funding and private grants that support these minimal services.
The dirty little secret behind New York’s successful reduction of homeless from 80,000 to 30,000 was cutting off many of the free city and state programs that allowed the recipients to survive in the Big Apple. How many of that 50,000 reduction came straight to sunny southern California?
Regardless how much compassion one has for his unfortunate brother, the Bible says it is better to teach a man to fish, than to give him fish. The problem is that a large percentage of the downtown homeless are not, and never will be, teachable. Their brains are unalterably fried from years of drug use.
It is also conceivable that many of the Skid Row homeless feel at home downtown, and would not move to North Hollywood or West Covina, even if they were provided first class transportation. Their friends are on Skid Row; so are their dope vendors and familiar surroundings. A proposed “stabilization” center would be placed in each of the five L.A. supervisor districts.
West Covina Mayor Steve Herfert stated that the first he had heard of the proposal to locate one of the centers in his city was the evening before the announcement. He asked why, during the three-year preparation of the report, wasn’t anyone in his municipality contacted for input? The suggested site is in the middle of an area that West Covina is trying to re-vitalize. Herfert wondered who would invest in a development that was about to receive 2,000 homeless?
“Anybody who will be a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) on this issue – shame on them,” stated supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Fellow supervisor Don Knabe tried to add an amendment to allow local cities to veto a location within their boundries, but the restriction was voted down by the majority. Any local official that endorses placing a center in his town risks the wrath of the voters, and homeowners who believe their property values will suffer.
Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal suggested that the increase in taxes to finance these shelters could force many homeowners, especially elderly on fixed incomes, to lose their homes.
Homelessness is a problem that will never be eradicated, as promised by the more enthusaiastic program supporters. Even the role model for charity, Jesus Christ, said that “The poor will always be with you.”
The only sensible remediation for the homeless problem is to classify and separate out of Skid Row, the families with children, and those who can be trained for marketable skills. They must be placed in an environment without access to drugs, and mentored by those who have the training and compassion to turn around failed lives.
For those whom a reasonable evaluation indicates there is little hope for improvement, let them keep their small Skid Row corner of Los Angeles, and let those organizations, like the Midnight Mission, continue to feed and minister to these unfortunate citizens. It’s all we can do.