Do We Want to Help LA’s Homeless, Or Just Spend Money On Them?

LOS ANGELES

ALPERN AT LARGE--Asking others, and asking ourselves, to do the right thing is often much, MUCH harder to do in the real world, the adult world, the world that IS, compared to the world that we wished it would be. 

So as a physician who probably sees more homeless/poor patients compared to my peers, and as someone who's fought for mobility and the quality of life for both the poor and the middle class, and as an Angeleno who believes in the moral need to fulfill one's civic duties, there's a reason or three why I've come out so hard against the Mayor and his "Garcettivilles": 

1) Homelessness is worse on his watch, and I'm a "results-oriented" kind of guy. 

2) Affordable housing is worse on his watch...much worse. $2500 per month for a small apartment in many areas of the City?  Really? 

3) The cost of living (utilities, local taxes and fees) has shot up on his watch. 

So the questions of WHY there are more homeless, and WHO are these homeless, are reasonable.

And these questions of mature, and timely, and vital, if we want to allow people the ability to affordably live in the City of the Angels. 

Fortunately (for the Mayor), the Mayor has hordes of loyal Angelenos who've confused spending more with doing more, and who scream and yell and name-call anyone who asks why we keep doing the same things that have been proven wrong again and again and again and again. 

Unfortunately (for the middle class and the poor), things are going to get much, much worse until we all confront this horrible crisis like results-oriented, facts-oriented adults. 

So here are some tough questions (and those who, really, REALLY want to reduce homelessness and increase affordable housing know what the answers are) for those of us who give a damn about homelessness to ponder: 

1) Do you really want to reduce homelessness and enhance affordable housing, or are you doing it to tug on others' heartstrings and purse strings? 

2) Do you really want to reduce homelessness and enhance affordable housing, or did you just spend money and considerable your obligation to those causes over? 

3) Do you really want to reduce homelessness and enhance affordable housing, or do you want to define what "affordable housing is"? 

4) Do you really want to reduce homelessness and enhance affordable housing, or do you just want to lump all homeless people together and not distinguish how to address each subgroup and help them accordingly? 

5) Do you really want to reduce homelessness and enhance affordable housing, or are you too scared to distinguish between those with ties to the community and who need help, versus those with no ties to the community and who need to be escorted to the city/county border? 

6) Do you really want to reduce homelessness and enhance affordable housing, or are you OK with making this a "homeless mecca" for malcontents throughout the entire nation? 

7) Do you really want to reduce homelessness and enhance affordable housing, or do you want to learn how best to help and encourage independence and mental health care among the homeless? 

8) Do you really want to reduce homelessness and enhance affordable housing, or do you want to address students, seniors, and workforce housing the same way (because they all have different needs, and different solutions)? 

9) Do you really want to reduce homelessness and enhance affordable housing, or do you want to just turn a blind eye on the high costs of utilities and essentials in Los Angeles? 

10) And finally...Do you really want to reduce homelessness and enhance affordable housing, or is all that just ... not ... your ... problem?

 

(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud father and husband to two cherished children and a wonderful wife.  He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at alpern@marvista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us . The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)

-cw

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