Thu, Jul

LA Needs a New Measur(able) HHH … And Some Electeds with Real Desire to Fix the Problem

ALPERN AT LARGE--Let's face it: we just loooooove writing for new measures to tax ourselves, but we suck at demanding that the taxes get spent in a measurable and cost-effective manner. I mean REALLY now ... are we that blind and childish as to presume throwing money at a problem necessarily fixes it? 

Well, maybe we are. Because many otherwise liberal-leaning Angelenos voted NO on Measure EE, despite supporting the teachers in their strike--the voters appeared neither to trust the LAUSD leadership and/or the UTLA leadership and/or the Mayor.

But back to homelessness. 

As both a physician and an observer of how affordable housing is fixed (or is NOT fixed) in a credible and effective manner, I'll repeat the three main subgroups (with plenty of overlap, to be sure) of homeless, and of which I and others have opined in CityWatch.

If we are to survive as a modern, civilized, and educated society, we need to address with our heart, head, and honor (and everyone needs to act like an honorable adult).

1) The Working Poor:

Use Your Heart: What's going on with the Ellis Act? What's going on with Sacramento and dirty politics to allow state laws to mandate overdevelopment and a litany of prima facie unconstitutional construction? Are Governor Newsom and Mayor Garcetti and the Legislature that stone cold tone-deaf that they will allow the paving over of California?

Use Your Head: Just how many homes and properties are owned by foreign nationals at the expense of honest, rule-abiding, American citizens? Just how many affordable housing units are being built with our new developments, and with the outcry of "we need affordable housing" when we're actually building developments for the upper 10% of income earners?

Use Your Honor: It's up to us all to ensure that Measure HHH funds are spent right, and to hold Downtown's feet to the fire? Which Workforce Housing Developments can be built, and can we demand 25-40% affordable housing for those developers who claim to be truly affordable?

2) Psychiatric and/or Substance Abuse Patients:

Use Your Heart: There are major differences between folks down on their luck financially and those who require halfway houses. These halfway houses can't be overclustered and require tough and immutable rules with respect to law enforcement and nuisance abatement, but they are needed. They will also cost money (like Measure HHH).

Use Your Head: Those who cannot take care of themselves cannot be expected to have the same judgment as someone who is in full control of their mental faculties. There is no room in this decent society for prisons, but halfway houses with required with strict monitoring of medications and psychiatric/substance abuse care.

Use Your Honor: No one who is without full control of their mental faculties has the right to be a potential danger to themselves or to their others. Just as affordable medication and medical care is a MUST in our society, we also must declare that any person who is a full-blown schizophrenic, in a manic state, or who is a meth addict MUST be treated.

3) Those Who've Chosen Homelessness as a Lifestyle (yes, they exist!)

Use Your Heart: Many of these individuals (the ones who refuse help and relocation to housing, and who are fine with defecating/urinating on your property and selling drugs) need confrontation. Some have borderline and/or antisocial personality disorders and are downright manipulative. Yet they need both counseling and confrontation.

Use Your Head: If we're being manipulated, then we must acknowledge it. Unemployment nationwide is at historic lows, and there are many states and cities in the nation with more affordable lifestyles. Precious funds and resources wasted on those who don't want help are terrible and unaffordable diversions from those who do want help.

Use Your Honor: For those over 18, and particularly those over 21, we're all adults and we all make choices. Choosing false narratives over harsh reality helps no one. Those who never got love as a child or teenager deserve mercy, but sooner or later we have to confront those who ARE in control of their faculties, and still refuse help. 

To be honest, I don't believe those electeds and connecteds in charge of Measure HHH have any real capabilities or desire to fix the problem. Yet those of us who do don't have to just take it any more from those who we trust and pay to ADDRESS and RESOLVE the issues of homelessness.

And it all begins with understanding that (with few exceptions) there ARE answers to the problems surrounding and related to homelessness.


(CityWatch Columnist, Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father 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 Outreach Committee, and currently is Co-Chair of both its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure and Planning Committees. 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.)