ALPERN AT LARGE--When I first heard about City workers laying down infrastructure for the homeless encampment on Venice Blvd., and when I first heard about used needles and human feces at the Farmers Market location on Venice Blvd., my first reaction was one of revulsion and anger.
After all, had I not worked with others for nearly twenty years to make Venice Blvd. beautiful?
And then I had the epitome of an epiphany of empathy of such egregious entropy:
We're all just not doing enough--especially for those who refuse our help--for the homeless.
So here are seven more ways that we can do more to help the homeless-by-choice:
1) Please send them the names, addresses, phone numbers, and any personal information of our electeds you can. Because it's our electeds who have the power to clothe, feed, and take care of our new peeps in Los Angeles, and their homes and resources should be theirs for the taking.
2) Instead of a Neighborhood Watch, form Sharing Committees on your block and neighborhood to allow the homeless-by-choice access to your home, and to your neighbors' homes, on a rotating week-by-week basis. Perhaps the right schedule involves having the homeless-by-choice share your home every 3-4 months ...
... or perhaps you should give them your home for a week while you hang out under your favorite freeway overpass to best experience what their lifestyle is.
3) Instead of the measly Measure H and HHH funds, perhaps you should make sure you offer one-tenth of your income (pre-tax levels, of course, not just the lower one-tenth of what you keep after taxes) to your homeless-by-choice neighbors. You know, the whole tithe thing?
4) Declare yourself a diabetic to score some clean, unused needles to donate to the homeless-by-choice if they so need or want them. Because, you know...public health and all that.
5) Learn the fine arts of chair massage and pedicuring because those homeless-by-choice folks have a very, very hard life compared to the rest of us. Don't they need pampering, too? Don't they need the benefits of human touch, too? And what better human touch than YOUR human touch!
6) Let your children come to enjoy and befriend the overpass denizens who are homeless by choice. Need affordable daycare for your toddlers? Need tutoring for your school-aged kids? I have no doubt that your friendly neighborhood professionally-homeless specialists will be excellent influences for your children. After all...it takes a village, right?!
7) Lastly, and most importantly, form your own local chapter of the homeless-by-choice advocacy organization taking hold throughout Los Angeles and many other major urban thoroughfares throughout the nation. In particular, the Caring Responsible Interested Mentors In Noticing All Licentious Societies (CRIMINALS) is one such advocacy organization that merits our involvement.
Because dammitall, we're just not doing enough for those who can't, won't, or otherwise refuse our help.
(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 was (termed out) 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 its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee and Vice-Chair of its Planning Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at email@example.com. 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.)