GUEST COMMENTARY - LA Mayor Karen Bass doesn’t like my new term “HOMELESS REFUGEES”. I know that because she personally told me so (in response to a question I asked during a Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils Meeting recently). She did, however, seem to agree that our homeless, living on LA city sidewalks, regrettably have zero basic facilities.
I’m calling them “Homeless Refugees” because if they were actually 46,000+ Ukrainians dropped into LA overnight, by daybreak, they would receive the following treatment as true refugees. Our government would provide them with shelter, communal toilets and showers, food, clothing, counseling, and protection for themselves and their pets. Instead, our war vets and unhoused moms and children have zip.
If they were America’s indigenous people, as Indians at least they could have a reservation with self-government. Bad as many Indians have it, at least they have a sanctuary, which is an upgrade to the pathetic existence of the homeless, who live in constant peril on LA’s sidewalks. No one seems to believe that Indigenous people, who may have drug and alcohol abuse issues, aren’t “entitled” to sanctuary and decency.
Many (most?) people believe that almost all the homeless are druggies or drunks. So, in their minds, that seems to disqualify them from deserving any compassion and decent care. However, as long as it isn’t everyone, it seems that we need to seek out anyone who wants help and get them some. Why shouldn’t we prioritize helping those experiencing substance abuse?
Unfortunately, I don’t see any elected officials proposing any innovative solutions toward getting the masses off city sidewalks and into sanctuary shelters. So, should we all just shrug our shoulders and admit there will never be a solution. Surprise, I think there really is a reasonable solution. Years ago, I dreamed it up independently of an LA City Councilman who actually introduced it, only to have it die unceremoniously before ever being brought to a Council vote. In an upcoming edition of CityWatchLA, I’ll show you my idea and you can chime in. However, even if you like the plan, don’t hold your breath because I’m proposing this all on my own with zero help. Only if I get the ear of someone on Mayor Bass’ staff, does this have a chance….unfortunately.
(Ken Ross is a former Burbank dentist and UCLA Dental School Associate Professor. He is Northridge East Neighborhood Council 2nd VP, staff writer for Valley News Group and a contributor to CityWatchLA.com.)