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'How Many Homeless?'

August 01, 1985

I agree with Anna Kondratas (Editorial Pages, July 19), "How Many Homeless? The Numbers Game Is Ridiculous." Counting costs! Hundreds of studies have been conducted at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars. What is needed is to stop counting and get to work on creative long-term solutions for homelessness. As long as the government remains hostile to the homeless this will not happen.

Example: Los Angeles County says it "saves" $12 to $16 million a year by using the 60-day penalty.

The 60-day penalty is a punitive measure that is used against welfare recipients for any of a number of infractions. It results in the denial of a welfare grant for two months. On any given night 2,000 and 4,000 people will be homeless because of the 60-day penalty.

The mandate of our welfare system is to assist in the rehabilitation and the preservation of self-respect of the needy. The 60-day penalty is in no way consistent with these goals.

It was the recommendation of the County Grand Jury that due to the number of homeless, Los Angeles County be declared a disaster area. it was also the jury's recommendation that the 60-day penalty be discontinued.

The power to revoke the 60-day penalty rests with each of us. We must demand that the Board of Supervisors discontinue its use or we must accept responsibility for 2,000 to 4,000 people being homeless each night.

MARY BRENT WEHRLI

Los Angeles

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