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Dick Turpin

L. A. City Council Opens Heart, Space to Homeless

January 25, 1987|Dick Turpin

Some of the nation's homeless gave a new twist last week to the bromide that "everyone has to live some place"--especially in the winter. The homeless in several major cities forced their way into unoccupied government-owned homes to find shelter from the cold.

Here, our much maligned City Council, showing unexpected compassion, opened its ornate council chamber and other City Hall areas to provide temporary housing for the street people, setting aside concern for legal liability in the event of injuries.

Councilman Ernani Bernardi, a former big-band musician, managed to get in a few personal licks on the subject of liability insurance, citing the annual Street Scene--the downtown music festival supported by a $30,000 city-backed insurance policy.

Alluding to Skid Row--streets south of City Hall--he said the "real street scene is what happens every night in downtown . . . " and added, "That's the real street scene" here.

Granted, deinstitutionalized mental patients and those who choose to be homeless, as the Reagan Administration, Samuel R. Pierce Jr., secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates seem to agree, make up a large segment of all the street people.

But a six- or seven-block drive--better than a walk--southward from City Hall on Los Angeles or Main streets, will give you a quick, real and unpleasant picture of the open habitat of all the homeless.

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