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'Crime Sweep' of Homeless

March 05, 1987

I read your article (Feb. 20) on homelessness in Los Angeles, "Mayor Takes Credit for Crackdown on L.A.'s Skid Row Camps," with dismay. What's needed is to restore basic human dignity to the individuals who had banded together in temporary camp-like shelters. I doubt that these people actually want to sleep in the streets. A study by the U.S. Conference of Mayors has concluded that the number of homeless people has grown by 25% in 1986 and that the largest increase was in families with children. The breakdown of homeless individuals are 30% families, 30% veterans, and 25% mentally ill.

Is this any way of life for children, veterans or those who are mentally disabled? At the federal level, funds for housing programs have decreased by 70% since 1986--from $30 billion to under $10 billion.

The homeless in Los Angeles do not need to be "raided"; they need adequate and affordable housing--the chance to restore their dignity--the opportunity to do more than just fight for their survival in life. Have you ever considered how hard it must be just to get an keep a job when you are homeless--too cold to sleep, not able to shower in the morning or put on pressed, clean clothing.

I appreciate that the amassing of homeless is an embarrassment to the mayor, a fearsome annoyance to businesses, and a matter of support and survival for the homeless themselves. Raids on the encampments will not alleviate the problem. The homeless are people. People with problems. We need to acknowledge those problems and work to resolve them in a way that restores the individuals self-esteem and dignity.

LINDA S.M. LINDQUIST

Lake Forest

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