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Plight of the Homeless

November 01, 1987

The article by Jacki King was both embarrassing and frightening--embarrassing in that this situation can still occur in this country and frightening that it could well happen to any of us at any time.

Despite the great affluence of this great city, nearly 10%, or more than 34,000 of the nation's homeless, are in Los Angeles. And a population that has historically been assumed to be made up of the addicted and the mentally ill is now comprised of children, young adults, veterans and senior citizens. In fact, entire families make up 28% of the homeless in this country. In 1960, the median age of those without shelter was 54. Today it is 34. The numbers--and the tragedy they represent--continue to grow.

We continue to assume that the homeless are confined to Skid Row, yet they reach out to us from nearly every bus bench and street corner in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Every day the situation seems to get closer to home. Running into an old friend recently who is now homeless made the point painfully clear.

Jacki King found, as did thousands of her counterparts, "how difficult it is to get back into the mainstream society once you fall outside its boundaries." And it continues to get more difficult with each passing day.

I hope that more people will respond more completely and more meaningfully to that element of our society that is so on the edge, so near yet so far, realizing that they may well be our neighbors, our friends, and that there but for the grace of God go we. We can change this situation--individually, and also by demanding government support on all levels, we must break this vicious cycle of homelessness.

WOODY McBREAIRTY

West Hollywood

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