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The Faces Behind The Statistics

April 03, 1988

In response to Marilyn O'Neill's comments in "The L.A. Women," I would like to thank her for illustrating an unjust and ignorant oversimplification of the homeless issue. Statements like, "Why can't they go out and find a job?" do not address the problem. Perhaps "they" are mentally ill, chemically dependent or chemically imbalanced. Perhaps "they" lack education, self-confidence or self-esteem. Some of "them" have been abused or neglected. Some have been thrown out of their homes at very young ages.

Often the only difference between a homeless person and myself is that I received a paycheck this month. That is all that it takes--missing one paycheck, to be unable to pay rent--to become one of "them." It is so important to realize that homelessness cannot be reduced to "laziness." The issue of homelessness is a very complex issue that demands more than our criticism; the issue cries out for society's care and attention. I get irritated when educated people like O'Neill pass judgment on any underprivileged group, like the homeless.

One would think that having gone through such a struggle for survival, she would feel compassion.

JILL EVENSON

Santa Ana

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