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President Reagan's Comments on Choices of the Homeless

December 31, 1988

President Reagan asked a question so many have pondered. If it is true that the homeless want to work, why don't they take advantage of the hundreds of help-wanted ads in the newspapers? Or signs in the windows of stores or restaurants? A priest connected with a homeless center here in Los Angeles replied that only 2% don't want to work. But the available jobs are mostly for white-collar workers.

I think he avoided a more realistic answer, as some of the homeless are former white-collar workers. More on target would be: "Who is going to give a job to an unshaven unwashed person dressed in tatters?"

If the majority of the homeless really want to work, I suggest a project to be called "Job Ready" to make them presentable to apply for a job--a vacant building in the downtown area that could be fitted with showers, sinks, mirrors, and racks for donated, used, but clean clothing and shoes. Razors, soap, combs, towels and a couple of washers and dryers. No food, no beds. Coupons could be given for bus transportation, rubber-stamped with the date it is to be used.

I see a few holes, such as a homeless man who wants a shower and clothes, but doesn't want a job. Without going into details here, I see how holes like this can be closed.

Bottom line: To help someone get a job accomplishes more than saving cost of continuing care of the homeless. It raises morale and restores dignity.

JOHN GUEDEL

Sherman Oaks

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