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Facts Disputed on Santa Monica AIDS Project

July 29, 1993

One would expect a rocket scientist and a certified public accountant to get their facts straight before they single out the Santa Monica AIDS Project for criticism.

Jan Ludwinski and Kip Dellinger's research failure resulted in inaccuracies in their July 8 letter. The total budget for the Santa Monica AIDS Project is approximately $135,000, not $65,000 as stated. The city of Santa Monica's contribution to our budget is based on a city formula reflecting the number of Santa Monica residents served by our project.

Our project director was selected by a panel of health care and AIDS experts and religious leaders appointed by the Westside Ecumenical Conference, and has never held any leadership role in Santa Monicans for Renters Rights. Her salary is set by the Westside Ecumenical Conference, which has a salary scale and personnel policies applying equally to employees of all the projects under its umbrella.

As AIDS activists, we worked hard to get the city to recognize the need for services to Santa Monica residents with AIDS, and for a comprehensive AIDS prevention program accessible in our area. Ludwinski and Dellinger have the right to disagree with the need for our project, but they owe it to the public to check their facts before throwing stones.

LAURIE NEWMAN

Santa Monica

Newman is president of the Santa Monica AIDS Project Advisory Board.

Santa Monica

*

The merchants claim to be altruists when they direct charity away from the homeless to homeless agencies, but in presuming that people without housing are not competent to spend money on themselves, they deny the humanity of homeless people and give license to one scurrilous lie after another: that the homeless are drug addicts, that the homeless are alcoholics, that the homeless are scam artists, that the homeless are secretly rich, $100-a-night beggars.

All these lies mean to blame the sufferers of poverty for their suffering, and to place upon the poor the responsibility that rests squarely upon an economic system that is throwing millions of people out of work, and upon a government that is slashing social programs as fast as it can spend more money on cops and prisons.

Once and for all, the homeless are human beings. They deserve to be treated with respect, and not to be degraded by paternalistic schemes to get them out of sight and out of mind.

DAVID WHAY

Los Angeles

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The two anti-panhandling campaigns on the Santa Monica Promenade can never succeed, because they were born of the self-serving interests of real estate developers and the business community and are all the worse for using the pretense of helping the homeless.

I am a merchant on the Third Street Promenade, and I believe business people must protect their interests, but not by scapegoating a near-helpless sector of our community or by arrogantly directing the charitable impulses of the local shoppers. The campaigns assault the humanity of the homeless and insult the intelligence of all of us because they proceed from the false premise that the homeless somehow have a choice as to how they survive.

Short-term solutions for homelessness--food lines, shelters, service agencies, etc.--are essential because people must survive day by day. But they have not and they cannot solve the problem. Homelessness has increased 13% in L.A. County this year alone!

The government and corporate charities have spent years and millions on the problem while watching it grow. They have failed! The solution to the problem of homelessness is obvious: homes and jobs. The resources exist. We've all seen billions of dollars become instantly available for failed S&Ls or for the bombing of other people's countries. The road to the solution is far more complex, but is most certainly attainable. We must take it. Thousands of us must become involved in our communities on a daily basis, getting to know who the homeless are and what they need, joining with them to form groups in churches, clubs, neighborhoods, and working together to create concrete long-term solutions in each of our communities. For example, there are 80,000 vacant publicly owned housing units in L.A. County. We must demand them as a human right for every person who needs one.

MARGIE GHIZ

Santa Monica

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