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Get the Homeless Into Shelter Beds

November 25, 2002

"Crackdown Demanded on Skid Row Camps" (Nov. 19) states that some agencies that provide services to the homeless denounced our plan, saying that "it was merely another attempt to sweep the streets of homeless people who have nowhere else to go." In fact, our plan specifically calls for an anti-street encampment ordinance in conjunction with providing a shelter bed for every person removed from an encampment.

Another so-called homeless advocate stated that "most addicts and mentally ill are not service-resistant," they just don't want to abide by the rules at shelters. This is exactly the problem we are attempting to rectify -- a city policy that allows individuals to refuse to go to a shelter when beds are available because they don't like the "rules" that prevent them from abusing drugs or alcohol. We believe that the city should stop enabling self-destructive behavior and, instead, help people get the services that they need and deserve.

Diana Warren

Vice President

Public Policy

Central City Assn., L.A.

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I have been commuting downtown for more than nine years, the past year by train. I have seen firsthand the homeless problem become a "public health and safety catastrophe." And it's not just on skid row.

Walking the short distance from the train station to my office building, I have held my breath to avoid the acrid smell of urine that permeates this place and averted my eyes from the sight of human feces piled on the sidewalk. Walking back from lunch, I've witnessed a man urinating against the side of a building and reported it to a public safety officer, who responded with a shoulder shrug and not much more. I've feared for my safety when a panhandler, who was displeased that he did not get any money, followed me down the street shouting obscenities.

Enough is enough. I applaud the Central City Assn.'s efforts to take back the streets. I encourage City Council members Jan Perry and Tom LaBonge to stay the course. And I welcome Police Chief William Bratton and hope that he can accomplish here what he was able to do in New York City.

Linda Mueller

Valencia

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