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Homelessness: New Solutions Are Needed

September 25, 2002

I applaud Sheriff Lee Baca's attempt to help homeless people ("Sheriff Leads Meeting of the Minds at 'Ground Zero' for Homelessness," Sept. 20). He is one of the few public officials who have time for this problem. I work for a church and have homeless people at my office door daily asking for food, clothes and shelter. We give what we can, but the problem is getting worse with the downturn in the economy. I am now seeing people who can barely pay their rent, asking for food, and people who lost their apartments and are living in their cars, needing assistance. These are the new homeless.

Perhaps a solution can be found in giving the money to the local churches and pantries and letting the churches set up transitional housing. The church will continue to feed these people and work with social workers on how to get them back into society. We have been doing it all along. I can guarantee you that very little money would go to administrative costs because the bulk of the work would be done by volunteers.

Maxine Flam

North Hollywood


"Leaders Who Look Away" (editorial, Sept. 19) suggests that a public official's commitment to the issue of homelessness should be based on his or her attendance at a single event. Though I would have liked to attend the homeless summit in its entirety, as chair of the City Council's housing committee I first joined Mayor James Hahn at the previously scheduled U.S. Conference of Mayors' forum on solutions to the nation's housing crisis before attending the downtown summit. That the city had multiple housing events on a single day should be cause for celebration.

Much of my career has been dedicated to addressing homelessness. As a policy advisor to Mayor Tom Bradley, I participated in the formation of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. As a senior official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, I served as deputy director of the Inter-Agency Council on Homelessness. As part of the Innovative Cities program, I helped bring Los Angeles $20 million in funding for homelessness programs.

Homelessness did not develop overnight, and it will not be solved in one day or one meeting. A real, lasting solution requires long-term commitment and the creative energies of the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Wendy Greuel

Los Angeles City Council

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