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One woman's fight against foreclosure; helping L.A. chronic homeless population; our community college system

August 09, 2010

Foreclosure battle

Re "Fighting her parents' foreclosure in court," Aug. 5

It's not often that something truly inspirational appears in the news these days, but the dedication and abilities of Zeenat Ali — the former medical student who has singlehandedly fought Deutsche Bank to save her parents' Diamond Bar home from foreclosure — have restored an exhilaration not felt in years.

Brava, Zee! The law may not necessarily be on your (moral) side, but you'll always inspire us by doing what is right.

Anthony Pereslete

Culver City

The Times runs another in the Mortgage Meltdown series of articles, and the theme is familiar: "Courageous underdog homeowner fights merciless dishonest megabank."

These stories make passable human-interest reading, especially if the protagonist is an immigrant and the villain is a foreign bank.

But once the human-interest element is stripped away, the stories in this series have a common, if less sympathetic, underlying theme: "Homeowners assume huge financial risk by overleveraging their home because (fill in the reason), and lose everything when the bet goes bad."

If our government decides to bail these people out with Americans' tax dollars, maybe The Times can do a new series with this theme: "Prudent middle-class homeowners honoring their mortgage contracts must now sell their homes to pay new taxes."

Rick Reeves

Santa Barbara

The price of homelessness

Re "Antonovich objects to skid row Project 50," Aug. 4

Thank goodness there is one supervisor who can see the emperor has no clothes.

Mike Antonovich's concerns over Project 50 should be echoed by every taxpayer in this state. The idea of taking my money and trying to persuade the 50 most disabled people in our society to take it is appalling. This misguided crusade seems to be more about meeting the emotional needs of aid workers than actually helping people. Would these people suggest spending all of our education dollars on the 50 kids who are abusing the system the most at the expense of other kids who are trying?

If you want to make a difference, start with the people who want help. They will use it. Even better, let me keep my money and I will choose the people I want to help. Project 50 is just the kind of ridiculous program that makes people despise paying taxes.

Matt Duggan

Long Beach

It is easy to get distracted by side issues and forget the most important thing about permanent supportive housing and Project 50 — it has been the single most successful and cost-effective strategy to end chronic homelessness in the history of Los Angeles.

Project 50 picked the homeless people who had had the least success under all the conventional interventions. After two years, 84% are permanently housed and receiving services. And to top it off, Project 50 costs the county less than leaving people on the street. Recent cost studies in L.A. show that when left on the street, people who are chronically homeless cost the county more than $8,000 a month in emergency health, policing and other services. When placed in permanent supportive housing, the county saves more than $5,700 a month a person.

The most expensive homelessness strategy is leaving people on the street. The most humane and cost-effective strategy is permanent supportive housing.

Greg Spiegel

Los Angeles

The writer is director of public policy and communications, Inner City Law Center.

It's not easy for college students

Re "Navigating the college maze," Editorial, Aug. 2

Bills by legislators Alex Padilla (D- Pacoima) and Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) are indeed a positive step toward a simpler, more cost-effective college transfer system. However, more could be done. The century-old community college mandate allowing for unlimited access should be modified.

Many students entering community colleges made ill-planned or last-minute decisions to start college, and arrive with insufficient high school preparation. Both the UC and CSU systems have minimum high school course requirements. It is long past time for a statewide minimum for community college entrance.

Scaled down from the four-year institutions' requirements and phased in, such a list could include one each of college prep English, pre-algebra and a general science course. Of course, existing high school graduates would be exempt. Such a system would save students, community colleges and taxpayers time and money.

William F. King

Upland

Your editorial on community colleges was a reasonable and helpful suggestion to help kids make it through college.

For 30 years as a public high school teacher in L.A., I told my students that California had a great community college system and that they could persevere and earn a four-year degree even if they couldn't afford a university at first.

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