Los Angeles remains the nation's homelessness capital, with almost 48,000 people living around the county on streets, in cars and in shelters, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority. About a fourth of them are chronically homeless, burdened in many cases by physical and mental ailments that make it hard for them to reintegrate into society.
The magnitude and intractability of the problem haven't stopped policymakers and homeless advocates from offering plan after plan for improving the situation, but none has made much of a dent in the homeless population. On Tuesday, yet another group will weigh in: the Business Leaders Task Force on Homelessness, a project organized by the local branches of the Chamber of Commerce and the United Way. There is much to recommend in the plan and we wish the group well. But unless the task force draws the unflinching support of government, service providers and volunteer groups, its plan will probably suffer the same fate as the many that came before it.
The task force's goal is to end homelessness in the county, not just manage it. To do so, it proposes a rapid increase in permanent supportive housing over five years. Such housing, which offers ready access to treatment, training and counseling, would be provided for all of the county's chronically homeless and homeless veterans.