Thomas Oatway | Piggybacking on Homeless Piece

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

I believe that I agree with almost all of the Gary Horton opinion piece on homelessness (Oct. 27). However, he missed some key points and potential solutions that could be helpful. 

He is correct: There are three obvious elements of the homeless population. These are the unfortunate low-income souls, the mentally ill and the drug abusers. They all need individual attention. But the other factor that he did not mention is the inexhaustible supply of new homeless who come to California for the nice weather, generous social services and freedom from drug law enforcement. 

When I was young and growing up in Florida, there was an impressively large mental institution in the next community. The mentally unstable were housed, fed and treated there. The facility closed when a well-minded group like the ACLU argued that such institutions unfairly infringed on individual liberty. The mental patients were released to society. Today they are part of the homeless population. This affordable and effective institution was not located in an expensive real estate market like downtown Los Angeles. It could be located anywhere that is within reach of the staff needed to support it. I see a lot of open land in L.A. County that would serve this purpose.

Another issue is how to treat the drug abusers. This is a law enforcement and treatment problem that is not being confronted due to liberal philosophy and costs. It needs attention. And again, a jail does not have to be located in a high-cost real estate market.

The low-income homeless, many down on their luck, can be helped by an effective social safety net. Once back on their feet, educated as required, and given assistance if needed, they can return to society and exit the streets.

For those who seek a nice warm climate to live on the streets, an effective law enforcement operation will discourage them from coming here in the first place. 

So, let the ACLU shed alligator tears in opposition, but let’s get started with building the mental institutions that were closed, building more jails as necessary, and providing the social safety net for those who can return to society without intervention. 

Thomas Oatway


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