Author: Samantha

Letter to the Editor: A proposal to give homeless people a voucher

Letter to the Editor: A proposal to give homeless people a voucher

Letters to the Editor: Is Rick Caruso’s ‘short-term’ homelessness plan what L.A. needs?

Los Angeles Times

Monday, August 19, 2013

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of letters responding to a piece written by Rick Caruso, a Los Angeles County Councilman, about the county’s homeless problems and a possible way of dealing with it.

First-time letters, we’ve seen better. Second-time letters, we’re learning.

I am writing to ask a question about a plan by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to give each of the county’s 500,000 plus homeless people a voucher to spend at any of nearly 1,100 homeless businesses. The voucher would work like this: the business owner would receive a check with a check mark beside their name and the owner would write a receipt for the homeless client. The business could then use the money for any purchases the homeless person or their family required.

I have taken this issue up before the County Board of Supervisors, which has received a lot of input on this concept, and has made clear its intent to get a voucher program approved, as described in a letter to the editor by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, here and here.

Now, I will not be surprised if this plan is passed by the board. But I do have a concern.

L.A. County has a homeless population of roughly 10,000 people, with more than 40,000 more looking for permanent shelter. If this plan is in place, we would essentially be giving homeless people a license to shop at homeless businesses. How is that supposed to help the homeless?

I was at a talk last week where the city’s chief homeless official spoke about the possibility of creating a permanent shelter for L.A. County’s homeless population.

He said that a permanent solution would involve the construction of a huge, five-hundred-thousand-square-foot building.

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