If we’ve learned anything in the past two weeks, it’s that Angelenos have limits.
Look no further than the fury in Koreatown over a proposed homeless shelter for proof.
If I had to guess, I would say the opposition to such a shelter isn’t to the people themselves — but to the nature of the solution, which is temporary. That’s the political equivalent of sweeping cookie crumbs under the rug when guests come over. Eventually you are going to lift the rug and get the crumbs off the floor, but you might also sweep another batch under there before the actual clean up.
From your guests’ perspective, everything looks great — even if it isn’t.
If you live in Koreatown, that’s how this move appears.
Nonetheless, there are some who question opposition to the shelter plan. They see it as a NIMBY reaction to a problem that affects all of Los Angeles. I don’t know about you, but if I owned a business in K-town and had a choose between supporting a plan that leaves homeless people on the street and one that places homeless people in a shelter, I’d choose the latter every time. Think about it, you know there are places you won’t go because the sidewalk is cluttered with makeshift canvas and fence-post abodes that are closer to the sort of conditions one might find in the third world.
That said, it is troubling that this is only a temporary solution and not something more permanent.
The model for such a program might be found in Las Vegas. In less than a year, city officials launched a pilot program with the unofficial goal of getting 1,000 people off the streets and into permanent housing. Where that didn’t work, the goal was reunification of the homeless with their family.
The final piece of the plan is the creation of an open air facility that will allow 350 homeless to sleep safely on mats, get hot meals and get a shower at least once a week. The facility will also offer dental and behavior-health appointments.
But, for the plan to work, community officials acknowledge they need the financial and emotional support of the community. Maybe it’s something we could try here?