HOMELESSNESS IN LOS ANGELES
In 1985-1986 I prepared meals for the homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles. We would prepare the food early on Saturday mornings in a church basement in Sherman Oaks and then take them downtown. For over a year, every Saturday we set up the tables, chatted with the people and handed out food, clothes and sundries. Most of the homeless were in line each week and we got to know them.
Now there are at least 65,000 and they say as soon as 100 people are taken off the street 150 more take their place. The homeless people of our city today live in their own filth, lower their heads as we walk by and too often, die alone. We who have homes and have jobs are inured, now, of their presence, frustrated with our leaders or traumatized by and angry at ourselves for hoping the sludge we're walking through will not track into our homes or a filthy needle will not puncture the soles of our shoes. Money is not the problem. Measure HHH, Federal funds, abundant property and sales taxes and innumerable non-profits provide more than enough financing. The problem is millions of dollars are going to committees, and planning sessions instead of mental health facilities, recovery outreach and education, or housing. As a real estate broker I know there are motels and apartment houses ready to be purchased immediately and are affordable. Now, I read Los Angeles is going to create another board to ask the input from people in the community! They will get back to us in May. Clearly, what is lacking is a leader to step up and say this is a public health hazard a crime on humanity, a scourge on the City of Los Angeles and a corrupt waste of taxpayers' money. It is time to start using the perfectly good resources we have and start helping these people.
The iconic Los Angeles County Los Angeles "General Hospital" of the soap opera fame, was once the beacon on the hill for all kinds of medical services. It was decommissioned years ago and replaced with a new County Hospital a stone's throw away. My brother, Dr. Ken Wright and I have a plan to utilize 20,000 square feet of the 1.3 million square feet to provide immediate temporary housing for the homeless. This beautiful facility would be the first stop of a treatment plan that would be specific to each person. Upon arrival, they would take showers, be shown their rooms, dress in fresh clothing and immediately have a comprehensive medical test with lab tests. Now that we have determined that in addition to typhus and hepatitis, there is bubonic plague, leprosy and cholera.
The plan my brother, Dr. Kenneth Wright, Candidate for CA 33 has developed for long-term care Village is called the Township Option which he presented on Dr. Drew's radio show last month. Combined with my Mobile Triage Unit which literally goes on site to register participants in the program and drives them to General Hospital. General Hospital is the key element we need to to satisfy the 9th Circuit Court restrictions providing instant bridge housing, medical attention, whole-person assessment and administrative support.. The re-purposing of General Hospital will transform this City and be a model for San Francisco, New York and other metropolises nationwide.
We will utilize local rehabilitation and recovery homes for those with substance abuse problems and seek financial reimbursement from Medical and Medicaid. Insurance specialists and Social Security administrators will aid in determining if there are benefits owed or unused. Wrap around programs will follow the program registrants and determine how we can best help them to be successful. People who just need direction, a job or a roof over their head would be placed in housing from Section 8 designated homes and apartments to motels and hotels and other existing vacant buildings that LA can obtain immediately and at the fraction of the cost of building new.
There is a Solution.