Five steps to getting the homeless off of skid row

Although this is about LA, it could be said about all of the continuums that have not yet developed and implemented a Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness.

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By Gary Blasi, Michael Dear and Jennifer Wolch
GARY BLASI is a professor of law at UCLA Law School; MICHAEL DEAR is a professor of geography at USC; and JENNIFER WOLCH is a professor of geography and director of the USC Center for Sustainable Citi

December 31, 2006

SKID ROW disproportionately – and unfairly – cares for the region’s homeless because so many other communities in Los Angeles County have few or no services to help them. Currently, only 25 of 88 cities in the county spend money on housing and services for the homeless. Those communities that don’t contribute are, in effect, using skid row as their solution to homelessness.

The problem is that city and county policymakers are reality-resistant – they are unable or unwilling to face up to what needs to be done about skid row. They have settled instead on the “three Cs” to fight homelessness: “contain” it in skid row by adding and concentrating mission-based services around San Julian Park; “control” it through personal property seizures, arrests and incarceration, which is one reason why 50 additional police officers were deployed in the downtown area; and “cleanse” it by closing homeless encampments and altering land-use laws.

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