Is housing a solution to the homeless problem in LA?

- Homeless advocates praise the city of LA for waging a war against homelessness. But many worry if the fix doesn’t include massive services for mental illness and drug abuse, there could be terrible unintended consequences.

On the streets of Skid Row, thousands of people have been homeless for years, and some say they wouldn’t know what to do if they suddenly had a home.

Monet is a woman who's been homeless since 2011. She says, "I’ve been in houses, but I have problems, so I come back out and stay here." At first glance, nothing seems wrong. Then suddenly those problems she talks about are evident when I ask her, "How old are you?" She responds, "Nine, I should be 16 but I’m 9."

Mental illness and drug abuse are two of the leading causes of homelessness. At the midnight mission, CEO Mike Arnold says, they try to offer a bridge toward self sufficiency, "There’s a big conversation about how can we humanely help people who don’t seem to be able to help themselves." 

There are more than 47,000 people homeless in LA County. The City of LA plans to spend $138 million dollars on housing and services for the homeless. But homeless advocates say there is a lot of work to be done before putting chronically homeless people into housing.

Joey Weinert from the Midnight Mission says, "A lot of people we consider unshelter-able. They don’t have the life skills that it would take to be able to maintain a living situation. They’ve been living on the streets 20 years."  Arnold is hoping for a positive outcome but as he looks around, he remembers that there was once a great plan to save the growing homeless population and it turned into Skid Row. 

"What we have in Skid Row is another example of a failed public policy where we were going to contain people in this area and then highly populated it with services and housing and it hasn’t solved anything other than create one of the largest homeless congregations in the United States.

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