- Feb 11, 2010
Not surprising, really. The mental wards are closed, and, the mentally ill homeless are, well, homeless. Now, people are complaining because they are being fed.LOS ANGELES They began showing up at dusk last week, wandering the streets, slumped in wheelchairs and sitting on sidewalks, paper plates perched on their knees. By 6:30 p.m., more than 100 homeless people had lined up at a barren corner in Hollywood, drawn by free meals handed out from the back of a truck every night by volunteers.
But these days, 27 years after the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition began feeding people in a county that has one of the worst homeless problems in the nation, the charity is under fire, a flashpoint in the national debate over the homeless and the programs that serve them.
Facing an uproar from homeowners, two members of the Los Angeles City Council have called for the city to follow the lead of dozens of other communities and ban the feeding of homeless people in public spaces.
If you give out free food on the street with no other services to deal with the collateral damage, you get hundreds of people beginning to squat, said Alexander Polinsky, an actor who lives two blocks from the bread line. They are living in my bushes and they are living in my next door neighbors crawl spaces. We have a neighborhood which now seems like a mental ward.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/us/as-homeless-line-up-for-food-los-angeles-weighs-restrictions.html?src=me&ref=generalThey are helping human beings, said Debra Morris, seated in a wheelchair as she ate the evenings offering of pasta with tomato sauce. I can barely pay my own rent.
There are now about 53,800 homeless people in Los Angeles County, according to the 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development last week, a 27 percent increase over last year. Only New York had a higher homeless population.
The problem is particularly severe here because of the temperate climate that makes it easier to live outdoors, cuts in federal spending on the homeless, and a court-ordered effort by California to shrink its prison population, said Mike Arnold, the executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, an agency created by the city and county in 1993.
Somebody remind me how we got here. Oh nevermind.