Bill Boyarsky
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It's odd how things disappear into the City Hall abyss

It's odd how things disappear into the City Hall abyss.

That's true of many issues but one occurred to me while I was walking along Westwood Boulevard, toward Wilshire, early in the morning and observed some of the Westside's homeless rousing themselves for another day on the streets. Didn't I read that City Hall was going to do something about the homeless?

The city council has been talking about the 8,000 to 10,000 homeless in Skid Row, just part of Los Angeles County's 82,000 homeless men, women and children. The council's way of dealing with it was to turn the matter over to a committee to study and study and study some more.

Elsewhere in City Hall, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proposed spending $4.8 million he has scrounged from somewhere in the city budget to creat space in shelters for 373 homeless people. You can find that many homeless by walking a few blocks on Sixth Street in Skid Row any night.

The problem is too big for these small steps. Just read the columns on the homeless by Steve Lopez in the Times and you will understand that these are people with multiple afflictions, not the least of which is mental illness.

The city council committee has a name that gives the impression of thinking big, the Ad Hoc Committee on Homelessness. But right now it is thinking small, trying to find a way of chasing the homeless from Skid Row sidewalks to appease the local business people while hoping to avoid violating the law on arrests, which happens to protect homeless and homeowners alike. Skid Row is bad but it's just part of the problem.

The council members asked the voters for another term so they could finish their many projects. The voters granted their wish. The homeless is a project they should really focus on. Give that committee a staff of experts on homelessness. Let a member of the council adopt homelessness in all its frustrating complexity--not just Skid Row--as a cause. Then something positive may emerge from the City Hall abyss



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