“Los Angeles County supervisors are poised to approve a program that will identify the 50 most vulnerable homeless people on downtown’s skid row and move them within 100 days into apartments with readily accessible support services.
“The county has struggled to address the vast homelessness problem. A year ago, supervisors approved an unprecedented $100-million homeless initiative, anchored by five regional assistance centers. But the program faltered after communities balked at the prospect of homeless people coming to their neighborhoods. The county quietly switched gears, deciding instead to fund private organizations and smaller efforts, such as a housing program for families on skid row.
“About one-third of the county’s roughly 70,000 homeless people are classified as chronically homeless — meaning they have lived on the streets for a year or more and have disabilities such as AIDS or mental illness.
“Many experts say placing the chronically homeless in permanent housing with social services nearby is more effective than providing them with temporary shelter and more effective than requiring them to get sober before finding them housing. The numbers back up that position: 85% of homeless people living in supportive housing stay off the streets, said Gary Blasi, a UCLA law professor who has studied homelessness.
“Outreach workers will take a visual inventory of the area over a two-week period to observe who sleeps there regularly. Officials will follow up in person, talking to as many people as possible to learn about their health, time spent on the streets and other factors to determine how vulnerable they are.
“The so-called vulnerability index will determine those most at risk of dying on skid row, and outreach workers will talk with them about moving voluntarily into supportive housing provided by the Skid Row Housing Trust, which is expected to be awarded the second contract Tuesday. The organization helps refurbish and provide housing to the homeless and other needy people.
“The 50 people identified will have caseworkers to help them and nearby support services, such as mental health and substance abuse counselors.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs of Greater Los Angeles will work with the street teams to identify veterans, who represent 12% of the county’s homeless population.
“The costs of shelter, emergency room care and incarceration can range from $40,000 to $150,000 per homeless person per year, said Blasi, the UCLA professor. Supportive housing for one individual costs between $14,000 and $25,000, he added.”
L.A. County might get new homeless program. Supervisors expected to approve Project 50, which aims to get skid row’s most vulnerable people into supportive housing. By Susannah Rosenblatt, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, November 19, 2007
Y’know, we can either take care of these people or we can just let them die on the streets of one of the richest cities in the world. I’d rather pay taxes to take care of them.