Homeless, addicted, pregnant – and stranded by the city of LA

For the editor: I lived in Los Angeles for 40 years and have never seen homelessness as bad as it is today. I go from compassion and sympathy to anger and disgust at the situation. (“Best of Hollywood”, July 13)

America is a rich country, but it’s also a place where it’s easy to become poor, homeless, and invisible. In this capitalist society, we look away from these people. This is a difficult cultural barrier to overcome.

I used to regularly donate money to the homeless, but a few years ago I stopped. I recently gave a guy $20, but otherwise I’m like most people in this town: I’m sick of seeing them and their stuff and their behavior.

What to do though? The issues that have caused this crisis are many and rooted in actions and policies of the past. We have passed mandatory measures for more housing and services, but the amount of support people without homes need is staggering. Every person has so many problems, and just reading this story demonstrated just how much help Mckenzie needed, especially as a mother.

Los Angeles is failing. Like many other people, I’m ready to go. I’ve watched it fall under inept management for years now.

I really appreciate this report. Bravo for the excellent work.

Tania Nordstrom, Chatsworth

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For the editor: No one person’s story can represent all facets of homelessness, but your three-year reporting on Mckenzie Trahan painfully highlights many gaps in Los Angeles’ social support system. As a service provider, we often encounter people after all other safety nets have failed.

Service types are subject to often changing political winds and funding opportunities. Mckenzie’s poignant story is also a story about the intergenerational impacts of poverty and society’s rejection of those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

This in-depth story amplifies a voice that is almost always missing from conversations about homelessness: someone with lived experience. These stories stick with me and I remember how hard our team members work to help our participants as best we can.

It is crucial to remember that more can always be done and that we need to invest more in support services, not less.

Jennifer Hark-Dietz, Los Angeles

The author is Managing Director of People Assisting The Homeless.

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For the editor: Journalist Gale Holland’s moving story about Mckenzie Trahan, a homeless young woman who struggled with years of homelessness, shows the human cost of our region’s complicated, uncoordinated and unaccountable response to the crisis.

It often falls to homeless people to navigate a complicated maze of well-meaning programs, sometimes working in opposition and rarely as one system. Mckenzie sees it so clearly.

Homeless people need our help, our compassion and our love. I fear that if we are not honest about how we have failed people like Mckenzie, we will not come any closer to ending homelessness, especially for the most vulnerable.

Miguel Santana, Los Angeles

The writer is president and CEO of the Weingart Foundation and served as chief administrative officer for the city of Los Angeles.

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For the editor: I am amazed at the patience and endurance it took for Mckenzie to get as far as she did in the homeless legal and outreach systems. For those housed, just spending the day dealing with credit card companies, banks, IRS, schools, utilities, etc. requires great endurance.

Now imagine if we had to deal with that kind of pressure with no home or public transit available to us.

At no point in your article was it mentioned that Mckenzie had been offered any type of mentorship. One-on-one mentoring is the only way to help people like her who have never had stability in their lives or had the opportunity to learn how to take care of themselves.

We all suffer from the LA rot, but some more than others.

Paula Del, Los Angeles

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