Adam Murray’s Op-Ed “Ordering L.A. to shelter homeless residents won’t solve crisis” [May 4, Opinion] is a deeply flawed approach to this humanitarian crisis.
First, many homeless camps are riddled with garbage, trash, stolen merchandise, food waste and needles. While cities should provide low-income housing as quickly as possible, it is immoral, indeed criminal, to allow people to remain in squalid conditions until sufficient permanent housing is available.
Second, Murray’s argument ignores completely responsible citizens’ right to enjoy their public spaces, especially parks, when they are overrun by sprawling tents. It is infuriating that people whose taxes support city government are asked to “tolerate” despicable conditions because permanent solutions are not yet available. Temporary shelters can provide counseling and employment services not available under a bridge.
Third, needles. They are everywhere: in our parks, green spaces, on downtown streets and on private property. Many of those who abuse substances refuse to “go inside” because they will not abandon their habits. Tolerating drug abuse among the homeless threatens urban civility and mirrors the willingness to sanction by obliviousness the metastasizing crisis itself.
With civility and compassion let us provide the homeless with decent temporary shelters that shield them from the obvious dangers of living outside.
Michael W. Shurgot, Seattle