Civic groups launch plan to end chronic homelessness in 5 years

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A man arrives at the Los Angeles Mission and Anne Douglas Center's Thanksgiving meal for the homeless in Downtown Los Angeles on Nov. 24, 2010.

The idea of ending chronic homelessness in L.A. County may seem like a fantasy of good intentions. On Wednesday, a broad group of L.A. civic, business, faith and community leaders gathered at the California Science Center in Exposition park to announce a plan to do just that — in five years. They dub the effort, "Home for Good."

Renee Frasier co-wrote the United Way report that indicates the cost of temporary shelter and meal programs for homeless Angelenos is far greater than that of getting them off the street and into permanent homes.

“We do intend to end chronic homelessness in Los Angeles. It is doable. It’s been done in other areas. We know it can be done in our county,” she says.

Frasier also says that placing people in permanent housing with support services saves tens of millions of dollars in policing and hospitalizing people who would otherwise live on the street.

Much of L.A. County’s plan to make these changes relies on federal housing vouchers and other subsidies as Washington lawmakers plan to tighten the federal purse strings.

At the press conference announcing plans to fight homelessness in L.A. County, some local officials criticized Congress for taking steps that could make the problem drastically worse.

L.A. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl says unemployment benefits are a key economic stimulus and a key protection against further homelessness. And he says Congress should not let the benefits expire for the long term unemployed.

“You cannot do that. You put more people on the street. That is direct stimulus money for those 2,000,000 people who get $315 bucks a week,” says Rosendahl. “We better not create more homelessness which is what that could conceivably do. So tell you congressman and your president please for gods sake continue it.”

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