Opinion

A Million Reasons Why Los Angeles Could End Homelessness

By | Feb 11, 2014

mediumWe are a land where it never rains. In all fairness, most of the time our temperate weather is pleasantly sunny, not a drought-stricken, desolate desert.

We are a land that worships cars. Those ultimate driving machines that give us the ability to cruise along beautiful coastlines while the rest of the country is digging out from under the snow.

We are a city filled with angels. At least, that is the definition of our name.

We are Los Angeles, California.

A city that includes 126,000 millionaires. Where the President helicopters in, blocking Westside traffic for hours, to host a million dollar fundraiser. In fact, political candidates from all parties regularly visit so they can shake down the city’s money trees.

Sadly, we are also the land with the most unsheltered people in the whole country. We have 58,000 people who have no homes, and two-thirds of those people are living on the streets.

Such irony. A city with 126,000 millionaires and 58,000 people without homes.

European luxury cars cruise by people sleeping under lean-tos. Many of these cars are worth more than the home that person on the street so desperately needs.

Luxury lofts are built in our city center, directly overlooking the hub of homelessness that most of the country refers to as Skid Row.

Such a paradox.

But, with twice as many millionaires as people experiencing homelessness, the solution is within our grasp.

Sure, those of us working to end homelessness beg the federal government for additional rental assistance vouchers. We knock on the doors of private foundations, hoping that they will commit more of the proceeds from their stock portfolios to help fund our programs.

We host meeting after meeting, discussing new ways to approach this old problem. We rally together to push for changes in policies and additions to public funding. Or, at the very least, we promote the coordination and streamlining of existing resources.

But the answer to homelessness in this angelic city is right in front of us. We simply need to assign two millionaires to each person experiencing homelessness, and we are done. We could call it the “Two-For-One” program.

They could pay for that person’s mental health care, the cost of rehab, and the supplies and resources needed to get a job. They could cover the security deposit on a new apartment, and contribute $1,000 per month to support the monthly cost of rent.

The two millionaires could split the costs in half, or alternate months of paying the rent. I know they are busy making money, or skiing in Aspen, or watching new films in Cannes, or whatever else millionaires are busy doing. Perhaps alternating the responsibility would fit into their lifestyles.

And with a “Two-For-One” solution, those of us working in homeless services and housing could simply shut down our operations.

Because homelessness would be solved.