The following was submitted to the Los Angeles Times on April 10, 2012 in response to Ann M. Simmons' "L.A. County gives some homeless convicts priority in housing," and has yet to be published.
The change in regulations governing County support for homeless people on probation and parole seeking low income supportive housing does not, as your coverage implies, provide an advantage to those who have committed crimes. Rather, it is a sound solution for the homeless capital of the nation. It will effectively reduce crime and taxpayer expenses in our region, while efficiently helping solve homelessness.
Los Angeles County was the only Housing Authority among the 20 largest in the country that banned homeless people on probation or parole from its program. Last week, the Supervisors took the important step of removing this restriction. There is still a 2-year criminal record check, and it excludes participants with the most serious offenses from the program.
The Home For Good Task Force joined 4 of 5 Supervisors to support this change because when we move people off our streets into safe, stable housing with supportive services, law enforcement, court and post-conviction supervision costs go down.
Ultimately, we have a choice: we can perpetuate our shameful distinction as the homeless capital of the nation, while wasting millions of taxpayer dollars sustaining their lives on the streets, or we can do something about it. We applaud our County Board for taking a giant step forward for the Los Angeles region.
Renee White Fraser, PhD
Co-Chairs, Home For Good Business Leaders Task Force
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