In the April 18 article, "For L.A. homeless: a gym, movies, and hair salon," there are several misleading points that call for clarification. Midnight Mission, which recently moved to a new facility, is a privately funded 91-year-old social service agency, not a homeless shelter funded by the city of Los Angeles, as the article implied. We have the support of local government, but we neither seek nor receive operating funds from government sources for our core services.
Second, we are one of the largest drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers in the region providing shelter for men whose homeless condition was directly related to their problems with substance abuse. Our 280 beds are occupied by men who have taken the first positive step of addressing the underlying reasons for their homelessness.
Due to their addiction(s), many of the men would have difficulty maintaining "affordable housing" even if it were available to them. The therapies we offer, along with job training and placement and other supportive services, create the opportunity for people to permanently leave a life of dependency, despair, and homelessness.
Lastly, the opening of this facility was the culmination of a 12-year process, and the site was selected because it was what we could afford and because of its proximity to those we serve. There was never pressure from city or business officials to move from our original location.
Orland Ward, Director of Public Affairs
Midnight Mission Los Angeles
I'm stunned by the so-called homelessness experts who complain that financial resources should be spent on affordable housing instead of on inner-city missions that help people heal from the ravages of chronic homelessness.
I've worked in agencies that serve the needs of homeless people - including a three-year stint at a mission in Los Angeles - and I'm familiar with the layers and layers of issues that homeless people need to sort through before they're ready to successfully live on their own.
We're talking about people who are likely to be plagued with illiteracy, drug and/or alcohol abuse, poverty, broken relationships, insufficient work histories, low self-esteem, and sometimes criminal records.
The chronically homeless need a safe place to learn new life skills and a caring staff who can show them how to stop doing what doesn't work and begin doing what does work long enough so that it becomes a habit and a lifestyle. Giving homeless people affordable places to live and jobs so they can pay the rent before we've compassionately addressed the multitude of issues that created their homeless condition in the first place simply isn't the answer.
The article on the opening of the Midnight Mission failed to report that the Mission was opened completely debt free. A large portion of that money was raised from private donors like myself. At no time was there ever a discussion of "better ways" to spend the money for the mission.
The Mission fulfills a vital role in the community and people like me support it willingly. The Mission has an excellent track record in bringing people off the streets and into productive lives.
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