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TNSOLS in Tinseltown Show Need to Help Homeless

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The National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty chose Los Angeles as the No. 1 "meanest" city toward its homeless. According to a UCLA study, the city spent $6 million to crack down on crime in the Skid Row area, but only $5.7 million for homeless services. The cost of writing warrants and tickets for jaywalking, loitering and drug abuse against the homeless could have paid for supportive housing for 225 people. Hollywood stars should lobby for a change in attitude and legislation toward their neighbors.

Actress Rebecca Gayheart started the Chrysalis Butterfly Ball, which raises funds to help Los Angeles' homeless find jobs. This year, the sixth annual ball brought together hundreds of stars, from actress Mila Kunis to "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane. It's an important step in the right direction, but homelessness deserves more than an annual ball.

The cost of having so many Americans mired in poverty is far greater than the cost of helping them take care of themselves. The public cost for one person in supportive housing is $605 a month, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. They report that a homeless person costs the public $2,897 a month, nearly five times more than one who is housed. Emergency services, mental health and police costs increase exponentially when someone is homeless. In a city with more than 80,000 homeless on any given night, it's a costly proposition.

Hollywood stars, government and taxpayers should take note. Even beyond the humanity, it's far more cost-effective to house our homeless than to leave them on our streets.

Robert Weiner was a White House public affairs director and spokesman for the U.S. House Government Operations Committee. Jonathan Battaglia is a policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and a student at the University of South Carolina.

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Robert Weiner, NATIONAL PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND ISSUES STRATEGIST Bob Weiner, a national issues and public affairs strategist, has been spokesman for and directed the public affairs offices of White House Drug Czar and Four Star General Barry (more...)
 
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