Palisades News Letters: Task Force Weighs In

(Editor’s note: The News received several calls and letters regarding the June 21 editorial, “Homeless Mentally Ill Need Dedicated Help”). 

Thank you for your June 21 editorial, which brought an important issue to the community’s attention. The Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness (PPTFH) strongly agrees that it’s time to address the challenges related to service-resistant homeless people.

These individuals are, paradoxically, both the most in need of assistance and the most difficult to help. In addition to the resistance from mentally ill homeless people themselves, Los Angeles is currently under injunctions, and the law prohibits legal action being taken unless extraordinary circumstances can be proven beyond a doubt.

Despite these barriers, PPTFH has made our service-resistant and chronically homeless people a top priority, and is taking concrete steps to help. Our goal is not to simply remove or jail the mentally ill person, but instead to provide adequate and sustainable assistance to make meaningful change in their lives.

Even with these resources, getting help for a single, service-resistant, mentally ill person is a significant undertaking that requires the investment of many months and the proactive coordination of law enforcement, The People Concern and social service agencies. In the 18 months since we started, 44 percent of the homeless we’ve engaged are now off the streets.

Many were service-resistant at first, but there are significant successes. Last May, PPTFH was finally able to help a young woman with severe mental-health problems return to her home in Norway. This required months of research, concentrated effort and cooperation among over a dozen individuals and agencies, and—importantly— a loving family that was willing to assume responsibility for their daughter.

What can you do to help homeless people who are service-resistant and/or have mental health issues? There are people in the community who, with the best of heart and intentions, provide food, money and other short-term support to some of our most service-resistant individuals. This “enables” the homeless indi- vidual to sustain their life on the street, which makes it more difficult for our professional team to offer them the services they really need.

It is heartbreaking to us to see service-resistant homeless people deteriorating. A first step would be for people who are providing handouts to stop, and consider instead working with PPTFH and The People Concern to support the homeless people they want to help. Giving handouts can actually be a barrier to truly helping the service-resistant homeless person.

If you see a homeless person in need of help, please call PPTFH at (310) 460-2630. You can also contribute to PPTFH, which spends $125,000 per year funding a full-time outreach team dedicated to the Palisades. (Visit: pptfh.org) Finally, attend PPTFH community forums to get informed and involved. Email PacPaliHTF@gmail.com to sign up for the mailing list and to receive meeting notices.

We can’t expect these problems to disappear overnight. Determination and patience are required, given the complexity of the issue and the legal/fiscal constraints. But we can continue to care about protecting our community and its most vulnerable people and be a positive, innovative part of the solution.

Doug McCormick, President
On behalf of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *