To the Editor: What Trump should learn from L.A.: Homelessness is a healthcare problem

Originally published in the Los Angeles Times on Saturday, September 14, 2019


To the editor: I appreciated the visit that Rear Adm. Susan Orsega from U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps paid to Venice Family Clinic on on Tuesday to learn more about healthcare for people experiencing homelessness. (“Surprise! Trump wants to help L.A.’s homeless by cracking down on them,” editorial, Sept. 11)

Healthcare is sometimes overlooked in discussions about this issue. Those of us who provide care to people experiencing homelessness see that Los Angeles is in the midst of a healthcare crisis. The lifespan for people experiencing homelessness is about half as long as those with homes, and they are dying at a rate of nearly three a day.

Healthcare is an essential part of any solution. Providers such as ours practice “street medicine” by delivering care where people experiencing homeless live. They help outreach workers make a connection, and they provide the medical support, including medications for mental illness, that help make it possible to get people to accept an offer of shelter and ensure they succeed there.

We certainly hope that funding, legislation and better public policies will be the next steps after these visits by Trump administration officials to Los Angeles.

Elizabeth Benson Forer, Venice

The writer is chief executive of the Venice Family Clinic.