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Helping Out the Homeless

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Yesterday the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved additional steps for Project 50, a three year pilot program that will help get some of the most vulnerable people living on skid row into permanent housing.

Volunteers completed hundreds of early-morning interviews to identify the 50 people who were in the most trouble -- people living on the streets with chronic illnesses, like liver disease and AIDS, many of whom are also mentally ill. Now a team that includes social workers, mental health professionals and a Veteran's advocate will set out to find those 50 and move them into permanent housing with support services. If the program proves effective, the Mayor's office hopes it could be scaled up to help many more.

The LA Times reports: "Program supporters say the effort could save taxpayers millions of dollars currently spent on homeless people who turn up at shelters, jails or emergency rooms."

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Of course, there's something else going on here. The program is being coordinated, in part, by Common Ground, an NY-based nonprofit which, the paper reports, "launched a similar, largely successful effort to house homeless people living in Times Square." That's about making NY pretty for tourists, right?

It's hard not to think that stacks of pretty downtown condos -- and their affluent residents -- are what it took to get LA officials to begin paying attention to the nearly 500 "residents" of skid row.

photo by adamina from the LAist Featured Photos Pool