NPR ran a story last week by Luke Burbank about the newly built Midnight Mission at 6th and San Pedro downtown. The $17 million dollar facility has been getting criticism from some homeless organizations and some conservatives. The homeless organizations think the money could be better spent on affordable housing while conservatives think the amenities (which include a gymnasium and a barber shop) are too much.
In the comments to one particular blog post, Justin Wisniewski of the Midnight Mission explains that the majority of Midnight Mission isn't government funded and that most of the amenities are a necessity for getting those who are homeless and want to re-enter society to succeed. The facility also seems to be in response to the renewed interest in downtown as a residential area and the desire of those moving in to have the homeless off the street. Affordable housing in a community with rising rents and increasingly upscale constituents doesn't seem like a solution that will be welcomed.
Meanwhile, few are complaining about the $15 million spent on the new police station in Mission Hills or the $26 million used to renovate the West Valley station or the nearly $1 billion dollars in construction being done throughout the city for new crime fighting facilities.
And they probably shouldn't be. Crime is as complicated a problem in Los Angeles as the homeless situation is. But, if we're going to spend a billion on fighting crime, can't we spare a few million for the destitute without griping about it?