DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Elected officials sat face to face with the homeless who live on Skid Row, representatives from shelters and formerly unhoused individuals to listen and ask questions during a hearing held Friday in downtown Los Angeles.
The hearing on homelessness was organized by the group Housing is a Human Right.
The hearing board was made up of local representatives, including L.A. City Councilmembers Kevin de León and Mike Bonin, state Sen. Ben Allen, Santa Monica Mayor Sue Himmelrich and West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath.
In order to fully grasp the complex issue of homelessness, being experienced by over 60,000 in L.A. County, the hearing also included a portion on hunger and housing, as all the issues are connected. One overwhelming point made was not blaming those experiencing homelessness for creating it.
"It's a system that often says to people who have been newly diagnosed with say lung cancer, come back when you're stage 4. Well, if that's the response, chronic homelessness is going to increase, and if you're making people suffer and wait on the streets longer, they're inevitably going to experience more trauma," said Bonin, who represents Venice.
"It's going to be more expensive and more difficult to help them and we need to be intervening sooner," Bonin added.
"We need to bring our care, our resources, and our expertise to people wherever they are," Horvath said. "When people are met with those resources, it's amazing what sort of transformational opportunities can happen, but we have to reach them.
"We can't expect people who are struggling already to find their way through what can often be an unintelligible system."