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Why not hire homeless youths? 

I was, frankly, surprised to learn that the young adults referred to as “unaccompanied minors” (also known as “travelers”) are not able to even avail themselves of the free meals at outreach services (“Children deserve more from us,” April 16).

The forces that have brought them to the streets of America, as Zaf Iqbal has noted, are myriad: broken homes, drug abuse, etc. They (or others in their lives) may have made some poor choices, but they certainly should not become a “discarded” generation. I am not sure that the analogy is apt that they are likely to receive less than what abandoned domestic animals are getting at well-funded shelters (like Woods), but there you have it.

I have worked with the homeless in several ways over the course of my adult life. I was a socialization counselor through a grant provided by the LA County Department of Mental Health, served on the board of local Hopes Village, and wrote a “cheap” alternative housing manual once reviewed in New Times ( I once almost became homeless myself. And, yes, I believe in housing first—for most.

If these “travelers” seem respectful enough to want to earn some money, I suggest citizens initially hire them for small jobs to help them gain experience and a reference. You just have to ask.


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