Los Angeles Police Department argues nonprofits are better than handouts on Skid Row

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Los Angeles City Councilmember Jan Perry and members of the Los Angeles Police Department met Thursday at the Midnight Mission Homeless Shelter to raise awareness about how to channel efforts and resources to better help the homeless community. Perry recommended that people who want to give should donate through reputable organizations, like the Midnight Mission, the Union Rescue Mission and the Los Angeles Mission, rather than dropping off supplies directly onto Skid Row.

“We’re encouraging people and groups who want to help the homeless to partner with local non-profits in Central City East to ensure that donations are distributed in a manner that is safe, healthy and that will have the greatest impact,” Perry sad.

Orlando Ward, the program director at the Midnight Mission, said essential supplies in homeless shelters like his are distributed to hundreds of people in the community. Ward said this helps more people than just the few that might receive food and clothing on the street in the form of a handout.

“Tossing commodities out of the back of a truck is okay for cattle but not for people,” Ward said. “This is not to say the community isn’t welcome, absolutely not. There is a better way to do it…without the unintended consequences that happen when you treat people with less than the dignity they deserve.”

LAPD Captain Todd Chamberlain said that some of those unintended consequences can lead to desperate community members fighting over the resources handed out to them or dropped off on the streets.

“When people come and open the back of their truck up and throw out some clothing and pass out some sandwiches, that’s good for the short term,” Chamberlain said. “But over the long term we find that there is a lot of trash and garbage…there’s crime from the people from in and around the area who want certain things, and once those people leave, there’s a kind of plight left behind in that.”

Chamberlain said those who volunteer their time or resources with non-profits like the Midnight Mission not only help those who are homeless in the short term, but they can help the homeless begin to live more fulfilling lives in supporting organizations that provide rehabilitation, medical and job training services.

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