Category Archives: homeless vets

Housewarming for Al

Housewarming! 

For Al !!

Al Jordan, our homeless veteran friend moved into veteran’s transitional housing on April 1, 2008.  He is still excited.   Pat Shankle of Georgia Home Staging with the help of husband Scott and friends staged his new apartment.  That means she selected the furnishings from the warehouse of MUST Ministries, added other stuff such as pictures, decorations, pillows, kitchen and dining room stuff and then professionally decorated the entire apartment – living room, bedroom, kitchen and dining room.   Pat does this for a living, normally staging houses for sale in order to make them more attractive, leading to quicker sale.   She also staged a home for our last Habitat homeowner, Joi.  Pat has said she is negotiating with MUST to stage a number of additional apartments as part of her homeless ministry.  Admire her work in the following pictures.

Als Apartment entry

Entry to Al’s new apartment.

Some of Als friends from our church gave him a housewarming dinner last night (April 3).   It was a great event for Al and his new housemate, Danny.  

Danny, Pat, Al

Danny McDaniel, Pat Shankle, Al Jordan

The food was catered by our Wednesday night dinner food experts.  It was GREAT eating.

Shrimp!  Chicken was also avialable

Shrimp!  Bacon and green beans.  Chicken was also available.  Desert consisted of ice cream with hot fudge.

Here are a few pictures of Als apartment taken while he gave us the grand tour:

Als Bedroom

Als Bedroom

Car tag

Prized car tag in window! for when he can afford a car.  Link to Macland Presbyterian

Bedroom

Another view of Al’s bedroom. 

Kitchen

Kitchen.  The fridge is opposite the stove.  Yes that is a coffee grinder in the far left corner and bags of Starbucks (gifts) on the shelf.

Dining room

Dining nook and lighting

Now to the gifts and people.  Al’s guests came with gifts ranging from DVD players to $50 gift cards and more than a few misty moments as Al opened them and read the cards.   Here are a few photos:

Ladies and Al

As ususal, all the ladies sat on one side of the room and the gents on the other.  And yes, Al is working with a hankie at the moment.

Cross

Admiring the Cross

Al with Pastor Ray Jones III

Our Pastor, Ray Jones III with Al. 

Towels

More gifts, in this case towels and other bathroom supplies

Scott Shankle

Pat’s husband Scott.

Jeff Staka

Jeff Straka.   You may remember him from our meeting with the Police Chief in an earlier blog.

I think we were all as pleased as Jeff appears to be in this photo with the outcome of our first venture into the homeless world.    Al and Danny seemed pleased too.   Although there are not many pictures of Danny here, he was not left out of the festivities and joined in our meal and prayers as well as shared in the joy of the moment for Al.

Danny and Al seem to be very comfortable house mates and will get along well together.  Danny, also a veteran in the program, has a car and has offered to drive Al to our Wednesday night dinner and to Church.  Looks like we have made a new friend there as well.  Danny’s is a different story where he once was married to the daughter of one of the biggest landowners in this area and now struggling to climb out of homelessness.

We also met a bear of a man, Jon who came in to check the refrigerator.  He is also a veteran, lives on the property and maintains/repairs anything that needs fixing.  This is a 20 unit complex entirely devoted to transitional housing for homeless veterans.   With two men to a unit, 40 veterans are served.  Jon said he is enrolled in the STEP program.   Nether Danny nor Al are enrolled in treatment programs, though they are required to find and keep jobs and eventually work their way out of the housing.

Part of the challange is this:  The entire complex is surrounded by woods habitated by other homeless men, somewhat envious of their neighbors.   The area is a high crime area including drugs.   Part of Jon’s job is to keep the area clear of anyone not residents of the complex.   It seems to be working.  I found the complex clean and nicely kept. 

I was well pleased with the housing situation.   This complex is funded by HUD and run by MUST ministries with grants from HUD.   Something just feels right about this situation.

Slide Show

Here is a slideshow with includes all of the pictures taken by me at the dinner, 47 in all.  Enjoy

Oldtimer

Good News – Ask the right question!

Ask the right question. 

 Al was frustrated.  We were frustrated, even his case manager at MUST was frustrated.  The new transitional housing program was due to start April 1 but to get in, Al needed to prove his eligibility and he needed his DD-14.  The deadline was just a few days away.   It was already March 26.   He had his application in for months.  He had his request for his DD-14 copy in for months.  Nothing was happening.  His case manager had even faxed in a copy of the application papers.   No response.   It looked pretty bleak as nothing was happening at the VA.

No DD-14 on the way and no good reason why.  I don’t know the details other than this:  Al said he had been conferencing with his case manager on Wednesday and they were both lamenting that nothing seemed to be working.  Then Al happened to mention that he has a birthday coming up in a few months and he “needed to get his VA drivers license renewed”.   Just a simple off-the-wall comment to pass the time.

The case manager said something like:  “WHAT did you just say?!!!… You have a VA drivers license?… Let me see it!”  “This is all you need for proof… you are in!”.

It turns out that no one had asked the right question.  

You don’t get a veterans driver’s license without a DD-14  and it requires a certificate of eligibility from the VA to get the licence.  The existence of the driver’s license was all that has been needed all along.  Now Al is going into transitional housing on April 1.  It was an alert case manager that finally saved the day.  It would have been easy to not notice the remark.  None of us trying to help him knew.  No one at the VA asked whether he had a veterans driver’s license.   Al didn’t know it would suffice.   Only the alert case manager caught the significance.   Thank you Michael Laird of MUST ministries.  

Al once had his separation papers and has since lost them.  That happens to homeless veterans a lot.    He qualified for his veteran’s drivers license some time ago and has maintained it current.    

So much trouble and so much delay for lack of the right question.  So if any of you veterans are having trouble getting a copy of your separation papers and you have a veterans drivers license, pull it out!   You may have a shortcut!

We have something special planned for Al, but don’t go hinting, as it is a surprise.

Oldtimer

PS:  This is what the GA DMV says:

Veterans

Veterans receive a free license until they reach the age of 65. Then they must renew their licenses every five years and are required to pass a vision test each renewal period.

You’ll need to provide a copy of your separation papers, showing your honorable discharge, to your county’s Department of Veterans Service to receive your certificate of eligibility. Present this certificate to your local driver’s license office to receive your free license.”

  

Good News, Good News!

Good News Today

There was particularly good news to report today.    Our homeless friends Al J. and Steve W. have both been assigned a place to live, but we are not talking just a shelter here!  They are excited, I mean really excited.  So is the group at our church that has been working with them so very long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Al, surprised by the flash.

Al is a homeless veteran.  He had been living in the woods for quite some time.  When our small group first met him he was resistant to the idea of moving out of the woods.   He was heavily bearded with wild long hair and looked pretty ragged.   “I like it here,” he said.    Of course, it was not true.  Later he admitted that he was resigned to living in the woods and never expected to get out.   “I like it here” was just a way of coping.

That was before several families in our Church began to develop real relationships with the homeless they were feeding breakfast to on Sunday mornings.    By relationships, I mean friendships, and true bonds.   This extended beyond just providing food and supplies, beyond inviting them to Church, Sunday School and Wednesday night dinners.   It included true friendships and love for fellow man. 

When Al complained that “I smell,” and said he was uncomfortable in church looking like a tramp, Scott and Pat took him to their home where he showered and put on newly cleaned clothes.   Scott then took him to his son’s hair salon where he was treated like royalty and given a full shampoo, shave and haircut to the astonishment of other customers.    How do you want your hair today, Sir?  Does that look ok, Sir?   

Al looked like and felt like a new man.  Transformed, ready at last to come out of the woods, ready to not be homeless any more.    Somehow he has managed to maintain his neat appearnce despite continuous living in the deep woods.   The homeless ministry team followed through and helped Al get his VA papers.  He said he did not even know he was elgible for help through the VA.   The ministry team managed to get him signed up for the new veteran’s transitional housing program at MUST.   The papers, however, were a long time coming.  Far too long.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two pictures of Steve.

 

 

 

Steve turns out to be an energetic worker, jack of all trades, experienced in all sorts of construction work.  I know.  He has worked for several families in our church and for me.  

I found that he is an excellent carpenter and never slows down.   When he runs out of a job, he picks up a broom or rake, or starts the next phase.   He is also very dependable and has an excellent outlook on life.   I found out that he is experienced in renovation of old houses and had once owned a house just two blocks from the one my wife grew up in.  He gave it up to his wife and began a long downward spiral from there to homelessness. 

When we first met Steve, he lived in a tarp in a pine thicket between two buildings.  After the police raids in the area and Dominic froze to death, he applied to MUST Ministries for entry into their resident’s progam and was eventually accepted.   He said he “did not want to end up like Dominic”.   Steve is the one in the video talking about Dominic that I posted a few weeks ago.    He and Al have attended Sunday School, Church services and Wednesday night dinners almost every week.  That is a bible he is carrying in the left picture above.

Members of our church sponsored Steve and Al to a family church retreat over a recent weekend.  Al said it was the “most fun I’ve had since I was a child”.  Steve said it was a “wonderful experience”.

 Well, the good news came from both of them today.  Al has been accepted into a veteran’s transitional housing program and Steve into a supportive housing program.  Both through MUST Ministries.    Both start April 1.    Our homeless ministry team is planning to have a dinner for them in celebration.  It will be quite a celebration and with many thanks to God for His Grace.

It has turned out to be a great day.  God is good!  

 

 

 

 

Pictures of Homeless Friends

Some of our homeless friends, most of whom have been mentioned in  previous posts, agreed to have their pictures posted in this space.   It was a great leap for Mark, who had come out to have breakfast with Scott and Carolyn this morning.   Someone had woke him up and he was a bit annoyed about “being bossed around” but ate ravenously of the food offered.  Every time he finished something, Scott was shoving another bowl or cup of coffee into his hand. Eggs, grits, muffins, coffee.  

Mark turns out to be a very good conversationalist once he gets to know you, but a lot of things turn out to be “a long story” that he won’t go into.  Mark is still a little nervous and has not given me permission to share anything but general information, but we talked for almost two hours.   If he had not been pushed into getting breakfast with us, “important people might have come by and taken him home”, but he really was ravenous.  He was a bit afraid he would miss them.   He doesn’t like people telling him what to do, has a couple of “angels” from the Church of God that regularly visit him trying to get him to seek help.   Mark said he has been homeless maybe 1 or 2 years.  I don’t really think he knows.

He says the police have made him move three times in the past week.  They’ve taken his stuff but left him behind, or when he was out of stuff, simply told him to go somewhere else.   So he moves around, but always nearby.   Some of the other homeless affectionately call him “Moses” but they all help look after him.  Mark wears a short ponytail in his beard and says he another in the back, but he did not show it.

Mark does not understand why those that don’t bother anybody can’t just be left alone, but he claims Scott as a friend who has “known me a long time,” and seems to be coming out of his shell with the extra attention.

Below are some pictures.  There were other homeless there, but some don’t want to be pictured.  One said he didn’t want his family to know.  “I’m not supposed to be here” meaning homeless.  They think he is working somewhere else, I believe. 

Scott            Steve              Guy             Mark              Steve W.

Scott provided the food and shirts (hanging on fence).  The gentleman on the far right is the same Steve that was featured in the video in my last post, “Marietta Homeless Steve Talks about Mark,”  the same Mark standing next to him.   Everything Mark is wearing is recently donated. 

Guy has been homeless only 3 weeks.   I liked him immediately.   Actually I liked them all immediately!   The sign says “This walkway is provided by Cobb EMC for access to the MUST/Urban Action Facilities.  (Travel at own risk)”  The sidewalk is not on the road right-of-way, but the homeless get rousted out anyway.

I was asked by Steve (with the cup) to thank Cobb EMC for the use of the paved walkway and for the access they have granted.  He recognizes the public service Cobb EMC has done here.   Steve has a 2 year and a 4 year education in N.C. and often gives legal advice.  He is writing a “coffee table” book and has written several letters to the local news editor, none published.

Major

Major was in the earlier video also, but was seen only briefly. The bible in his pocket goes wherever he goes.

Guy with Elizabeth

Both are homeless.  Elizabeth was named after Elizabeth Inn.  Mark calls her his cat, but in truth, I think she is loved by all the homeless in the area.

 

Al, our Poet

Al is a homeless veteran, still waiting for his papers, but they are in route.  The donated cap is Navy, but he was actually Army.   This picture was taken last week at our church.

Oldtimer

 

A Host of Friends by a Homeless Friend

A Poem by a Homeless Friend 

You have heard of me speaking of “Al”, one of our homeless friends, a veteran and a fine man, one of those evicted by Marietta on the eve of the coldest night of the year.  Held at gunpoint while receiving the eviction notice.  Despite the donated hat, he is an army veteran and loves his country.   Al turns out to be quite a poet.  He wrote one for our  missional team. 

Al Jorden, A homeless friend
Al Jordan, our homeless friend

“A HOST OF FRIENDS”

Friends are like an undying breed of loving hearts and caring needs
Hope of giving and sharing things
that only faith in each other brings
A friend is there night and day
to help chase your doubts away
So in my heart I know God is with me till the end.
So that is why I have a Host of Friends. — Al
 

Our fight for the homeless, some stories

This is a long post, and  in it I will tell some interesting stories about the homeless we’ve met and love as friends.  But I need to say something up front about our city leaders.  In my last post I listed the names and email addresses of City officials.  The intent was not to harass these individuals, but to express only our outrage at the actions of a City That Doesn’t Care, or to express support if that is your desire, over the death of Dominic.

All of these City Council men and women, the City Manager, and the Mayor are good and honorable people and should be treated with dignity for the office they hold and as caring people.  Keep in mind that Mayor Dunaway has no voting power except in a tie, even though he wields enormous power in other ways within the city, as any mayor does.

Our fight is with the collective body that  makes up the whole, the Council and leadership of a city that would not listen to the cries that warned them that great harm and deaths would occur if they sent these people away from their homes in the dead of winter.  Some of our homeless did die, frozen to death.  The city leaders read our request beforehand and the Mayor phoned me that they would go forward with their evictions even though snow and freezing temperatures was forcast.  Representatives of the city attended a meeting at a local shelter and said the same thing.  And Dominic is dead, and it appears there are others.

So express outrage yes, but call them names, no, threats, no.   Express your own feelings either way on the subject, but stay calm.   It is the city itself to blame, not the individuals who might have raised a voice but was voted down or failed to raise a voice when it would have meant something, perhaps not realizing the impact on the lives of hundreds of people, perhaps thinking the warning of possible harm or death was an overstatement when it was not.      

Having said that, let me give you a few little stories on some of these men and women that we have learned how to be friends with.  Now here is a disclaimer: I am a member of this church we call Macland Presbyterian, an elder, now on  the session and a 3 year member of the Mission team.   But I don’t have any first hand, hands-on experience with the particular homeless we are talking about other than meeting them as they came to our church and sitting down to talk with them.  Whenever I say “we” I mean our team that has been working with them.

Missional team

Several families doing missional outreach have been doing all the cooking, serving, bible study and outreach for our church.  They have paid for food out of their own pockets, taken winter clothing and other things for the homeless, brought them back to church and taken them to restaurants, had coffee and broken bread with them, brought them to Church in their own cars, stored their belongings when displaced, done bible study with them.   I’ve only supplied a little support here and there.  They have been doing the work.  I’m relating what they have told me about our friends.

Having said that too, let me tell you something about what I know from Pat and Scott and Jeff, and Jason about their encounters with the friends they have been serving.  I just want you to know that this is not first hand knowledge, but it has struck my heart and I will be much more closely involved from now on.  I know some of these names are not the real names.  But the stories are real, the men are real, the hardships and problems they illustrate are real.

Perry and his gold coin offering

One of these men, a homeless veteran is Perry.  Perry has been described by Pat as “having an entourage of people swirling around him in his head always talking to him.”   Perry came to our church among the first two to accept our invitation to visit.  Pat and Scott picked him up.  During one sermon our Pastor  was talking about the woman who gave all she had, a penny, and what a wonderful thing that was. 

Perry got up in the middle of the sermon and started for the pulpit.  Scott caught up with him and asked what his intentions were.  “I’m going to make an offering”.  “But wait, there is a time for that later”, said Scott.  “But I want to give now!”  So Perry took his Chucky Cheese gold token to the alter and placed it on the corner of the choir railing, and returned to his seat just beaming!  Grinning from ear to ear.  Gave all he had, real gold to him.

I don’t know what happened to Perry when the evictions came.   I think that he had dissappeared.  We know of one death, Dominic, and we know that there is likely more – I learned today that the medical examiner sent a homeless person to a funeral home near our church who was apparently found in the same lot we were serving, but Dominic had been found somewhere else.

Mark and his mound of dirt, compassion among the homeless 

There is another victim that we have recently identified as Mark.   Mark was first found by our little missional team some weeks ago.   Mark was laying behind a large mound of dirt, flat on the ground with piles of donated clothing, blankets, tarps and other stuff on each side of him.  Much of it donated by other homeless in the camps.  

Mark clearly wanted to die but somehow was not successful.  He was on the ground with his thin shirt unbuttoned, no jacket, no shoes, no covering and was unresponsive.  Our group called 911 and an emergency van showed up, prodded his foot, asked him a couple of questions, determined he was alive and that he did not want to go with them.  The crew left with these words:  “We can’t make someone go that doesn’t want to go.” 

Other homeless were bringing Mark sack lunches and most of the time the lunches were just left there uneaten the next day.  He would take neigther food nor drink from us.   He was never seen to move from that spot by any of our team over a period of weeks, and he never changed clothes.   We have since learned that Mark survived the cold, but this past week, our homeless friend Steve told us that the police and others came back Wednesday of last week and took his bedding, blankes and other things.   See my video where Steve talks about Mark, how he became homeless and why he was staying right where he was.    He was not aware he was being subjected to eviction.  He would not have been responsive to the police or anyone that approached him.  He was unable.  (Updated on February 2, 2008 to insert new information).

The aloof man and his broken trust

There is another I’ll call “Aloof” who showed up when they first started feeding breakfast.  We noticed a man standing like a statue with his back to the breakfast line about a block away.   Although invited, he did not move while we were there.  The following week, he had turned around and was facing the other men and women enjoying a breakfast feast, but still did not approach, still a block away.    (Since MUST feeds a lunch to the unsheltered homeless 5 days a week, our team chose to go on Sunday mornings to fill in).

The   third week he moved half way to the chow line.  The fourth, half way again, always standing like a post during the entire time our team was on site.  The fifth he had moved up to where he was just outside the line but could see the food clearly. 

Finally he began joining the line.  We had gained his trust.   Then the city came the next week and destroyed the little life support that he had.  His hidden camp taken away and all trust dragged to the dump in a garbage truck with his belongings.

Some of the others 

Then there are Steve and Don who lived under a nearby bridge.  And a different Al than ours that had a girlfriend.   And “our” Al who is indeed a veteran who has been working almost from the beginning to get his life back in order to get off the streets.

What I’m trying to say is that although our Al and Steve and Dave/Don have been mentioned in earlier posts a number of times, this story is not just about them, nor is it just about veterans, nor is it any way about us! 

What this all about 

It is about a city leadership that never took the time to learn that these are real, actual human beings in their care who have issues to be sure, but most are honest, decent citizens that have fallen on the hard times that, but for the grace of God, go I.  It is about a city that paints all homeless men in one brush.  If one did a crime, then paint them all guilty.  They are faceless, nameless, scum to be run out of the city.  They are trash to be swept away.

It is about a City That Doesn’t Care that decided that, with the homeless count coming up that they just did not want the world to know that they did not have a place to put them.  The goal was to run them out of town to reduce the numbers, achieve a goal of homeless reduction.  The goal was to let the secretary that saw what looked like a homeless man down the block know that the city was protecting her.   To let the business man that had a female worker nervous because she saw a homeless man standing under a bridge on the way to her office know that she would not have to look the other way any more – he would be gone.   To let the voters know the city was removing all the homeless because 1 or 2 were thought to be part of a crime wave in another part of the city.  To let the voters know that all laws will be strictly enforced – unless it was convenient to look the other way.  But for homeless, strictly enforced.

It is about a city that chose to evict the homeless from the only home they have had for years on the eave of the two coldest nights of the year – driven out in fear, leaving even their glasses, shoes, sleeping bags and tents behind to be thrown into garbage trucks by a City That Doesn’t Care.   A city that supplies no support services other than law enforcement.  A city that relies on the county morgue to front the $400 to pay for the burial of victims of their lack of concern for the welfare of another human being.

It is about human dignity when down and out.  About trust when trust is vital but not allowed.  About compassion, love and hope in a world that seems to have none. 

It is about our Lord who told us to serve our neighbor, who said in the parable of the sheep and goats:

Matthew 25:44-46   44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’   45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

What did Paul say about the Apostles? 

1 Corinthians 4:11  To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.

I wonder how many angels were present among the homeless to test us?  Who is marked as a sheep and whom a goat?  Who among us will our Lord not know?

 Oldtimer

Meet the Mayor and Council of the City That Doesn’t Care

Mayor and Council of Marietta Georgia 

City That Doesn’t Care

Mayor Dunaway is the one in the red tie.  He is one of the good ol’ boys of the community.

Left to Right in top picture with email addresses at popular request:

Holly Marie Walquist – Ward 3  hwalquist@mariettaga.gov

Irvan Alan Pearlberg – Ward 4  ipearlberg@mariettaga.gov

Rev. Anthony Coleman – Ward 5 acoleman@mariettaga.gov

Mayor Bill Dunaway  BDunaway@mariettaga.gov

Griffin Chalfant – Ward 2 gchalfant@mariettaga.gov

Annette Lewis – Ward 1 alewis@mariettaga.gov

Jim King – Ward 6 jimking@mariettaga.gov

Philip M. Goldstein-Ward 7 pgoldstein@mariettaga.gov

Ward 1 includes the site featured in the AJC article today “Marietta police clear out homeless” written by Yolanda Rodriguez  There you can find a gallery of pictures.

Ward 5 includes the site featured in most of my articles. It includes the area our homeless veteran friend Al and the recently deceased Dominic lived.

Oldtimer

Clinic Wins Legal Victories for the Homeless

Clinic Wins Legal Victories for the Homeless

Oldtimer’s comment.   It appears to me the City of Marietta is on shakey ground. St. Louis was fined $80,000 for merely forcing the homeless off the streets during holiday celebrations and other times without probable cause.   I know that in addition to the city’s forceful eviction of an entire population from the city that is going on today in The City That Doesn’t Care, they also did a systematic sweep around the city before and during the Christmas season so that tourists and merry makers could use the square without encountering the homeless.

You can find the rest of this story here for the inital story in 2004 when the lawsuit was filed  and here for the present story announcing the win.

Update: Federal Lawsuit Settlement Reached – On October 12, 2005, the School of Law’s Civil Justice Clinic settled a federal lawsuit it brought on behalf of homeless men and women in St. Louis. Continue reading

When Laws Should not be Enforced

Oldtimer’s comment, added on the 25th:  I warned the Mayor on the 21st, he called me on the 22d, I posted this article on the 23d,  and today I found out that Dominic, a homeless friend was found frozen to death huddled behind a local business on the 22d.  It means the Mayor likely already knew about the death when he said NO! to the moritorium and delay until warmer weather.  Now read the whole story and my warnings.  I predict we will find homeless people dead in various hiding places until spring.  Our Mayor and his Council are directly responsible for not heeding the numerous warnings from the community!  They cut up their tents, put their sleeping bags and clothing in garbage trucks and sent them into 19 degree weather to die.  The remainder is from Jan 23, 2008:

The Mayor of the City That Doesn’t Care (aka Marietta, Georgia) called me yesterday.  Make no mistake our Mayor does care and cares deeply!  We had a long and good discussion and he gave me full permission to report what he has said and he said all the right things.   He is sympathetic to the problem and supportive of our mission to help the homeless, including those that are being evicted from the meager existence they call home, whether cardboard box, blue tarp, or simply a sleeping bag under a bush.

He expressed appreciation for what we and and our mission team are doing and called it “good ministry”.  

The gist of it all, however, is that the unhoused homeless people have to be out by Wednesday (today) and there will be no exceptions and no delays due to the weather.  

He assured me that the city does not have any access to helicopters and no money to rent one if we did.  That a helicopter was going to be used to hunt down the homeless was just a rumor that developed among the homeless after a meeting of a police commander with the nearby MUST ministries.  MUST has been hosting some 75 residents and feeding the unhoused a meal each weekday.   (The homeless were not invited to the meeting, but thought they were.)  The city also met with the “Mad Housers” which is a group of saints that build simple structures for the homeless.  The city is graciously allowing the Mad Housers to leave the structures in place until they have time to move them. 

Essentially the Mayor said that all homeless camping in Marietta will be sent packing and if they don’t go they will be immediately arrested.  

It was my understanding that all homeless camped on private property that have the permission of the property owner can stay, but the health department will be called to determine if there are suitable sanitary facilities, and whether the campsite is safely habitable.  If not, they will be ordered out and arrested if they refuse the order.  

He suggested that some private property owners might allow them to camp, but the health department will be required to check out the property.   The Mayor seems sympathetic but admitted he has had to call the police in the past about his own property (warehouse nearby) due to homeless camping behind it resulting in concern and complaints from female staff entering and leaving the building. 

How it started:   The Mayor said that the problem started with a series of burglaries that were traced to a homeless person.  They had his picture and went to all the camps to find him, but he had absconded, already left town for parts unknown. 

However the camps on right of ways and on public and private property which they found in the heat of the hunt are illegal and the City can’t NOT enforce the law, and now that the police know where they are, they must be removed, period, no matter the consequences.  End of story.

OK, herein lies a problem for my sensibilities. 

If a law that must be enforced  will bring about, or is likely to bring about. or may bring about serious harm or death of an individual, should that law not be swiftly amended or not enforced when those situations arise? Continue reading

Marietta and Cobb County short 690 beds for Homeless

I’ve pulled out my copy of the 2006 Continium of Care (CoC) for Cobb County, Georgia’s grant application to HUD.   It has a lot of tables and columns and at one point I put some of them in here, but then I remembered I have a lot of readers that could care less about that.  

So I’ll summarize here:  According to this application, our local governments, our cities and counties provide only one service for the homeless –

Law Enforcement, listed in the category of “outreach”.  

Ok that explains it.  Homeless arrests and Evictions are an “outreach”.   Our local governments provide no preventive services and no supportive services for our homeless.  Our non-profit local charities provide plenty of services but they are not enough!  

There are a total of 124 year-around emergency shelter beds among all our shelters.  Plus another 48 “Seasonal” and another 18 “Overflow” beds.  There were no beds “under development”.   The application says that we are 330 emergency shelter beds short!   This is based on finding 330 unsheltered homeless persons during the point in time count.  That isn’t nearly all of them though!

There are another 316 beds that are “transitional housing”. (6 under development)   We are 275 transitional housing beds short!

There are 44 perminent supportive housing beds.  (none under development)  We are 85 beds short.

So Marietta:  Where do you think our homeless friend Al is going to stay tomorrow night?  How about the other 300 homeless people out there? The total of 690 needing help?   The ones with “unmet needs” beds (virtual beds?) Where are they going?   Who among our leaders care?  

There were 175 individuals in families with children unsheltered on January 26, 2006!

Children!!!!

And Marietta simply says “clean them out”.   Take the veterans too.  They might be carrying a flag.

“Go South” you said.   We already ship our poor sick to Grady.  Are we to haul our homeless to Atlanta too?

Oldtimer.

Marietta Georgia – No compassion for homeless – NONE

The City of Marietta is evicting homeless from within our city limits.  Al, our homeless veteran friend that our church is trying its best to help reports that he and his friends, which are mostly homeless veterans, have been given notice to move “south”, meaning out of Marietta and toward Atlanta.

We have been helping Al and some of his friends in numerous ways.  Pat (see an earlier story on Pat here and her husband Scott and a few others in our church have been serving breakfast Sunday Mornings and later bringing some to our church for bible study and services, often treating them to lunch afterward.  Scott put Al in a hotel during the cold snap and the group has been taking supplies and clothing to them. 

Al has been faithful in attending, and as a result has taken to the idea that he can get out of this.  He no longer looks homeless, is neat, trimmed and dressed in his best clothes.  However, despite the information, forms, trips to the VA, Al still has not received his papers or his VA card.  He is still homeless.  He has said he has now committed to getting off the streets but has no place to go.

Above is one of the homeless camps being evicted by the City of Marietta.  This is an old photo taken from the air, but it also the site of Als current camp.   Believe it or not, this was found by use of the Hit and Visitor Map to the right of this blog.  It has zoom and several modes, including hybrid (satellite and road labeling), airborne, and “bird’s eye”.  I used the hybrid mode in zoom to find the general area, then switched to bird’s eye and quickly found his camp and 2 other camps.   Try it in your area (bird’s eye is not available in all areas, mostly metropolitan areas around large cities like Atlanta).  Look for blue tarps in mostly wooded areas.  Let me know if you find any. 

Now comes the City of Marietta.  They have systematically attacked the homeless camps within their city and have now worked their way to Als camp.  They did give them a little prior notice.  They were told that they are trespassing (wooded right of way of city) have to be packed up and moved out by Monday.  

Guess What?  Its snowing in Georgia.  The ground is covered.  A few will accept winter shelter but the beds are full.   They are totally dependent on MUST ministries a few blocks from their camp for food which MUST serves once a day on weekdays.   Nothing on weekends.

Moving means a miles long treck instead of a block or so walk.   The plan is obvious, make the homeless either seek shelter or get out.  Unfortunatly there are not enough beds to go around.  Not nearly enough.  So the plan is equally obvious – get out of our city

The city should provide facilities for these homeless before making them move.  They don’t.  They depend on MUST Ministries and a few other shelters that they have forced into industrial zones and have for the most part squelched expansion of facilities.  

Our city has decided to take the cheaper route – run them out of our city before they cost us money!  It also has another up side for the city:  Next year the homeless count will show another “remarkable” drop and no one will have to cook the books by redefining the homeless or unfinding any.  

Al works when he can find a job.  He doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs, has no noticeable mental problems.  He is a true walking hero with no place to go and our VA is not doing its duty.  Nor the VFW, nor our heartless City of Marietta.   He has fallen through the cracks and it makes me want to cry.

MUST Ministries, a block away from Al, serves Al a noon meal every week day. and  recently announced receiving grant money to set up transitional housing for veterans.   I’m sure they are hearing of the problem, but its been most of a week now since I left a message there for the program manager and sent a email inquiring about the program.  No response to the email and no returned call, and I know the guy, so he must be “out of pocket”.    MUST does do a wonderful job of helping feed and house the homeless and works tirelessly to serve them. 

Another mission, New Hope Missions reports that they are being swamped with homeless in the same desperate condition as Al.  New Hope serves about 125 breakfast and conducts services on Sunday and about half come from the area being evicted.  Some of them have to be out Wednesday.  Al has to be out Monday.

This is how not to minister to the homeless 

City of Marietta GA:  Shame!

Oldtimer

Surge Seen in Number of Homeless Veterans

Surge Seen in Number of Homeless Veterans

 Oldtimer’s Comment:  I’ve seen a number of these types of articles.   Although the estimates vary depending on the subject area from 400 to about 1500, the word on the street is that the returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are showing up in shelters much faster than in previous wars.  The problem stems from higher rates of PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury) which still take too long to diagnose, and which are resulting from the combined effect of IED’s and higher survival rates.    The VA has long under diagnosed these problems and only recently, after much heat, begun to actively pursue it. 

Photo by Jeff Swensen for The New York Times
Frederick Johnson, a veteran of the Iraq war, lives in temporary housing provided by the V.A. after spending a year on the streets.

By ERIK ECKHOLM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 – More than 400 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have turned up homeless, and the Veterans Affairs Department and aid groups say they are bracing for a new surge in homeless veterans in the years ahead.

 

Photo by Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times
Joe Williams lives in a homeless shelter in Washington.

Experts who work with veterans say it often takes several years after leaving military service for veterans’ accumulating problems to push them into the streets. But some aid workers say the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans appear to be turning up sooner than the Vietnam veterans did.

“We’re beginning to see, across the country, the first trickle of this generation of warriors in homeless shelters,” said Phil Landis, chairman of Veterans Village of San Diego, a residence and counseling center. “But we anticipate that it’s going to be a tsunami.”

With more women serving in combat zones, the current wars are already resulting in a higher share of homeless women as well. They have an added risk factor: roughly 40 percent of the hundreds of homeless female veterans of recent wars have said they were sexually assaulted by American soldiers while in the military, officials said.

“Sexual abuse is a risk factor for homelessness,” Pete Dougherty, the V.A.’s director of homeless programs, said.

Special traits of the current wars may contribute to homelessness, including high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and traumatic brain injury, which can cause unstable behavior and substance abuse, and the long and repeated tours of duty, which can make the reintegration into families and work all the harder.

Frederick Johnson, 37, an Army reservist, slept in abandoned houses shortly after returning to Chester, Pa., from a year in Iraq, where he experienced daily mortar attacks and saw mangled bodies of soldiers and children. He started using crack cocaine and drinking, burning through $6,000 in savings.

“I cut myself off from my family and went from being a pleasant guy to wanting to rip your head off if you looked at me wrong,” Mr. Johnson said.

(…)  Read more about Fredrick at the link above

Poverty and high housing costs also contribute. The National Alliance to End Homelessness in Washington will release a report on Thursday saying that among one million veterans who served after the Sept. 11 attacks, 72,000 are paying more than half their incomes for rent, leaving them highly vulnerable.

Mr. Dougherty of the V.A. said outreach officers, who visit shelters, soup kitchens and parks, had located about 1,500 returnees from Iraq or Afghanistan who seemed at high risk, though many had jobs. More than 400 have entered agency-supported residential programs around the country. No one knows how many others have not made contact with aid agencies.

More than 11 percent of the newly homeless veterans are women, Mr. Dougherty said, compared with 4 percent enrolled in such programs over all.

Veterans have long accounted for a high share of the nation’s homeless. Although they make up 11 percent of the adult population, they make up 26 percent of the homeless on any given day, the National Alliance report calculated.

Oldtimer’s comment:   My studies show that homeless male veterans make up 43% of the homeless male population, far in excess of what would be expected.

According to the V.A., some 196,000 veterans of all ages were homeless on any given night in 2006. That represents a decline from about 250,000 a decade back, Mr. Dougherty said, as housing and medical programs grew and older veterans died.

Oldtimer’s comment:  Oops!  That is a deliberately misleading statement.   A GAO report states that the drop from 250,000 a decade ago was due to a major change in how homeless veterans are counted.   While it is true that our older veterans are dieing off, many more veterans are joining the ranks of the homeless and make up for it.  There has been no real decline, and actually there has been a steady increase in the percentage of homeless veterans vs the overall population of veterans.

The most troubling face of homelessness has been the chronic cases, those who live in the streets or shelters for more than year. Some 44,000 to 64,000 veterans fit that category, according to the National Alliance study.

On Wednesday, the Bush administration announced what it described as “remarkable progress” for the chronic homeless. Alphonso R. Jackson, the secretary of housing and urban development, said a new policy of bringing the long-term homeless directly into housing, backed by supporting services, had put more than 20,000, or about 12 percent, into permanent or transitional homes.

Oldtimer’s comment:  I’m not sure where these numbers come from.  It appears the HUD secretary is talking about all chronic homeless, not just veterans.   20,000 is 12% of 166,000, which is about right for the chronic homeless for the entire homeless population. To get a feel for progress among veterans, see the following two paragraphs.

Veterans have been among the beneficiaries, but Mary Cunningham, director of the research institute of the National Alliance and chief author of their report, said the share of supported housing marked for veterans was low.

A collaborative program of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the V.A. has developed 1,780 such units. The National Alliance said the number needed to grow by 25,000.

Mr. Dougherty described the large and growing efforts the V.A. was making to prevent homelessness including offering two years of free medical care and identifying psychological and substance abuse problems early.

Oldtimer’s Comment:  ‘Bout Time!

(…)

Oldtimer Speaks more about recalls

A few days ago I made a lengthy post about toy recalls and our general mania about dangerous materials – See Lead Paint Mania – Are we going overboard?.   Such mania has become so ingrained in our younger generation as to be completely ridiculous. 

This delightful cartoon from B.C., created by Johnny Hart and published by Creators Syndicate, Inc. can be found on Creators.com.   Sadly Johnny Hart passed away this year.   Looks like the work is being carried on by capable hands.

 B.C.

Today there is yet another story about a toy recall, this one due to asbestos supposedly found in a Planet Toys CSI toy, a fingerprinting kit.   This comes after traces of asbestos were alledgely found in some samples of the fingerprinting dust. 

Now here is the rub:  Fingerprinting dust is just that, a very finely ground powder.  The problem with asbestos is in the fiber.  People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos fibers for a long time.   Once it is ground so fine that it becomes a dust, it no longer is a fiber is it

Now consider this:  Asbestos is in virtually every sample of dirt and dust you can find on this planet.   We have asbestos dust on and alongside of every road in America from the constant wearing of asbestos pads on our automotive brakes.   Virtually every car had them for throughout their lifetime.   They all wore out somewhere along our highways, mostly in the cities.   No wonder it might show up in fingerprinting dust.  You can very likely find traces of it on your dining room table if you haven’t dusted lately.

Here are common sources of asbestos dust on our planet, not even considering that it is a natural mineral sometimes blasted into the atmosphere by natural sources (I even have a large sample of it in my rock collection):

STEAM PIPES, BOILERS, and FURNACE DUCTS insulated with an asbestos blanket or asbestos paper tape.

RESILIENT FLOOR TILES (vinyl asbestos, asphalt, and rubber)

The backing on VINYL SHEET FLOORING, and ADHESIVES used for installing floor tile.

CEMENT SHEET, MILLBOARD, and PAPER used as insulation around furnaces and woodburning stoves.

DOOR GASKETS in furnaces, wood stoves, and coal stoves.

SOUNDPROOFING OR DECORATIVE MATERIAL sprayed on walls and ceilings.

PATCHING AND JOINT COMPOUNDS for walls and ceilings, and TEXTURED PAINTS.

ASBESTOS CEMENT ROOFING, SHINGLES, and SIDING.

ARTIFICIAL ASHES AND EMBERS sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces.

Older FIREPROOF GLOVES, STOVE-TOP PADS, IRONING BOARD COVERS, and certain HAIRDRYERS.

AUTOMOBILE BRAKE PADS AND LININGS, CLUTCH FACINGS, and GASKETS.

Most of the above were found in a listing here: Asbestos Dangers:
A Homeowner’s Field Guide
.

The list is for the homeowner, but the greatest uses were military and industrial, particularly shipyard and any industrial furnace and boiler application.   

There have been tens of thousands, perhaps many millions of homes and buildings with these materials demolished over the last 100 years without any consideration for the potential danger.  It was an unknown danger.

Here is another rub.   When these products were introduced, no one knew they were dangerous.  As we replace these products with new ones, we have no idea if the new products will someday turn out to be even worse.   Some of these things take 40 or more years of exposure to show harmful effects. 

Anyway, this may be my last post on dangerous material mania.   There is too big of an industry built around “protecting” us from mold, mildew, various “deadly” medicines, mercury, asbestos, lead, silica poisoning, and fake stucco.   Too many testing labs and kit manufacturers,  too many repair and recovery businesses.  Too many lawyers doing class actions, too many activists going after the toy industry.  

Our veterans have been fighting for years about the damage caused by Agent Orange, depleted uranium bullets and other wartime generated dangers.  These are REAL dangers, not imagined ones.   We should be developing industries around correcting those problems which plague our veterans, our heroes.

It is downright discouraging how too many of us overreact to the household things.  The truth is, most of this mania is manufactured by lecherous industries and lawyers.   It is also discoraging that not enough of us are reacting to our homeless plight, particularly our homeless heroes plight.

Oldtimer

PS: I wore a face mask filter to finish sanding today.  Was coughing up white dust so I  decided to not fight it any longer.   Who knows?  I might not live another 70 years if I keep abusing myself!

December 21 – Homeless Memorial Day

December 21 

Homeless Memorial Day

memorial day poster

The date is chosen as the First Day of Winter – The longest Night of the Year

(Find the poster here)

For the homeless, any night can be a nightmare.   Danger aside, Winter is the worst season, any night with rain, sleet or snow is just plain miserable.   Unsheltered homeless die far too often in such conditions.   Our homeless heroes, our veterans die in the cold, sleet and snow too.

According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, homelessness dramatically increases the risk of illness, injury or death.  

Compared to the general population, the homeless :

Are 3 times more likely to die at any given age 

Middle aged men and young women are most at risk

Have a life span 28 years less than national average

Have 6 times the incidence of serious illnesses

Die from illnesses that are easily treated or prevented

Who live in shelters have high risk of communicable diseases

Have a high incidence of death from heart problems or cancer

Risk death on the streets from cold

Have 8 times the risk of dieing from Frostbite 

Too often die on the streets from unprovoked hate crimes

Lack access to quality health care. 

Here is a list of 2222 homeless people and their locations by city that are known deaths in 2006.  There were an estimated 17,500 homeless deaths in the United States last year, meaning that more than 15,000 homeless died virtually unnoticed or at least unidentified in 2006.  (I base that knowing that there are about 735,000 homeless in this country and the homeless die at 3x the rate of 800 deaths per 100,000 of the general population.)

Keep in mind that about 4,600 of those deaths are homeless veterans.  I base that on the knowledge that there are an estimated 195,000 homeless veterans and use the same rates as above.

There is no way to know how close that number is, but whatever it is, it is shameful that our homeless are so very vulnerable to death through the neglect of our system of care.   It is a disgrace to this country that almost 5000 of our heroes die in in the streets and alleys of our country each year.    

So when Homeless Memorial Day comes around, you can also remember the 4600 homeless heroes that did not die on the battlefield of war, but lived to die in the alleys, streets and woods of the country they served, uncared for, helpless and unwanted.  My fault as much as anyone for not speaking up as loudly as I should.    Can’t we all do more? 

Oldtimer

Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program 28 cents a day per vet

Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program

US Department Of Labor HVRP Fact Sheet

Oldtimer’s comment:  You must read to the bottom of this to get the whole story, my fact checker. 

The purpose of the Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP) is to provide services to assist in reintegrating homeless veterans into meaningful employment within the labor force and to stimulate the development of effective service delivery systems that will address the complex problems facing homeless veterans.

HVRP was initially authorized under Section 738 of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act in July 1987. It is currently authorized under Title 38 U.S.C. Section 2021, as added by Section 5 of Public Law 107-95, the Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act of 2001. Funds are awarded on a competitive basis to eligible applicants such as: State and local Workforce Investment Boards, public agencies, for-profit/commercial entities, and non-profit organizations, including faith based and community based organizations.

Grantees provide an array of services utilizing a case management approach that directly assists homeless veterans as well as provide critical linkages for a variety of supportive services available in their local communities. The program is “employment focused” and veterans receive the employment and training services they need in order to re-enter the labor force. Job placement, training, job development, career counseling, resume preparation, are among the services that are provided.

Supportive services such as clothing, provision of or referral to temporary, transitional, and permanent housing, referral to medical and substance abuse treatment, and transportation assistance are also provided to meet the needs of this target group.

Since its inception, HVRP has featured an outreach component using veterans who themselves have experienced homelessness. In recent years, this successful technique was modified to allow the programs to utilize formerly homeless veterans in various other positions where there is direct client contact such as counseling, peer coaching, intake, and follow-up services.

The emphasis on helping homeless veterans get and retain jobs is enhanced through many linkages and coordination with various veterans’ services programs and organizations such as the Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program and Local Veterans’ Employment Representatives stationed in the local employment service offices of the State Workforce Agencies, Workforce Investment Boards, One-Stop Centers, Veterans’ Workforce Investment Program, the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Departments of Veterans’ Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services.

For more information about U.S. Department of Labor employment and training programs for veterans, contact the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service office nearest you, listed in the phone book under United States Government, U.S. Department of Labor or at this link.

———————————————————————— 

Oldtimer’s comment:  The above is copied in full from the Dept of Labor at the link at the beginning of this post.  There are other services and publications available as links at the same site.  Worth a look-see if you are a homeless veteran or know of one in your community.  

However, they farm all of this stuff out to certain areas of the country through grants to a few private and public organizations in 30 states.  Most areas have no such programs, including 20 entire states that received no funding.

I took the liberty of looking up the grants provided by this program. 

In 2007 they provided 87 grants totaling 20 Million dollars and some change.  The grants went to such places as Goodwill ($1.54 Million), Nashville’s Operation Stand down ($300,000), both of  which Wanderingvet, our homeless veteran friend, either wrote about or visited.  I’m not sure that he would claim we get our money’s worth.  Some city, county and state govenments benefitted.  The HVF mentioned in a previous post was not listed among the grantees. 

There were 12,877 planned enrollments which are expected to result in 9113 employments, at a cost of $2226 per placement at an average salary of $9.87 and hour.   The highest rate was $11.50 and the lowest $6.95 an hour.  Cost of placement varies by location.  Nevada for example can employ a veteran at a cost of $971 while others go as high as more than $5000 per placement such as in California.

OK Department of Labor:  What are you going to do if the other 190,000 homeless veterans show up?  It is gonna be a long line.  You have funded $101.42  per homeless vet.  That works out to 27.7 cents per day!   Pencil and a few sheets of paper anyone?

Creative Commons photo provided courtesy of [martin]

Department of Labor:  You are not doing enough for our homeless heroes!

Oldtimer