Category Archives: transitional housing

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

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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!  

 

 

 

 

Homeless Veteran Fellowship

The Homeless Veteran Fellowship (HVF) is located in Ogden, Utah.   Their motto is “Veterans Helping Veterans and Our Community”.  It was founded in 1989 by a group of veterans. 

 

Main Office, drop in center and some residences

Folks, this is a pretty neat operation!   They provide 32 transitional residences for needy veterans.   They also provide a comprehensive range of services to assist the homeless veteran to move from transitional housing to independent living by providing:

Substance-free, zero-tolerance, stabilized transitional housing.
Acquisition of skills and knowledge necessary to obtain suitable employment.
Acquisition of life skills necessary for independence and self-sufficiency
Employment development and placement in suitable occupations which maximizes the resident’s income potential
Substance abuse counseling to promote maintained abstinence from drugs and/or alcohol.
Mental health counseling to assist residents to process issues that may impede their ongoing development.

They consider themselves as an aid station for behind the lines assistance to veterans in need of help.

They have a drop in center that welcomes homeless veterans.    The Drop-in center is manned by volunteers and transitional housing members. People working in the drop-in center are prepared to discuss program basics and initiate paperwork, assist with Veterans Administration needs (DD 214, ID Card, etc.).   The drop in center has a small library of donated paperback books for those who just want to rest and relax.

The drop-in center provides hot coffee, donuts, and reading material for visitors, workers, and residents. Donated supplies, including coffee, sugar, plastic ware, pastries, creamer, cups, napkins, and cleaning supplies.  Also paperback books, magazines, board games, card games, food items, such as canned goods, boxed or packaged items.   Hygiene items (soap, toothpaste, tooth brushes, deodorant, etc.) are also available for those living on the street.

HVF provides referral services through the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City, and through other local agencies. HVF also provides extensive case management services for clients to ensure that all critical needs are met.

There is a licensed Clinical Social Worker and Substance Abuse counselor on staff to provide both individual and group counseling for Veterans in the Transitional Housing program.

 HVF’s employment development program consists of a full-time Employment Development Specialist to assist clients in obtaining meaningful employment. HVF has a vendor license with the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation for Supported Job Based Training (SJBT).

The Homeless Veterans Fellowship provides a Transitional Housing Program which is designed to temporarily stabilize the housing needs of veterans, both single and with families.

Main Housing Unit (there are 3 others)

Facilities:

The HVF Office building houses the Drop-In Center, Director’s Office, Employment Specialist, VA Counseling Services and apartments.
Next Door to the Office Building is the main housing facility with apartments available for male, female, or family participants.
To the rear of the main housing facility there is a renovated house that has been converted into apartments to support residents.
Just up the road about a block is a 4th facility with apartments to support residents.
In all there are facilities to house 32 participants
.

This looks like a program that could be emulated across the country.  Homeless Veterans Fellowship is a non-profit organization, as such, it depends totally upon the generosity of the community and public and private grants.

That is the way to minister to the homeless veteran! 

Oldtimer

Too Little – Too Late – 7300 Homeless Veterans, 40 Beds

New Program Aims to Give Homeless

Vets a New Start

A new program aimed at whittling down the 7,300 veterans living on Washington’s streets and in its forests is nearing its start date in South Kitsap.

Forty veterans at a time will participate in a homeless veterans transition program on the Washington Veterans Home campus, where they’ll be supervised, kept busy looking for jobs, and given help with any addiction and mental health problems they may have. The goal is for them to find a job and their own place to live.

Meanwhile, participants will be allowed to stay for up to two years in a 78-year-old brick building that became vacant three years ago when residents moved into a new $47 million skilled nursing facility. They’ll share a room at first, then move into private quarters.

Oldtimer’s Comment:  7,300 homeless, 40 beds every 2 years, shared rooms, ancient building.   Lets do the math   7300/40 = 1 bed per 182 homeless Heroes, served every 2 years.  Ok, a start.  A pitifull one at best.    1 bed per 182 homeless Heroes – gonna be a bit crowded.  “Shared room” has an entirely new meaning. 

The facility, with $500,000 of renovations, is expected to open within the next two months, said Ray Switzer, who was hired by the state Department of Veterans Affairs to get the program up and running.

Me Again:  To be clear, the $47 million skilled nursing facility is a 240 bed Veterans Nursing Home completed in 2005.   I think that is wonderful.  My problem is that we spent $195,000 per bed for those residents but the spending for our Homelees Heroes is only $12,500 per bed.  Our homeless heroes get the short end of every funding allocation there is, in this case,  94 to 1.  What makes a down-and-out veteran worth so much less than another?

“The decision was made that we shouldn’t let this thing fall down,” Switzer said of 36,000-square-foot Building 9. “There are too many veterans out there who need assistance.”

Applicants will be referred from Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals in Seattle and Tacoma and local agencies. Switzer estimates there are 1,500 to 2,000 homeless veterans in Kitsap County.

 So locally, the ratio is about 1 bed for each 50 homeless local veterans.  Lots of men and women Heroes sleeping in the woods tonight, thousands of them.   Winter is coming folks.  

Our Homeless Heroes deserve better treatment than this! 

 What makes a down-and-out veteran worth so much less than another?

 Lack of a a Voice. 

Your Voice. 

Speak up, America!

Oldtimer

 

 

 

VA Announces 33 cent per day Grants for Homeless Vets.

The announcement really says:

VA Announces $24 Million in Grants for Homeless Programs

But I’ve done the math. 

$24,000,000 divided by the 200,000 homeless veterans that the VA claims are homeless is a whopping $120.00 a year per homeless vet.   That’s only 32.8 cents a day per veteran!

Life Saver Candy

VA Allocation per day is 32.8 Cents

Note:  The announcement wording is indented below.

WASHINGTON – Homeless veterans in 37 states will get more assistance, thanks to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) selection of 92 community organizations to receive funds for transitional housing this year. “Only through a dedicated partnership with community and faith-based organizations can we hope to reduce homelessness among veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson. “These partnerships provide safe, comfortable housing in caring communities for veterans who need a helping hand.”

Ok, correct me if I’m wrong, but we have 50 states right?   And only 37 will get funds for transitional housing?   (Actually 35, since they counted Guam and D.C. as a states).  Hopefully that means the other 15 don’t have any homeless veterans.    92 community organizations in 37 states.   Roughly 2 or 3 communities in each state get aid?   Actually 15 states get nothing, 15 more get only one grant.  A select 20 get the bulk of the money.

Fifty-three organizations will receive $10 million to provide about 1,000 transitional housing beds under VA’s per diem program;

Lets see, that’s $10,000 per bed (average) for traditional housing.   Costs per bed range from $46,613 each in California to only $2,243 in New Jersey per bed for transitional beds.   Is there something wrong with this picture?

Thirty-six groups will receive $12 million for programs for homeless veterans who are seriously mentally, women, including women with children, frail elderly or terminally ill; (sic)

I counted 493 beds for the mentally ill veterans, 81 beds for women, 62 beds for the frail and elderly and 28 beds for the terminally ill in their list of grants.  The allocation is only $4.9 million for the mentally ill veterans. 

I do appreciate the fact that these funds will go to help the most chronically ill and  helpless of our veterans, I really do.   However,  according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) 45%  of homeless veterans experience mental illness problems.  So let’s do the math again.  45% of 200,000 vets is 95,000 veterans.   Divide that into $4.9 million. 

mint candyThat is a whopping $51.58 per year, per mentally ill veteran funding for housing and services.   Whoopee.   Our mentally ill homeless heroes are funded at the rate of 14 cents per day.  And these are funded in only 14 states.   Lets see, they fund only 1 bed per 192 mentally-ill homeless heroes.    Shameful!

Slightly over $1 million to fund 81 beds for women at an average of $13,000 per bed.  But contrast that with some of the grants:    $46, 500 per bed in Sacramento, vs. $3,222 per bed in Tampa.   Wonder what makes a homeless woman in Sacramento 15 times more costly than one in Tampa?  (The same disparity for mentally ill – Sacramento 30K per bed, only 4K in Cocoa, Fla.).   Is someone in Sacramento ripping the vets off?

Taj MahalPup tent

Sacramento homeless bed costs vs. Florida.

Three organizations will receive about $2 million for various technical assistance projects.

1) National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) $800,000.

2) North Carolina Governor’s Institute on Alcohol & Substance Abuse $992,860

 3) Staten Island  Public Resources Inc.  $996,446

Hmmm… These three organizations together are funded more for technical assistance than all the homeless women vets in the country plus all the frail and elderly vets (male and female) plus the terminally ill veterans.   No comment.

The grants are part of VA’s continuing efforts to reduce homelessness among veterans. VA has the largest integrated network of homeless assistance programs in the country. In many cities and rural areas, VA social workers and other clinicians working with community and faith-based partners conduct extensive outreach programs, clinical assessments, medical treatments, alcohol and drug abuse counseling and employment assistance.

That ain’t right folks.   The VA claims to have the largest integrated network, but I don’t believe that.   The VA says it has funded only 400 grants since 1994 in its  Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program per it’s 2006 Homeless Fact Sheet.  That does not include those in this announcement.    Piddling disbusements for our heroes most at risk.

Much work remains to be done, but the partnership effort is making significant progress. Today, it is estimated that fewer than 200,000 veterans may be homeless on an average night, which represents a 20 percent reduction during the past six years.

OK, here is something blatant folks.  They have used the 200,000 figure consistantly for years except when they changed their counting methods about 6 years ago!   There is no real reduction!   The number of Vietnam veterans declined by 23 percent per the US census over the period 2000 to 2005.    We can’t crow over a 20 percent reduction if the reduction is due to our older veterans dying out.  It appears to me that the percent of homeless veterans grew some during the same period.   It looks like a case of spin doctoring on the VA’s part.  The VA is not allocating enough funding for our homeless veterans with a paltry $24 million.   They appear to be waiting for them to die out.  They have allocated 155 grants totaling $283 million for cemetery plots. 

 Some Spending Perspective:

The VA is funding a $113 million grant to California to build a new veteran’s home at a cost of $285,000 a bed, but nationwide, only $24 million for transitional beds averaging only $120 per homeless veteran.   Habitat can build a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with central heat and air for $55,000 each.   They can build over 2000 houses for the amount spent to house just over 600 in multiple occupancy conditions or more than 1000 without volunteers.   But a good politician can get $285K a bed for his district!  Something is wildly wrong.

Our Heroes Deserve

Better Treatment

 

 

This article is only one of more than 50 homeless veteran posts.  In addition there are more than  27 posts on homeless youth .   If you are interested in either of these important topics, please click one of these links.    Please consider adding me to your feed (see link below my picture.)  Thank you for coming by,Oldtimer

GPD – Grant and Per Diem Program for Homeless Vets

GPD Transitional Housing Program

for Homeless Veterans

The GAO did a study of the Grant and Per Diem Program in 2005 and reported it in late 2006.  The information below came chiefly from that study – a 59 page PDF file.

GPD flowchartThe Grant and Per Diem Program (GPD)–VA’s major transitional housing program for homeless veterans–spent about $67 million in fiscal year 2005. It became VA’s largest program for homeless veterans after fiscal year 2002, when VA began to increase GPD program capacity and phase out national funding for the more costly contracted residential treatment-another of VA’s transitional housing programs. To operate the GPD program at the local level, nonprofit and public agencies compete for grants. The program provides two basic types of grants-capital grants to pay for the buildings that house homeless veterans and per diem grants for the day-to-day operational expenses.

 cup of coffeecup of coffed quote

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                    

Capital grants cover up to 65 percent of housing acquisition, construction, or renovation costs and require that agencies receiving the grants cover the remaining costs through other funding sources. Generally, agencies that have received capital grants are considered for subsequent per diem grants, so that the VA investment can be realized and the buildings can provide operational beds.

Per diem grants support the operations of about 300 GPD providers nationwide. The per diem grants pay a fixed dollar amount for each day an authorized bed is occupied by an eligible veteran up to the maximum number of beds allowed by the grant. Generally under this grant, VA does not pay for empty beds.

VA makes payments after an agency has housed the veteran, on a cost reimbursement basis, and the agency may use the payments to offset operating costs, such as staff salaries and utilities.  By law, the per diem reimbursement cannot exceed a fixed rate, which was $29.31 per person per day in 2006.  Reimbursement may be lower for providers receiving funds for the same purpose from other sources.

On a limited basis, special needs grants are available to cover the additional costs of serving women, frail elderly, terminally ill, or chronically mentally ill veterans. Although the primary focus of the GPD program is housing, grants may also be used for transport or to operate daytime service centers that do not provide overnight accommodations. 

 According to VA, in fiscal year 2005, GPD grants supported about 75 vans that were used to conduct outreach and transport homeless veterans to medical and other appointments. Also, 23 service centers were operating with GPD support.

Barracks Style Bunk BedsMost GPD providers have 50 or fewer beds available for homeless veterans, with the majority of providers having 25 or fewer.  Accommodations vary and may range from rooms in multistory buildings in the inner city to rooms in detached homes in suburban residential neighborhoods. Veterans may sleep in barracks-style bunk beds in a room shared by several other participants or may have their own rooms.

In fiscal year 2005, VA had the capacity to house about 8,000 veterans on any given night. However, over the course of the year, because some veterans completed the program in a matter of months and others left before completion, VA was able to admit about 16,600 veterans into the program. 

Homeless vets per yearOldtimer’s Comments:  The GAO found that the VA’s GPD program was the VA’s largest homeless program beginning in 2005, spending $67 million on 194,000 veterans, a whopping 94 cents a day per homeless veteran – you can’t buy a vet a cup of coffee for that.   It assigned a van to outreach more than 2500 homeless vets per van.   It provided support to 23 service centers with an average of 25  or fewer beds, something like 600 beds total while in actuality much of the money went to vans and administrative costs, so the figure per vet is quite low. 

The curious thing about the chart above, provided by the GAO, is the sudden disconnect between 2003 and 2004.   A sudden loss of 121,000 homeless vets in one year!  The VA says it “improved its counting methods,” now relying on the Continuum of Care program under HUD.   The CoC program is a count of all homeless.  Unfortunately, there is no consistent query relating to veterans in their survey.   There is no consistant directive requiring VA centers to use a particular counting method.  The GAO says that, “in 2005, more than twice as many local VA officials used HUD counts as was the case in 2003.”  That indicates some do and some don’t.   No one knows within tens of thousands how many homeless veterans there are.

Considering The VA has capacity to house 8000 veterans on any given night in 2005, the other 186,000 homeless veterans on those same nights had to fend for themselves.  Considering that 8000 beds times $29.31 per night means the VA should have spent $85 million on the bedded veterans over a year’s time, but could not as they only had $67 million to spend, much of which went to the vans and overhead.  Obviously there were considerable empty beds during the year due to underfunding or inefficient turnover in available beds.

More on this report later.

Oldtimer

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