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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
 

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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

Souper Bowl Feb 3d 2008

2008 Souper Bowl of Caring

February 3d 2008

On February 3rd millions of people will tune into the Super Bowl game. At the same time, there will be nearly a million people in our country worrying about finding safe shelter and a hot meal.    In 2007, over 14,000 groups participated in the Souper Bowl of Caring, raising over $8 million dollars and collecting 2.8 million pounds of food. Visit the Souperbowl web site  for more information.    

  Click on the picture above or here for a brief video about this ministry.  You will enjoy this upbeat production that explains where the money goes and how to help.  

The Souperbowl resource center has materials you can download so that you can set up your own Souper Bowl party and/or start collecting.   You can collect locally and take the money directly to a local charity that is participating in this program or send it in.   If you don’t want to do that, you can volunteer to help.  They NEED you!   Find one near you here.

Here is a link to an interactive map with about 12,000 locations.  Zoom into your area, and hover your cursor over a dot and it will bring up information about one near you.   

Ever been Hungry?   Maybe once a day?

Really Really Hungry?  Maybe once a month?

How about all the time?

In 2006 in the USA:

• 37 million people were in poverty.
• 7.6  million families were in poverty.
• 20.2 million of people aged 18-64 were in poverty.
• 12.8 million children under the age of 18 were in poverty.
• 3.4 million seniors 65 and older were in poverty.

In 2006, 4.6 million households experienced very low food security   People that fall into this category have struggled with having enough food for the household, including cutting back or skipping meals on a frequent basis for both adults and children.

We/You can help!

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!

(…)

Vigil honors homeless who died

Vigil honors homeless who died

Last night was the longest night of the year.  It was also Homeless Memorial Day corresponding to the first day of winter.    All across the country there were candlelight memorial services to honor the homeless that died in 2007.   Many died unknown, others had touched lives while living and had many friends that cared.  Sadly, some are still out there in the woods somewhere covered in leaves or snow where they fell.

Most died without any particular notice or ceremony despite having been born into loving families, having brothers and sisters and other loved ones somewhere, most not knowing of the passing.   Some never loved and always negelected, some mentally ill to the point that no one was allowed near in lifetime, often refusing help.  So sad.  The following story was printed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper today.   I’m proud that someone took the time to record this service for the passing homeless.

By GAYLE WHITE
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 12/21/07

As the longest night of the year fell on Atlanta, about 100 people gathered on the edge of downtown Friday to light candles honoring the homeless dead.   In the chill of the evening, with MARTA trains rumbling by, they paid tribute to people most never knew.

 

Photo by Allen Sullivan/AJC   People gather during a vigil at Saint Joseph’s Mercy Care Services on Friday for homeless people who have died this year in Atlanta. Candles were lit for 55 people that died on the streets or in shelters.
 

Photo by Allen Sullivan/AJC    Sonja Mason (right) and others gather during a vigil at Saint Joseph’s Mercy Care Services on Friday.

“When homeless folks die, they just die,” said Robert Mason, director of community relations for St. Joseph’s Mercy Care Services, sponsor of the vigil, which took place outside its Decatur Street headquarters. “We want to bring attention to those folks who have passed in a quiet death and call their names.”

They sounded out 65 names in all- men and women who lived on the streets and in shelters, who were mentally ill, drug-addicted or just down on their luck.

Stacey Fortner

On a brutally cold day last winter, Fortner climbed a fence to huddle outside Central Presbyterian Church, where she often found friendship, doughnuts and hot coffee.

In her 40s, she was a “sweet lady” who was developmentally disabled, mentally ill and had abused drugs, said the Rev. Andy Gans, then director of the church’s outreach center. She was frequently robbed of the money from her disability check, he said, so she survived by prostitution.

Early one morning, Gans said, she told him she was tired of selling herself and tired of doing drugs. For hours he and his co-workers tried to find a rehabilitation program for her, to no avail. That evening, she stayed, as she always did, under an interstate overpass.

That cold day last winter, workers called 911 and sent her to Grady Memorial Hospital. Gans was with her when she died the next night.

Tim Green

Green was living with a girlfriend earlier this year after five years on the streets.   From 2002 until early 2007, he had stayed at shelters and had eaten in soup kitchens.

He had once abused drugs, said Al Wright, director of communications and security at Crossroads Community Ministries, Atlanta, but lately he was clean and sober.

On Oct. 17, Green came to Crossroads to spend time with Wright, who had known him for more than 10 years-from a time when Green had a job and a home.

“He sat here with me all day and we just talked and laughed and talked about old times,” said Wright, who added he believed Green was 43.  The next morning, Green was cooking breakfast when he dropped to the floor, the victim of an apparent heart attack. Efforts to revive him failed.

(…)  There are other stories and other related articles at the AJC. 

Next year maybe there will be more candlelight vigils.  I know there will be more homeless to honor – there always are.

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

Ministering to the Homeless 3

Church defies city prosecutor,

helps homeless

This article is about a church in Long Beach California that was being cited by the city for allowing the homeless to sleep in their doorways, stairwells and on the grounds.   The church refused under a penality of $1000 per day fine.    Find this story at it’s original news source.

Article Launched: 01/29/2007 09:56:55 PM PST

The First Congregational Church, a downtown Long Beach (California) landmark, is defying the city prosecutor’s office by allowing the homeless to sleep on its grounds. The pastor, the Rev. Jerald Stinson, affirmed the church’s stand earlier this month in a sermon that brought standing applause from his socially conscious flock.

“Each person who seeks warmth and safety within those railings is a beloved child of God,” he said. “There is a spark of the divine within each of them. If you do not believe that, if you just write them off as worthless, what do you do with everything Jesus said and did?

Corletto and Michael Bryant, 32, are two of many local homeless people
who have accepted the church’s offer of a place to sleep on its grounds.
(Photo by Kevin Chang / Press-Telegram)

The church has a long record of involvement with helping the homeless in Long Beach. For example, the church’s Drop-In Center opens its doors on Sunday when most other agencies are closed. From 12:30 to 4 p.m., the homeless can eat lunch, talk with each other, and use computers. Founded in 1888, First Congregational has a notable record of social concern. While other churches look to the heavens, however properly, the church at Third and Cedar looks across the street and far beyond.

$1,000 a day?

Each night 15 to 20 people sleep on the steps and grounds of the church. Claiming it has received anonymous complaints, the prosecutor’s office says the practice must stop and has threatened a fine of $1,000 a day if it does not. On Sundays, when many social agencies are closed, the church’s Drop-In Center opens its doors from 12:30 to 4 p.m. so street people can eat lunch, read, see movies, play games and chat with each other and with volunteers. According to the church’s Web site, some homeless use the opportunity to check e-mail and write resumes.

“Many who sleep outside the church struggle with mental illness. One gentle, really nice man who has been here for years is convinced Jesus gave him this church, and he regularly asks me for the keys. Another man thinks he is a king and the church is his castle. There is a woman who believes she is the wife of deceased billionaire Howard Hughes, that he is on his way from Las Vegas to take her home. None of those folks, without a great deal of help, will ever be able to find and keep a place of their own.”

Oldtimer’s comment.  I looked and could not find out what became of this situation except that there have been meetings held at the church between the police and the homeless to help define and mediate the tension between the two forces.   I suspect that the church escaped the fines and continues to allow the homeless to sleep on their grounds.   A bulletin asking for volunteers (printed below) indicates the church has not lost its desire to help the homeless.

Homeless Drop In Center call for volunteers:

“The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say to him: What are you going through?” Simone Well

On Sunday afternoons, the First Congregational Church of of Long Beach operates a Homeless Drop-In Center on their church premises. They open their doors & their hearts to over 300 + homeless brothers & sisters in the Long Beach area.

It enables them to eat, read, rest, & socialize. Many write job applications & resumes in their computer lab. It is also haven for people to go on the day of the week when many agencies which serve the homeless are closed.

This is run entirely by rotating volunteers, so they need our help!

Oftentimes, the homeless are so ostracized, yet they long to interact with the very pedestrians who pass them by on the street. As such, the Drop-In Center mostly serves as a way of connecting people, homeless or otherwise, to create a sense of community.

They need about 15-20 of us to help serve food, set-up, clean-up & mostly reach out to the many homeless who seek shelter there.

This is what ministering to the homeless means

Oldtimer