Tag Archives: New Jersey

Ministering to the Homeless 7

This is the seventh article in a series on ministering to the homeless.   This one is special.  It is about a ministry by Steve Brigham that has touched my heart to the extent that I’ve included his ministry twice.  The first article on his minstry dates back to February of 2007.    I thought it was time for an update because the compassion and love and sacrifice required for this ministry is just enormous.  The article below is reproduced only in snippets to give you a flavor of what the good Reverand does for the homeless.  Please read the Tri-Town News story for the rest of it.

 Rev.’s appointed rounds are off the beaten path

 Steve Brigham continues outreach to homeless population

BY TOYNETT HALL Staff Writer Tri-Town News January 10, 2008

On a regular basis the Rev. Steve Brigham of the Lakewood Outreach Ministry wakes at the crack of dawn to visit 11 campsites in Ocean County.   These are not the type of campsites where families go to spend a weekend enjoying nature.

Brigham walks along railroad tracks and trudges through the muddy forest floor bearing gifts for the homeless people who live in these campsites and who have become his friends.   One of his goals is to make sure that the people who live in tent encampments throughout the county have enough propane gas to run the heaters that keep them warm through the cold winter nights.

As he reaches a group of tents in what is identifiable as a Mexican encampment, Brigham offers blankets to the people living at the site and tells his amigos where tortillas are being cooked and that he will bring them a big tent the next time he comes.

A short time later Brigham is driving his bus – a motel on wheels – to a site called Shanty Town. At this campsite some of the dwellings are made with wood that came from a lumber yard. Other people live in tents that have been provided by Brigham and anonymous donors.

(…) 

The last site of the day was also in Toms River. At that spot Brigham pitched tents for Gloria, 65, and Richard A. Mazzella Jr., 33. Both individuals said they ended up here as a result of financial hardships.

(…) 

Another resident of the camp, Robert Wayne Pisano, said he has been homeless since he was 16. He is now in his 40s. Pisano said if it were not for Brigham’s kindness, he does not know where he would be. He said Brigham offers people like him a measure of hope.

“I have never seen a man take time out of his life like this. This guy cares who you are and where you are. He treats us like we are his own kids. Every piece of clothing I have on right now is because of Steve,” Pisano said.

As tears welled up in his eyes, Pisano said, “We have nothing. Yes, we are homeless, but we want to be treated like everyone else. Please recognize us.”

(…) 

According to statistics from the New Jersey Corporation for Supportive Housing, a national nonprofit, as of Jan. 25, 2007, there were 14,939 homeless people in New Jersey. Of that number, 12,397 were adults and 2,542 were children.

In Ocean County, 366 adults were found to be homeless. In Monmouth County, 590 adults were found to homeless, according to information provided by the Corporation for Supportive Housing. These numbers may be under-reported, according to the agency.

Anyone who would like to assist the Rev. Steve Brigham may call (732) 364- 0340 or (732) 814-5537. Brigham may also be reached at Lakewood Outreach Ministry Church, P.O. Box 326, Lakewood, NJ 08701.

THIS is what ministering to the homeless means!

Winter is Here, It is already cold,

It is Cold to the Bone

Please volunteer somewhere!

Oldtimer

Ministering to the Homeless 2

A Ministry in the Cold, With a Gospel of Propane
Find and read the rest of this very moving story here:

Jose Adrian Tenahua is in an encampment of homeless people in Ocean County, N.J.;  A minister has been visiting several sites a week to supply the residents with propane. Photo by Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Written By KAREEM FAHIM

 LAKEWOOD, N.J., Feb. 8 — The minister pulled his large blue bus into a parking lot a half-mile from Exit 82 on the Garden State Parkway, behind a Boater’s World and a McDonald’s. Stepping out, he plunged into the frozen backwoods, where he came upon several tents zipped up tight against the frigid wind. In the back of the bus, the minister carried bulging gray metal cans filled with gallons of relief. For the homeless who have settled here, by mucky streams or in thickets of scrub pine, in sight of cellphone towers and gas stations but on the edges of survival, his gift of propane is all that prevents them from falling off.The propane is little salve for most of their problems, like the loneliness and the boredom, the mental disorders and the substance abuse. Yet when the minister, Steven A. Brigham, called out, “Are you home?” a tent flap quickly unzipped to reveal a man with a teardrop tattoo next to one eye.“I need propane,” said the man, Brett Bartholomew, after they caught up for a minute. “I’m down to my last two tanks. I’m using them now.”

It is a ritual Mr. Brigham performs several times a week — more when the temperature drops — in a kind of propane ministry he has built since 2003 that now serves 44 homeless men and women scattered in nine encampments in the Ocean County communities of Lakewood and two neighboring towns on the Jersey Shore.

Mr. Brigham, who started working with the homeless six years ago, gave the Mexicans a communal tent, where they sit together and eat meals they make in a giant turkey cooker. A dozen yards away, through littered undergrowth, there is a shantytown of black residents, who have lived in the wilderness for years.

The four people who live under the power lines are white. Ronnie Banks, who is black, used to live there, but after being taunted with a racial epithet, he moved to Mr. Bartholomew’s camp.

Mr. Banks, a recovering addict, said he had served time in prison for dealing drugs. His tent is, in the ramshackle, patchwork world of the camps, nearly spotless. There are teddy bears on his bed and pink carnations next to it. He said he was close with his 13 children; one daughter works just down the road. His tent sits alone, at the opposite end of a rise that allows him and Mr. Bartholomew to watch over the path that leads to their homes.

The woods around them are filled with trash. Residents of the homes nearby complain about their presence. “This is the safest place for me right now,” Mr. Banks said.

(…)

THIS is what ministering to the homeless means!

Winter is coming, It is already cold,

Soon to be Cold to the Bone.

Please volunteer somewhere!

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