Tag Archives: shelter

Meeting with Police Chief Fruitful

Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn and Zone Commander Marty Ferrell met with Oldtimer and with homeless advocate Jeff Straka, both of Macland Presbyterian Church,  today on neutral ground, the Atlanta Bread Company.

Left to right:  Commander Marty Ferrell, Chief of Police Dan Flynn,  Jeff Straka

(photo by Oldtimer, not shown)

The hour long meeting over coffee was very fruitful, with both sides coming away feeling quite good about the progress made in reducing the tension over the homeless situation.   The chief seemed very interested in addressing the homeless problems in a caring and proactive manner and not only listened to what we had to say, but offered suggestions of his own that did not involve harsh treatment of the homeless.

I offered the chief details of the shelter shortage for emergency shelter, tansitional and supportive housing and he was a bit taken aback as to how needful this area is for more homeless support.   I also gave him talleys from 211 call records that showed there were more than 2000 calls last year seeking shelter and transitional housing in our community.  Jeff gave him a book to read on homeless and he agreed to read it. 

He agreed that the recent homeless sweeps were the result of perhaps only 3 or 4 individuals that had been involved in serious criminal activity along with a more visible presence of the homeless in recent months.   All of that raised the level of complaints to the point that they felt they had to take action, but that the vast majority of the affected homeless were not involved in criminal activity, but just caught in the middle.  

He assured us that the police would not in the future make any general comments about the homeless that might cast them in a bad light, or lump them into the same category as those causing the problems.    He realizes the need for treatment for substance abuse and mental illness among the homeless, but does not have a solution for it.

We all agreed that criminals that may be hiding among the homeless should be rooted out and dealt with.  The Chief did say that they would concentrate on solving specific crimes involving the homeless and resolving specific complaints and not target those who merely happen to be homeless.  He assured us that his officers will show compassion to those that are not otherwise breaking the law.   He asked Jeff and I to call him or Commander Ferrell anytime we felt that the police had mistreated the homeless and they would investigate it.

The police will still have to respond to complaints, but did accept our suggestion that homeless advocates be alerted prior to any future sweeps and allow advocates to accompany them and collect tents and personal belongings and transport them to storage for the affected homeless to pick up rather than haul it to the dump.  I had suggested that we would look into how we might implement it.

He proposed a possible program similar to one in Savannah where he had been chief before coming to Marietta, one in which a person or team assigned by the police would be proactive in case work for the homeless that they encounter as the result of complaints (where no criminal activity is involved).  The caseworker would help locate needed services for the homeless rather than just run them off or put them in jail overnight.  He suggested that such a program would pursue stronger punishment for the ones that commit more serious offences and more leniency for those merely complained about that not involved in criminal activity.  He suggested that such a program might help many get off the streets.

Jeff proposed that our chuch establish an educational forum on the homeless for the community at large, including service providers, other churches, police and homeless within the community to address these problems.  The chief said they would attend as long as they were productive and not “shouting matches,” something we would not have allowed anyway.  Jeff is looking into bringing guests from other cities that have successfully addresed these problems.

I suggested a particular job program for the homeless that would require some cooperation from the police and the chief seemed very receptive but did not think they could help fund it.  More on that later if we can get it off the ground.

Jeff in his special shirt 

Oldtimer 

    

Ministering to the Homeless 6

Church opens its doors, heart for homeless to keep warm 

By Chris Green
ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR
(originally posted Feb 11, 2007, no longer in print – see below for an update and another link)  You can find a copy of the original here
ROCKFORD — The thermostat in the sanctuary at First Christian Church is set at a toasty 75 degrees. The only thing warmer Tuesday in the tiny house of worship was homemade chicken soup and the hearts of those who served it, the Revs. Alphonzo and Barbara Heath. 

The husband and wife pastors have opened up the doors of their southwest side church at 325 Heath St. to serve as an impromptu warming center and 24-hour, seven-days-a-week shelter for the homeless. 

 Barbara Heath said local weather reports last week on the evening news predicting the current spell of sub-zero temperatures prompted the church to start the fledgling ministry.

“When I was looking at the news, they said the temperatures were going to be life threatening. I said, ‘We don’t have enough places for people to go to in the city.’ I told my husband, ‘We’re opening the church.’ I just felt it’s our responsibility.” 

Coinciding with the arrival of the arctic blast Sunday, the Heaths not only have welcomed the homeless, they are feeding them breakfast, lunch and dinner. In between meals, fruit, coffee and tea is available.  All is provided with funds from the 25-member congregation, outside donations and the Heaths’ own pockets.

In the basement of the church, a small kitchen is where the smell of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, vegetables and other nightly meals have originated and lofted throughout the 1,100-square-foot building. The basement also is where large squares of cardboard have been taped together, spread on the floor and topped with blankets on which the guests may sleep.  In another corner of the basement, those same guests congregate during the day to watch TV, play cards and read magazines.

“A local business owner/Christian brought two checks, one for $100 and one for $150,” she said. “Somebody gave my husband $60 and another person gave $40.” More moving than the monetary donations were the offerings from a woman who learned of the church’s shelter and brought blankets. “And you know what? She took her coat off and left it, too,” Heath said.

Word about the church opening its doors spread through Rockford, a city of around 150,000. The announcement was an answered prayer for one man in the congregation. After worship ended, he told Barbara he had no place to live, as of that day.  “He stayed, and he’s been there ever since,” she said.  
  
The local newspaper ran an article on Feb. 7. Two television stations featured the church in local news segments.   First Christian is now sheltering up to 20 people each night and feeding 60-70 during the day. Some families who have homes but no water due to frozen pipes come to the church for dinner. Others arrive during the day to get warm, and then go back to other shelters at night.
Oldtimer’s comment:  While sleeping on cardboard is hardly luxury living, it is warm and safe.  These people would have been sleeping behind buildings in the snow without these accommodations.   Since this story is a year old already, I’ve looked for an update to see what is happening.   Here are some related Good News!


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ROCKFORD ILL.   Ivy Mims wasn’t sure what she was going to do for Thanksgiving dinner.Mims, who works two jobs and is working toward becoming a registered nurse, said her busy schedule and tight budget usually mean a baloney sandwich or TV dinner for eats.

Things weren’t going to be too different this Thanksgiving.    While traveling down State Street in downtown Rockford with Joseph Diaz, she on foot and he in his wheelchair, they got a pleasant surprise – a sleek black limousine pulled up next to them offering a ride and a good meal. 

Quincy Heath, owner of Heath Limousine, picked up nearly 40 people on Thursday to give them a luxury ride to First Christian Church, 325 Heath St., for a free meal.   (Oldtimer’s note: Quincy is Alphonzo’s brother)

Mims, who is Diaz’s personal assistant, said she didn’t know anything about the free meal but quickly found out Heath was for real.

Heath picked up passengers from the Rockford Rescue Mission, bus stops and other locations in town. Many were homeless or poor, others just might not be able to scrape up enough cash or time to cook a quality meal. Heath and First Christian Church gave them a chance to get a little first-class treatment.

“A lot of people don’t have and they don’t know what it is like to have,” Heath said.

For years, pastors Barbara and Alphonzo Heath had quiet family dinners on Thanksgiving, but for the last two years, they wanted to branch out.

“Melannie Boston, who moved gingerly on a swollen ankle, had fallen on hard times. She and fiance Richard Bockewitz are living paycheck to paycheck and constantly on the move, finding different places to stay.

“They let us have luxury for just one day; it was nice,” Boston said. “They care enough to take time from their family to help us here.”

This is What Ministering to the Homeless and Needy Means!

Shelters take many vets of Iraq, Afghan wars

Shelters take many vets of Iraq, Afghan wars

Excerpts from a Boston Globe Article By Anna Badkhen,

As more troops return from deployments, social workers and advocates expect the number of the homeless to increase, flooding the nation’s veterans’ shelters, which are already overwhelmed by homeless veterans from other wars.

No one keeps track of how many of the 750,000 troops who have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001 are homeless. 

Peter Dougherty, director of homeless programs for the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, said 300 veterans of these conflicts have asked the agency for help finding shelter in the last 30 months.

“It’s a major problem that’s not going away anytime soon,” said Cheryl Beversdorf, director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans in Washington.  Beversdorf’s agency has helped 1,200 homeless veterans of the current wars.

This reflects only a fraction of the total number of homeless Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, said Amy Fairweather, who works with Iraq war veterans at Swords to Plowshares, a private organization based in San Francisco that assists veterans. Last year, her agency’s five shelters in California helped 250 such veterans, she said.

Oldtimer”s comment:  Read the entire article and find out what is really happening to our returning heroes.

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

Click here for all homeless veteran posts 

Stand Down – Faith Hope Love Charity

I received an invitation from Stand Down FHLC, Inc. that I would like to pass on to you.

their logoStand Down FHLC, Inc operates out of Palm Springs, Florida.   It was founded in 1994 and opened its doors in 2000.  

Stand Down FHLC  is a multi tiered program that assists & supports male veterans who are struggling with addiction & have become homeless as a result of that struggle.   More than 800 veterans have received support from their program.

It operates a 15 bed facility dedicated to homeless veterans and provides 30 – 60 days of residence, food, treatment by staff psychologists, and transportation to the nearest VAMC for substance abuse, medical, and dental treatment.
waving flag gif

  Here is their invitation:

Hold the Date:  

Saturday November 10, 2007

Faith*Hope*Love*Charity, Inc.

presents its first Preeminent

“Take Flight Award Banquet”

 Honoring our Military (Past & Present) 

Crown Plaza – West Palm Beach

1601 Belvedere Road

West Palm Beach, FL 33406  

Meet and Greet Distinguished & Celebrity Guests

 Incredible Silent Auction

Exquisite cuisine

Fantastic Entertainment

Contact Dr. Crockett Or Ms. Rainford

For Additional Information

(561) 968-1612 ext. 13/10  or at Ccrockett@standown.org. 

This is how you minister to Heroes

Click for All homeless Veteran Posts

“Houseless and Homeless Not Same Thing”

Houseless and Homeless Same?  Not exactly. 

Many think so, but they are different and overlap.   Many think that if you have a roof over your head – housed that is (shelter, rooming house, somebody’s couch) then you are not homeless.   They think you are homeless only if you live outside, on the streets.  They are wrong. 

If you don’t get the difference, think about it until you do.  Read the words of the homeless veteran below and see if anything clicks.   The old saying, “home  is where the heart is” is quite valid and true.  Just because a homeless person is in shelter or sleeping on a friend’s couch, or living in a cheap motel, doesn’t mean he or she is not still homeless. 

They may be housed and homeless at the same time.  This is a big issue and a terribly sore spot with the homeless.  To them there is a world of difference; almost fighting words!   There are homeless veterans and houseless veterans, two different levels of homeless, but don’t say that someone housed cannot be homeless.  The houseless veteran is one that sleeps in a doorway or back alley or along some creek bank somewhere.   The homeless veteran covers that and also the housed that cannot make a home out of their accomidations.

Definition

From Wikipedia:  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines the term “homeless” or “homeless individual or homeless person” as — (1) an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and (2) an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is: A) supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill); B) an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or C) a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodations for human beings.

Definition 1) covers the unhoused homeless and 2) covers the housed homeless.  There are others, including those living in cars, campers, paid motel rooms/flop houses, rooming houses, bus terminals, transit cars, and couch surfing that kind of blur whether they are covered at all or included in C). 

Most homeless census counts do not count the homeless that are able to score time in a motel or hotel as homeless, although usually they get that brief stay for only a few days or a week.  Most homeless census counts also do not count homeless in transit (those at bus or train stations or actually in transit), even though some live in the metro transit systems for years.   The result is an undercount. 

 Comment from a Homeless Vet in Ohio on homeless and houseless:

From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: homeless
One entry found for homeless.
Function: adjective
: having no home or permanent place of residence
– home·less·ness noun

 “Today, my mother and I had the “homeless” conversation for the first time ever. It was terribly brief. I had mentioned having spent the last year as a homeless veteran. She said that I have never been homeless — I was staying with [my last host] until I moved into her house.  I told her that being homeless and being houseless are not the same thing.  She said she didn’t have time to discuss it and walked away.

“Yes, there was a roof over my head and there is still a roof over my head at her house; however, it was crystal clear from the moment I was told that I could move in — both places — that I was allowed to stay for a while, transient, short term, not permanent or anything close to it. I was permitted a temporary stay in someone else’s home, permitted to “make myself at home”, but never permitted to make the home my home.

“It was clear from day one — this is temporary, it had better not last very long, or a day will arrive when my belongings are moved out for me.  My last host placed them safely covered and well hidden (from the road) on his front porch. “

(Oldtimer’s note, he was recently moved out – van loaded up and transported elsewhere by his parents – wore out his welcome – their home was not his home and he was homeless even there – housed homeless in his parent’s home.)

Maybe some people really do have to be homeless for a while to understand that houseless and homeless are not the same thing. “Houseless” and “homeless” frequently overlap, but they are not interchangeable synonyms, not at all.  No, my mother really has zero clue what spending a year without a place where I was welcome to stay permanently has done to my psyche.  “Coming back” from this might be a little easier if my family had the slightest clue where I “went”.  Yeah, I think it is going to take me a while.”

Elsewhere in his blog he says this: “Housed-homeless”, it seems like such a strange concept, but there’s probably more of us “couch surfing” veterans than anyone is counting as “officially” homeless .

He has an interesting blog.  Go visit.

Click here for All Homeless Veteran Articles

Common Myths About Youth Homelessness

Myth: IT’S FUN. Youth on the street may say it is completely their choice to be homeless. They may say they just want to hang with their friends. This is a good way to maintain dignity or avoid talking about personal issues. When trust is built with someone who is really able to provide help, the stories of sexual abuse, abandonment, and other trauma invariably come out. Life on the streets is anything but fun. It is a constant looking over your shoulder, guarding all your belongings from theft, looking for food, dry clothing and shelter, and continually feeling insults and nasty looks from passers by.

Myth: MOST ARE RUNAWAYS Many youth run away from home, and many runaway reports are filed with the police. Few of those runaways stay out for more than one or two nights and fewer still become homeless. Only 2-8% of youth served in homeless youth shelters have a runaway report filed on them.

Myth: YOUTH DON’T WANT SERVICES. Most youth do want help.  They want to have a normal life, go to school, start a career, develop relationships.  They just don’t know how with the limited resources available to them.  Many services are difficult or impossible to access without a parent’s signature, proper identification, medical insurance, etc. Others have long waiting lists.

Waiting lists are difficult to use when the youth are moving around each night. Many homeless youth are distrustful of adults and social services.  As much as they want a better life, they may be afraid to engage in services or cynical about the likelihood of getting real help. They have been let down a lot. But if trust can be slowly built, most do engage in services when they are available, and often do very well.

The above items were found on the Seattle Human Services Website.

Oldtimer’s Comment:  Click for all Homeless Youth articles