tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera September 15, 2015 5:30am-6:01am EDT
it, al jazeera, pakistan. keep up to date with all the news on our website, al jazeera.com. plenty on our top story there as well as analysis and features, again the address is al jazeera.com. i'm ali velshi. "on target" tonight, homeless on the home front. let's finally solve a shameful problem and get those who fought so for america into stable housing for good. 49,933. that is the government's most recent estimate of how many american veterans are homeless on any given night in this country. that means nearly 50,000 men and women who served their country
are living without a roof over their head. it is a situation that many americans find justifiably shameful and some experts say the real number of homeless veterans is about double this figure. about 101,000. whatever the number, experts agree it is about 11% of all homeless adults. here is the good news, the official estimate is down by a third from 2010 and tonight i'm going to look at how america is trying to eliminate homelessness among americans, and the obstacles id faces. budgets for these department of veteran affairs estimates have jumped from 2.4 billion in 2008 to about 7 billion in the are current fiscal year. here is how first lady michelle
obama explained it, ending homelessness a priority. >> recent studies have shown that just one chronically homeless person can cost communities between 30 to $50,000 per year in emergency room visits, medical bills, law enforcement, for some individuals it can be even higher. but the cost to give someone a home of their own is only about $20,000. >> now the first lady was helping to promote the president's goal of ending homelessness among veterans by 2015, but some remain out of goal. it remains out of the possibility. in los angeles, last month mayor eric garcetti backed off of his pledge to get every homeless veteran off the streets by the
end of this year. but instead its making sure that federal state and local officials are united in addressing the problem. but even then, veterans who are homeless on the home front face serious challenges. they include a lack of affordable housing, a va bureaucracy that many vets can't navigate alone. we went to sacramento, california would to hear the story of homeless vets and the people trying to help them. >> i'm usually uf up between 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning. i have a cigarette and a cup of coffee. >> temperatures on this summer day are already pushing 100° but 63-year-old ron stangler knows there's not much chance to
escape the heat. >> i've been homeless for 16 years now. >> he's one of the country's 50,000 homeless veterans. he said a hip injury on the job left him out of work more than two decades ago and he's never been able to get back on his feet but for the first time in decades he has found hope that home will soon mean a roof over his head. outreach worker eddy yafe did is part of a program where homeless veteran will never be homeless again. >> we give them hope, right off the bat build th builds them with hope. >> yanez a veteran himself scattered showers th scours the city for homeless.
>> there is no reason why a veteran should ask for something and not receive it especially when it comes to the basics of lines, housing food. >> we need to uphold the dignity and rights of every veteran and that includes ending the tragedy of homelessness among veterans. >> the notion that one homeless veteran is one too many is why president obama in 2010 launched a program to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. >> we're not going to stop until every homeless veteran has a home in america. >> it's a $7 billion initiative that partners community groups with government agencies. it uses aggressive outreach in what's called the housing first model. that's the idea of giving permanent housing to the homeless with no strings attached. and it's already helped bring the total numbers of homeless veterans nationwide down by 33%.
>> was there anything else i can do for you? >> you know i want to get out of here as soon as possible. >> stangler has another reason, his partner of ten years has recently hospitalized and can't return to a life outdoors. >> she's got cancer and when i think of her and i'm too old to cry. it's just -- it's very important for me to get a place so she can be with me. because i don't know how much longer she would really have. >> but it's been three months and now a clean sheaf shaven stangler is still without a home. a frustrating amount of red tape. >> they're helping a lot of
folks but at the same time, not being efficient with that one individual. without focusing on one, you really don't help nobody. >> you need to respond to that moment. >> ryan runs sacramento steps forward, the organization in charge of the city saps effort. >> sometimes when you wait you can lose that moment of hope. >> at last count sacramento had about 300 homeless veterans. they've housed hundreds since january but likely won't meet the year end deadline. both bureaucratic delays and lack of affordable housing have made ending veteran homelessness a challenge. >> finding affordable housing isn't cheap and there's a certain stigma attached to this population. >> let's go guys keep it going. >> i would stay at a laundromat or somewhere. i wouldn't
let anybody know what my situation was. >> edward quickly found out what the bureaucracy could be of the veteranveterans administration. >> it's not going to ham. >> honorably discharged in 2014 after 16 years of active duty and three tours in iraq, 39-year-old futch moved to california to pursue his dreams of being an nfl coach. he found work as an assistant coach for a local high school but the small stipend he earned couldn't pay the rent. he went to the local va but for months he was given the run around, offered numbers to call but no real help in the end. >> it is a web of numbers to nowhere. sending you from this person to that person and nobody is really there for you. >> he eventually found refuge at
this tomorrower vet's house. helped him navigate the va's labyrinth of paperwork. >> these guys all work together better than the vai va. >> and futch is not alone. criticizing the department's hot line to help homeless veterans. 47,500 missed opportunities to connect veterans to services and over a quarter of callers had to leave messages on the call center's answering machine because counselors were unavailable to take their calls. the va declined to comment for this story but the inspector general's office said the va was complying with all of the recommendations put forth by the report. >> we're moving in the right direction now. you know we got our own space and that's what's key. >> two months after we first met him futch's va housing is mostly come through.
the apartment is almost empty but his family from g georgia can come live. >> we have each other. >> meanwhile ron stangler is still waiting for his new home. his partner jofna has moved to a temporary facility and he makes the half hour walk to visit her daily. >> hey j. >> i love you. >> i love you too. >> thank you. >> i shaved. >> thank you. >> i got a haircut. let me tell you what's going on with me, all right? you know the apartment i told you about?
as soon as we get it i can take you there with me, all right? >> okay. >> and it's looking like now, maybe 30 more days. all right? >> stangler only hopes jonna stays well enough long enough to come home. >> period of time and then we can be back together. >> i love you. >> i love you baby. >> after watching that you think the first thing we should do is give these veterans a home. coming up i'll talk to a man who >> we're in the "prairie state" yet we have such little of it left. >> now old-school methods meet cutting-edge science... >> we've returned this iconic mammal to illinois. >> with a much bigger long-term benefit. >> grasslands have a critical role in climate change. >> it's exciting. >> techknow's team of experts show you how the miracles of science... >> i'm standing in a tropical windstorm. >> can affect and surprise us. >> wow!
addressing drug or alcohol abuse. but this enables those, according to this expert, he has advocating for transformational campuses, large shelters available around the clock. he travels around the country helping build them. you say it's instead of housing first, it should be housing fourth. given housing is the most stabilizing item in a veteran's life. >> we are not dealing with the root causes. first. if you were to have a heart attack now, would you want us to take you to a gymnasium? no, you would want an emergency group to come the and stabilize you in an emergency room then get you into a fitness program.
that's what housing first does. it doesn't assess the root cause. starts with acute stress down range that doesn't get dealt with then becomes posttraumatic stress, then loss of a job loss of an income and the housing really comes the outcome at the end of a chain of crisis events so we're dealing with the symptoms at the end of the chamber and not addressing the acute stress upfront and a military sexual trauma which is happening with women which is a new evolving issue. that's the root cause not the house. >> posttraumatic stress is something that requires treatment, medication, induce substance abuse, there is a sense of order that doesn't come into one's life if they don't have a home a place to put their medicine a place to sleep safely. there's a lot of research that
indicates that housing is such a stabilizing force in a transformative force that i transforms someone's ability to treat substance abuse. >> i disagree with you. i disagree with the old sheltering model that's not what i promote. think of it if it was a loved one of yours, if they have substance abuse most of the veterans coming out now that's the final end what you're seeing, would you say to a family member tell you what i'm going to get you an apartment and some cash and bus passes. when you are ready for treatment come see me but in the meantime i'm going to keep giving you that. if it was a loved one you would try get that person into a 24-7 treatment program. >> you visited 247 treatment facilities in 12 states, you wrote a book on this, seven
guiding principles of transformation. you know, that this plan is in place in new york city and you know it comes wrapped with a number of other social services. it's not generally a stand alone thing that would just get you a house and we're not going to think about your psychological needs, your medical needs your substance abuse needs your mental health needs. >> well first off that's not totally true if you look at the housing first model. that was the way it was supposed to be designed. but the way it was implemented in most communities those wrap around services are the first things that are getting cut. no financial viability around it. if you take a number low number of your gentleman from the 20,000 in sacramento, to do that for the 500 people there is $10 million. the federal government's not giving that sort of money to local communities.
and local communities can't afford it. especially in places like l.a. south texas beaches in florida, new york that money escalates. the amount of money needed is in the billions of dollars to do that and there's nothing going up for sequestration. >> you're at advantage you know so many more, i only know what happens in this city. the housing first model, the idea that we're dealing with people that are chronically homeless, so the audience knows these are not people who are short term homeless, these are people who are really, really very homeless. this avoids emergency services dealing with -- avoids the police dealing with it. the cost savings in places like new york or denver is demonstrated that it's much more effective. >> and so are they on transformational campuses. transformational campuses are
seeing those exact same savings and in many ways maybe even a little higher success rate. it is significantly lower dollar rate. >> i don't dispute that. >> i was just in new york last week and now we're sort of mixing chronic with veterans with veterans which is the real group that we're trying to -- that the president is talking about if you don't deal with 24-7 treatment whether substance abuse or mental health in a proper treatment facility if you're not dialin dealing with t you're not -- housing going -- >> housing first reintegrates them back into the community, 80 to 90% in the community placed in it stays in it. in the years after, 30% actually end up joining the workforce. i get the distinction between chronically homeless and veterans but there is overlap between the population. >> the question is, is somebody going to come up with enough money?
it's a million and a half dollars for about 80 people for housing first year over year year after year. that becomes the billions of dollars question. so the 7 million doesn't do it. you got oget up to 14, 20, 21 million if you are going to use this as a strategy. >> robert we'll continue this discussion. i'm glad you were here to have it with me. robert marvin is a homeless consultant. >> thank you very much. >> not all live on the streets, some live in their cars in parking lots. >> i kept trying to make him not be a boy... it's not working. >> transgender children. >> i'd sit alone, i'd eat alone, i have no one to talk to. >> some dismiss it as a phase. >> we're trying to pigeon-hole him into "tom boy". >> but is it reallt a crisis? >> when your child wants to die... that's what changes parents. >> meet the families on a life changing journey. >> i finally get to blossom into the beautiful flower i am!
>> we've been talking tonight mainly about homeless people you can see living on the streets. but the great recession created a largely invisible group of homeless. homeless americans forced to live in their cars. the government doesn't keep records of the so-called vehicular homeless. but we may be seeing the most since the great depression's ford families. in response new safe parking lots are cropping up to help people fighting to get back in real homes. as david schuster reported for us these parking lots oar visible solution to an often invisible problem a problem affecting people who don't fit our stereo typical image of homelessness.
>> reporter: just before 6:00 p.m. as others start their commute home from work teresa smith heads towards this unassuming church near san diego. but it's not religion she is after. it's our parking lot. >> this is the file cabinet that has our paperwork, want to make sure our participants have what they need. >> smith and the nonprofit she founded dreams for change, rents a lot from the church and a youth center nearby. it's more than a dozen programs and 85 sites largely along the west coast that provides a safe haven. for those living in their cars. smith started in 2010 when a new face of homelessness emerged from the recession, home isless cast adrift in long term unemployment.
>> they would go down to the shelters come back in tears saying that's not me. i'm not really homeless i'm just in between now. what do i do where do i go? >> now says smith 76% in the lot report some sort of income but struggle with unemployment or jobs that are a ofraction of what they're used to. >> just because you're homeless doesn't mean that you don't want to work, you do, you want the security that you had. >> 57-year-old katherine williams worked as a receptionist until she was laid off in 2009. but a $10,000 salary barely paid for a motel room. >> you park on the side of the street the police are going to come along wake up get out go away away. >> smith says seniors 55 and
over make up one in five parked in the lots. veterans like allen account for another 20%. >> it's a struggle every day and there's days it's hard to just wake up and want to keep going. >> reporter: after 12 years in the marine corps and deployment in both gulf wars, whaley left the military in may. looking for full time work so far he's only landed part time gigs. >> that's the reality we live in for many of us, i'm one of many veterans that are in a situation like this. >> strict rules, you must be in by 9:00 p.m. and out by 7:00 a.m. an agreement to have one on one financial counseling. you can stay as long as you want provided you continue to work to get back into housing. >> if anyone would have told me i was going to be living in my car, i would have laughed and said that's not a possibility.
>> in 2010 kevin landry spent nine months in the lot. unable to find work for two years he had depleted a healthy savings account from a job that once earned him six figures. >> the people on the lot were like me, attorneys and professionals. >> landry finally landed work, found his way back into an apartment and brand-new car he uses only to drive to his new job. but safe parking programs have come under fire from nearby residents concerned about neighborhood safety. dreams for change recently shut down its third lot after repeated community complaints. >> no offense. people like you come in here you don't have to put up with these people. >> more than a thousand miles away some in seattle, frank says, people living in their cars and
rvs have stolen. >> they bring the property value down because who wants to buy a house with a campground of america across the street? >> graham cross helped create seattle's first safe parking program last year. he says some bad eggs may exist but many are ar first time homeless. >> people who need help can get into housing and employment and live the american dream this we all kind of feel we're justified towards. >> a dream that psychologist student melinda escobar, she and her four children spend crammed in her small sedan. >> about a week ago, i just didn't want to come back to the parking lot to sleep in my car. it was hard. but you know, hopefully, at the end of the line i'll have
something pert to offer my kids. -- better to offer my kids. so it's temporary a lot temporary. but it will be over soon. >> since we first aired our report there are now waiting lists to get into the safe parking lots in san diego, some 30 to 70 cars any given night. the cause, rising rents in a tight housing market. here are rents often people living in their cars. katherine williams has had her health deteriorate, she cycled in and out of a lot between hospital stays, veteran allen whaley left the lot shortly after we met him, and found housing through the va. and melinda escobar found housing shortly after. g shortly after.
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