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tv   America Tonight  Al Jazeera  January 23, 2016 2:30am-3:01am EST

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new golden age for documentary films on the al jazeera website you can keep up-to-date with all the day's big stories and background as well, aljazeera.com >> good evening and welcome to "america tonight." i'm lisa fletcher for joie chen, who is on assignment. in the nation's fastest growing city australian, texas where more than 100,000 have moved in, in just the last five
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years, the housing crisis is growing especially acute for low income residents. and now there's growing concern that the ploddest shelter they do have may be targeted for profit. "america tonight's" christof putzel explains why. >> roberto and margarita sanchez love to throw a party. it's good times like this that help keep their close knit community together. for decades, the north lamar mobile home park has been a home for many latino families most of them immigrants .
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tucked hind car dealership behind a freeway, the north lamar park is one of the last affordable communities in australian. austin. like many high technical cities austin is booming, more than 100 people move here every day. gentrification can can be seen everywhere and the housing market is tight. last year a company called rv horizons bought lamar, first was to raise the rent. many own their residences but not the land blow them. what did your contract say?
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>> now the rent has been risen to 450, and on top of that, fees imposed, add that all up and the sanchezs are looking at $800 a month. >> you used to pay $350 a month and now you pay $810 a month. this is more than you were expecting. othe sanchezs came to the united states from mexico, for them north lamar has been a springboard to a better life for their children. one is now a firearm. one attending the university of texas. two more are still in high school.
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when several residents of north lamar refused to pay the new amount they found a notice on their door. come up with the money in 72 hours or face eviction. can you tell me a little bit about what it is you do? >> sure. we own and operate mobile home parks which on its simplest is a piece of land with one or two
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mobile homes on it. >> he and his partner aren't your average landlords. they are a new breed of real estate mogul. one of the largest group of mobile home owners in the country. >> i found it was more lucrative, i bought another and another and another and fast-forward to today. >> reporter: mobile home parks have made ralph and his business partner rich. since getting into the business in the 1990s they have become multimillionaires. investors like them have bought up mobile home parks across the country, hoping to cash in. many feel this wave of real estate speculation will force them out of their homes. ralph admits he raises rents on about 70% of parks, the money goes to property improvements with north lamar being a typical example.
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he also imposes a new code of conduct for residents. >> we call it no pain no stay no play no stay, if you don't play by the rules of the park and if you don't pay your rent, you have to go. we don't say let's evict him and him and him. a lot of residents if you don't have rules they go crazy because they have no bounds. >> he was once quoted saying, owning a mobile home park is like owning a waffle house, with everyone chained to the booths. mobile homes are not that mobile, they cost up to $5,000 to move a trailer. >> the customers can't leave. >> in an apartment you just run off. in this business you don't. because you own your home. >> what would you say to somebody who thinks that the business that you're in preys on some of the poorest people in the country? >> sure. i would say that, you know,
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payday lenders pawn shops, those prey on people. most everyone in our properties loves being here. so they're happy. so we can't be preying on them because they love it. >> can you sympathize with one of your tenants who has been living a certain way and paying a certain rent in their community for a long time and suddenly the rent hikes and they can't pay? >> i can sympathize with them, due to the fact they are getting a phenomenal ride for all that time. a free gift from the owner of several hundred dollars a month. >> that's the way you look at i? >> that's the way you have to look at it because that's the fact.
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>> alleging that their existing leases were broken the residents of north lamar decided to fight back. they formed a residents association with roberta becoming robertobecoming president. the reason they are fighting, 70 families who live here in the north lamar mobile home park have scored a victory. ralph has decided to hold off changing any more leases or
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evictions, making sure he is not secluding them illegally. but the sanchezs and their neighbors are already planning their next move, hoping to form a tenants cooperative and buy the park themselves. ralph said he's happy to sell the park, get the residents off his hands. bus just month ago, where they thought they would lose their homes, it's worth celebrating. christof putzel, al jazeera, austin. >> next on "america tonight," thinking small to end a big problem. i'm in nashville with some of the people at the forefront of rethinking homelessness.
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and later, life imitating art? taking cues from a sit come. how some women are finding alternatives to living alone. >> "inside story" takes you beyond the headlines, beyond the quick cuts, beyond the soundbites. we're giving you a deeper dive into the stories that are making our world what it is.
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in some of america's high-growth studies, homelessness has taken on new meaning. more people these days who simply can't afford the rent. take nashville tennessee, exploding rents have left residents locked out. but a new approach, thinking small. they call it the sanctuary.
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a cluster of tiny homes for the homeless. >> wow, this is actually really nice. >> yes. >> no doubt it's small just six by ten feet but for guys likes need. >> how much has a place like this helped you get back on your feet? >> yeah, it's really helped me lot. >> these micro-homes in downtown nashville are part of a growing trend, a short term solution to get people off the streets. >> mentally toss it make it easier to set your goals and to move on when you come home at night to a little home? >> yeah, it's -- you know come home your privacy, gives you time to you know think on the next step of thing you want to do. >> reporter: it's estimated that on any given day there are more than 600,000 homeless in the united states. the city of nashville counts roughly 2300 people within its
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borders but local organizations say think the actual number is three times higher. peter has been on the streets most of his life. >> we all have some kind of an issue. >> we spent this chilly night around the camp fire he shares with others at the sanctuary. >> what is it like to have the key to your own house? >> it's great. knowing you can lock it up and it's going to be there when you come back.. >> more a place to get out of the rain. a door that locks, a small porch and neighbors, comes security and peace of mind. >> is it home? >> for now, yes. it's a step up in progression onto my own housing. >> how important is community? >> very important. you know, everybody has got to have some kind of a support group. i have friends, and they help me
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stay pretty much stable. >> reporter: so how did this tiny community come to exist? its roots go back to 2011. peter and the others live on a lot owned by the green street church of christ. green street has long provided services, shelter and food to the homeless. but according to dee con caleb pickering it was time to do more. >> somebody who had been here a good bit needed a safer place to camp. and so they asked if they could set up a tent behind that. >> behind that storage thing? >> storage container. >> what started as one tent quickly became 30 and the sanctuary was born. a few years later, reverend jeff carr stumbled upon the green creek church.
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>> i stumble out, it said sanctuary. i see a yard full of tents and i said, wow, this is it. >> carr says he knew he was meant to partner with green street to fulfill a dream born out of personal experience. the loss of his home during the mortgage crisis. >> my mother-in-law let us stay in her attic, two rooms. three people, baby on the way. and i just felt robbed of all my dignity and i said that if i ever got out of that situation i would do whatever i could to make sure that if somebody else was in need, they wouldn't have that feeling. >> carr offered to build six tiny homes for those living at green street. he even committed to living on a meteorologic row-home until he could raise the $50,000 needed to build the project. >> it's about 2:50 a.m. on my first night i'm going to try to take a nap.
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>> checking in at day 35, 38 at the microhome. >> and he had his money. >> behold the village rises. >> on august 21st, 2015 carr led a caravan of the finished homes through flashville on thei through nashville on theirway t. >> we're thankful to you. >> despite that, the need in nashville remains great, whether it's in a tiny home or on the streets, the big issue is the lack of affordable housing. ingary mcintire and lindsay cranks work for the organization, open table nashville. danny alexander, not lucky enough to land a home at green street but grateful for the food
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and assistance that they provide. >> you're beat up, what happened? >> i really don't know. i was walk down the road and i woke up and the ems is picking me up. >> really frustrating. it's hard sometimes to get up in the morning knowing that that's like what you're up against. >> is it getting better, getting worse? >> um, the housing piece i feel is getting worse in nashville. >> yeah? >> because affordable housing we don't have anymore. there's like 700 people in nashville with section 8 vouchers that don't have a place they can use them. >> ingrid and her organization are now working on another community of small homes. building on the ideas that sprung from green street. as for carr and pickering, they're hoping to raise more money so everybody at green street can have a home. right now, a lottery determines
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who gets a house. but it is stories like that, of kenyan immigrant moses, that keeps them going. >> this place it's like heaven for some of us. here you have privacy, there's people that bring food. >> moses came to nashville to finish his pharmacy degree but after his roommates moved out he couldn't afford the rent and found himself living in his car. >> it's got to be frustrating, being an educated man who has so much potential and then because of circumstance you found yourself homeless. >> i'm glad i'm at the end of the tunnel and i can see the light. that's the main thing what drives me and keeps me going. >> do you think you've been given a gift to be able to live here? >> yes, because if i wasn't here i would be the rooming-out thing or sleeping under a bridge. people die out there. i've got a few more years to
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live, i don't want to go yet. >> next, giving thanks to friends, modern day golden girls and a shift in the way many look
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>> welcome back. we're all looking for ways to live longer and better but many americans may be missing a simple solution. national studies estimate more than 10 million older americans live alone and research shows it can be harmful to their health. "america tonight" looks at how some women are embracing the golden girls lifestyle and it's change their lives. betty white turned 94 going strong maybe she was onto something.
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here is adam may with a group of women following in her footsteps. >> thank you for being a friend ♪ >> that familiar tune from the hit show golden girls fits just as well at this home outside portland, oregon. in their 60s, michelle fiasca andeen i.t. cohand enid cohn are group that never age. >> i call her the wife that never ages. she likes to cook and clean and garden. >> and you can afford your house. >> yes. >> how big of a component is that? >> i think that's huge. particularly when people come to the age where they are retired, they are on a fixed income and then you know the house payment becomes that much more of a weight for them to bear. this is a form that we hand out at the --
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>> fiasca believes in the shared house concept so much, she started a business with a house match makers. along with enid, they help seniors looking for a place to live and oftentimes companionship. >> what's the real benefit for them? >> the financial factor obviously but there is also that social factor that ready made social circle like the golden girls idea, where let's create a housemate situation that has fun in it and that we'll do fun things together. but i think that there's also you know the isolation issue that comes as we age. as we age, living by ourselves is not healthy for us mentally. mentally.loneliness is a huge factor in people's decline. >> if you were a character on
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the show which one would you be? >> i'm dorothy. >> dry sense of humor? >> oh yes, i did have a blanchee one time. >> oh my god dorothy why didn't you tell me this before? >> she had her ups and downs and her dramas. >> senior housing movements stretches across the country. bonnie moore opened her home in suburban washington, d.c. to four other women. >> where did this idea come from? >> it was necessity. my husband and i bought this house in 2003 and we remodeled and sometimes remodeling causes divorce. so that's what happened. and suddenly, i had my dream house, i mean, this gorgeous kitchen and all these wonderful things. and i was living here alone and the recession hit, the value just went like this.
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and i says what do i do? and i at any time want to walk away from it. and i tried to figure out what i could do to keep my house. and i said roommates are in my future. >> moore's experience inspired her to start the golden girls network a web based business that also tries to help senior roommates and provide a blood pressure blueprint for others. >> what's the upside to this? >> having friends that i live with. i walk in the door and somebody says, how was your day? i say oh god it was awful, or most fabulous thing happened today, i had someone to talk to. >> in the middle of the chat charlie johnson showed up, the newest roommate. >> i'm adam. glad to meet you. >> happy to meet you. >> how long were you in the process? >> about six weeks or so.
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>> okay, have you ever lived in a group of ladies like this before? >> college. >> college? >> that's the last time i ever had this many roommates. >> what do you think it's going to be like? >> college. >> like college, yes. >> and like college, charlie unloaded her car. and moved into her new room. >> could you give me an idea of some of the basic rules that you have set for your roommates? >> one of the things that i stress is that we are sharing a house. this is not a rooming house. you know, we do expect people to participate, and i want people to feel like it's their home and they're not just renting a room. so you're going to have this shelf right here and we all share this and then this is your shelf here. >> moore believes in running an organized home. each roommate gets a section of the refrigerator and kitchen cupboards. there's a light chore list and
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bills must be paid promptly. >> have you made mistakes in the people that you've brought in this house? >> yes. what i find, and the story i tell is, you always have the first month is always great. it's the honeymoon. the second month is when you start to see what some of the issues are. >> so it's not for everyone you've found. >> no. but we're up to the challenge. >> after all it's not all chitchat and difference. sometimes a golden girl needs to put on her landlord hat. >> have you ever had a roommate that didn't pay the bill? >> um -- yes, i have. >> what do you do about that? >> well, in this particular case this woman was actually a genius at buying clothes secondhand. so she bought my wardrobe. and i paid for her rent here. so -- and that worked until i had a full closet. and then, you know, she moved
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on. so -- >> look at him! >> michelle says she's much happier with enid. they're going on half a year together and still laughing. >> do you guys sit down and share a cheesecake like on the golden girls? >> we don't eat that much cheesecake but we like a good glass of wine. >> adam may, al jazeera, portland, oregon. >> that is the show. tell us what you think on aljazeera.com/americatonight. we're on facebook and twitter. come back, we'll have more of "america tonight," tomorrow. >> our american story is written everyday. it's not always pretty, but it's real... and we show you like no-one else can. this is our american story. this is america tonight.
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tunisia's president warns that outside forces could be driving the protests in his country. also to come on the program more claims that russia's air strikes in syria are killing civilians. >> the country's heart is breaking for the people of la loche and saskatchewan today canada's prime minister tries to comfort his nation after a rare mass shooting.