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tv   Ali Velshi on Target  Al Jazeera  January 2, 2016 6:30am-7:01am EST

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renovations, costing 2 million. the president was there for the grand reopening. the occasion celebrated with a performance by the cuban national ballet more to be found on our website. there it is on your screen aljazeera.com. let's get those who fought so bravely for america off the street and 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.
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nearly 50,000 men and women who served their country are living without a roof over their heads. it's a situation that many americans find shameful. some experts say the real number of homeless veterans is about twice that figure, 100,000. whatever the number, the experts agree it's about 11% of all homeless adults, but here is the good news. the fish estimate of homeless veterans is down by a third from 2010. tonight i am going to look at how america is trying to eliminate homelessness among veterans entirely and the obstacles it faces. the obama administration have helped. the efforts have jumped from about 2.4 billion dollars in 2008 to 7 billion dollars in the fiscal year. here
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is how michelle obama explained why it makes economic sense in cities to ends this. recent studies have shown that 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. the cost to give someone a home of their own is only about $20,000 the first lady was helping promote the president's goal of ending homelessness by veterans by the end of 2015. in some cities they have already met the goal, but it remains out of reach for other cities. the l.a. region has the largest concentration of homeless veterans in the united states, more than four thousand people. l.a. mayor backed off his among pledge to get every homeless
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veteran off the streets by 2015. some advocates say deadlines are not what matters most in addressing veteran homelessness. it is making sure that federal state and local officials are united in addressing the problem. even them veterans who are homeless on the home front face a lack of affordable housing and bureaucracy that many can't navigate alone. we went to sacram ento to see how they're being helped i'm usually up between 4.30 and 5 o'clock in the morning. when i wake up i usually have a cigarette and a cup of coffee it's early morning here and temperatures are a summer day are already pushing a hundred degrees, but 63-year-old ron
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knows there's not much chance of escaping the heat. i've been homeless for 16 years now he is one of the country's roughly 50,000 homeless veterans. he said a hip injury on the job left him out of work two decades ago and he has never been able to get back on his feet. for the first time in decades he has found hope that home will soon mean a roof over his head. outreach worker eddie is part of a national effort to ensure that no homeless veteran will ever live unhoused again. we're in their face. we're giving them hope. right from the get go. we meet an individual. what do you need? that right off the bat builds a trust with them that we're going to do something a military veteran himself scours the city regularly for focus like him. workers who want or need help but who have fallen through the cracks over the years.
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there's no reason that a veteran should ask for something and not receive it especially when it comes to the basics of life: housing food. would need to uphold the dignity and rights of veterans the notion that one homeless veteran is one too many is why president obama in 2010 launched a plan to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. we're not going to stop until every veteran who has defended america has a home in america largely funded by the department of veterans affairs, it is a 7 billion dollar that partners community groups with government agencies. it uses the housing first model. that's the idea of giving permanent housing to the homeless with no strings attached. it's already helped bring the total numbers of homeless
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veterans nationwide down by 33%. was there anything else i can do for you?
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they're helping a lot of folks but not being efficient with that one individual. if you don't focus on the one, you really don't help nobody. on the day that somebody says i'm ready to get off the street, you need to be able to respond he runs steps forward the organization in charge of the city's effort. imprisonment sometimes where we have systems that cause them to wait, you can lose that moment of hope at last count the city had about 30 homeless veterans. they've housed hundreds since january but won't meet the year end deadline. both rue accuratic delays and a-- bureaucratic delays and a lack of housing is the problem. housing is not cheap and it is difficult to acquire those units. there's a certain stigma that is attached to this population. keep yourself going. the majority of time i would stay in an la are ndromat.
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i on wouldn't let anyone know about my situation this man quickly found out just how creep eling the bureaucracy can be when he turned to them for help-- creep eling. -- crippling. it's not going to happen honourably discharged after 16 years of active duty and two tyres in iraq, he moved to become a n.f.l. coach. he was an is assistant coach, but the small remuneration couldn't pay the rent. for four months he was given the run around from the va, and no help in the end it's a spider webs of numbers because they send you all around. nobody is really there for you he eventually found refuge at this fellow vet's house and
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once there he was connected to the site's homeless outreach agency which helped him navigate the va's labyrinth of paperwork when they work together than the va experience. the va's inspector general issued a report last december criticising the department's hot line to help homeless veterans. auditors identified 40,500 missed opportunities to connect veterans to services and over a quarter of calers had to leave messages on the call center's answering machine because counsellors were unavailable to take their cal calls. the va declined to comment for this sphere, but the inspector general said the va was complying with all the recommendations put forth by the report we're moving in the right direction now. we have our own space and that's what's key two months after we first met him, va housing has come through. the apartment is still empty,
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but it's big enough for his entire family to come and live it's great to be out here with them. we've got each other. [ ♪♪ ] meanwhile ron is still waiting for his new home. his partner has moved to a temporary facility and he makes the half-hour walk to visit her daily. how are you?
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apartment i told you about. since we - i can take you there with me, all right? the sports story everyone's talking about. >> don't miss the world exclusive undercover investigation.
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only on al jazeera america.
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once a week i volunteer for a program that aims to tackle one of our society's biggest struggles, homelessness. the number of people living in new york shelters have reached record highs in repeat years. the bigger picture tells a more hopeful story. nationwide the homeless population has been decreasing every year since 2007. the biggest improvements have come alongment chronic homelessness, who repeatedly end up on the street. a lot of the credit belongs to something like the housing first model. it's a program that essentially gives the chronically homeless their own apartments. it started in new york and it has become a nation movement and its pa pop wsh-- hop latter is about the economic value that the program delivers. being out in the street. i hit bottom here you were in this
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neighborhood because there were drugs here?
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who have been out for many, many years years we have people been out for 15/20 years early every morning they seek the streets looking for people sleeping outside. we're with the out reach program the chronically homeless make up roughly 15% of the total homeless population. they're mostly men but some women who have lived on the streets for years. many struggle with mental illness or substance abuse and in the end they're homelessness puts a huge drain on public resources. each person costs taxpayers up to $50,000 onlily in-- annually in social services they used maybe someone called 911 because they're laid out on the street. that's a cost. if they are incarcerated then there's the substance abuse, detox or rehab problems it is said the emergence
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of the housing first model has changed that. it's a program that uses public money to heavily subsubsidise forks the homeless you don't have to be sober to be placed into housing. justify because you need a home makes it so you can get a home critics say this strategy of prioritising housing first before getting clean or addressing mental health issues rewards bad behaviour and could be down right irresponsible, but it has spread to hundreds of communities across the country because quite simply it works. since 2007 the number of chronically homeless in the united states has dropped by half from 180,000 to 90,000. more importantly, it saved money. in new york the cost per homeless person dropped from 40,449 no $24,167.
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that's 16,282 less a year. colorado experienced double the savings from 43,239 down to 11,694. nationwide housing 100,000 chronically homeless americans cut an estimated 1.3 billion dollars a year in costs. i think it's hard to appreciate how transformative housing can be. you see it first in the transformation for these individuals and with regards their own ability to care for themselves and basic hygiene, able to better control any substance use they may have studies have shown housing first programs have reduced social service spending on the homeless by 37% and those savings tend to continue as 80 to 90% of program participants remain in housing a year after being originally placed with little drop-off in the years after. i only used drugs because i had nowhere
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cc had a lot of problems. she was addicted to crack and as a transgendered woman felt unsafe living in city shelters. with the help of cucs she moved into her own participate last summer. my apartment is propped new. i love it. it gives me a spot that-- brand new with a new job at a call center, she is proud to be one of the estimated 30% of housing first participants who end up returning to the workforce. i wanted to be a person in society again, productive. when i first came here, it felt like home she works part-time as an administrative assistant, one of the participants entering. she is studying for computer certification that she hopes will lead to better full-time work. five years clean and sober she has reconnected with her family, including a daughter she hadn't seen for more than two decades.
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i lived in darkness for so long, for a long time. i was out in the street and it was basically hopelessness. now i'm walking in light. i have a lot of ambition and a lot to look forward to not all of america's homeless live in the street. some live in parking lots, in anywhere cars. we will look at ways to help next. >> new moms forced to choose. >> the united states does lag behind other countries on this. >> now a revolution in workers' rights... >> my story is so many peoples' story. >> that could decide the election. >> it can be different.
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we've been talking tonight mainly about homeless people you can see living in the streets, but the great recession created a big group of homeless people. they've been forced to live in their cars. the government doesn't keep records of the so-called vehicular homeless, but we might be seeing a lot of moneys since the great depression ford families. living in your family is not safe, in response new safe parking lots are helping for people to get back any new homes. these parking lots are a visible solution to an off hidden problem, a problem that do not fit our stereo typical image of homelessness >> reporter: just before 6 p.m. as others start to come mute home, theresa heads here. this is our office, way we use. we have a filing cabinet that
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has our paperwork, basic toiletries. we want to ensure that our participants have what they need. she dreams for change and run what is called a safe parking program, running the lots from this church and a youth center theory by. it is a dozen programs and 85 sites long along the west coast to provide the 59% of the homelessness who live in their cars. she started the first one in august 2010 when a new face of homelessness arrived from the great recession. people who were aaccustomed to security and stability and suddenly cast adrift in long-term unemployment they would go down to the shelters and come back in tears saying that's not me. i'm not homeless, i'm just in between right now. what do i do and where do i go? now 76% of those in the report some sort of income but struggle with unemployment or
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jobs that pay just a fraction of what they're used to. just because you're homeless doesn't mean you're not working and you don't want to work. you do because you want the security that you had. >> reporter: 57-year-old catherine williams worked as a receptionist until she was laid off in 200 the. she then-- 2009. she then found work as an librarian assistant. having found this place it made it easesy. the police are gobbling to come along and wake up and get out, go away she said seniors 55 make up one of five in those parked in the lots. another 20% is like this man it is a struggle another day. there are days where it's hard to wake up and want to keep going after 12 years in the marine corp and employment in both gulf
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wars he left the military in may. he is finished a degree in buy mechanical engineering and looking for full-time work but has only landed part-time gigs. that's the reality for a lot of us nowadays. i'm one of many veterans in a situation like this the safe parking program has strict rules. you have to be in by 9 p.m. and out by 7am. zero tolls for alcohol, drugs and violence. you can stay as long as you want provided you continue to work to get back into housing. if anybody had 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 landery spent nine months in the lot. he had depleted a savings job that had once earned him six figures. the kinds of people on the lot with me were professionals, attorneys. there was a nurse.
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if they weren't on my lot, they used to live next-door to me in my house he found work and found his way back into an apartment and brand new car he uses only to drive to his new job. 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 offence, people like you coming here, you don't have to put up with these people more than a thousand miles away in seattle local home owner says a growing population of living in their cars and rvs have created a host of problems they steal from us, drop their trash wherever they want, bring the property value down because who wants to buy a house with a camp ground of america across the street this man helped created the safe parking program last year.
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he says a few bad egs may lurk, but 70% are first time homeless, desperate to get back on their feet we want to have a safe community where we work together, where people can get into housing and employment and live the american dream that we all feel we're justified towards a dream that's psychology strandy forces herself to keep in mind each night that she and her four children crammed in her small sedan. about a week ago i just didn't want to go back to the parking lot to sleep in my car. it was hard, but, you know, hopefully at the end of the line i will have something better to offer my kids. so it's temporary, a long temporary, but it will be over soon since we first aired that report there are now waiting lists to get into the safe parking
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lists in san diego. one reason clues rising rents. here are some updated. catherine williams who was living with their mother in the car has had her health deteriorate. she cycled in and out of the lot between hospital stage. she moved in with a friends where living costs are cheaper. veteran allan left the lot and found housing. this lady with her four kids got xroovd improved for government housing. that's it for us. >> still living in these tent cities. >> we're back to square minus one. >> the city is a powder keg at the moment.
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>> you see transactional sex and no one is held to account for that. >> the united nations has never accepted responsibility for this. >> an ali velshi on target special: >> when i became aware of my surroundings, there was no electricity. it was quiet then. >> the land was wide. no dust. nothing but green grass, tall green grass, so pretty. it used to start freezing,

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