tv America Tonight Al Jazeera March 4, 2016 9:30pm-10:01pm EST
>> photos photos photo♪ ♪ ♪ >> thanks for joining us on "america tonight." i'm joie chen. what we want for our most fragile elderly or others who need nursing home care is a safe and healthy environment but too often we've seen that ends up not being the case where care homes end up being anything bupt. nobut. add to that, funds that end up being redirected to projects that in no way protect those most vulnerable patients. it is an outrage and a tragedy
that "america tonight's" sheila macvicar investigated in florida. >> when the palms of sebring created what he called loving homes for its residents, the state gave $12003 million, that came from a special trust fund intended to improve care for failuressing home residents. how did the for profit nursing home in south florida spend it? not on extra staff or better housekeeping but on a redecorating spree that included chandeliers, clear fronded refrigerators. >> it borders on malfeasance. not holding accountable using this money. >> brian lee is executive director of the nonprofit families for better care in tallahassee. he says the trust fund has underwritten a number of
building projects. >> you see nursing homes that are building verandas, gazebos, sidewalks, jogging trails, fish ponds. that, to me, smells of a capital improvement project because it's adding value to the nursing home. and those are permanent fixtures and placements. >> i don't see how it hems in the care of residents. >> it doesn't help in the care of residents. >> federal regulators agree. the palms of sebring is rated below average by medicare. far from creating loving home environments, last year, inspectors cited the palms of sebring for failing to treat its residents with dignity and respect. and since 2012, the nursing home has paid $71,000 in federal fines for health violations. in 2005, florida law makeers createlawmaker,created the quale
improvement trust fund. according to the law, the program is supposed to relate directly to the improvement of care for residents. not the capital improvement of properties. since then, the state has given nursing homes more than $3 million. often for renovations and decorating. meanwhile, nearly every one in 6 florida nursing homes, 118 in all, is on the state watch list as not meeting minimum standards for care. >> he died a terrible death, he suffered, i seen that with my own eyes and i hate to see that. >> debbie dalmer's father was known as chief white cloud. after he went to a nursing home, he had terrible bed sources,
lost weight, 32 pounds in eight weeks, and broke both soldiers . >> when he walked out of here, bed sores, dehydration. >> when george died, the family sued and after a five year legal battle the jury award he the family more than $700,000 in punitive damages from the nursing home. that's when the family learned more about the state trust fund. they were required to give more than half the award, more than $350,000 to the florida state agency that administered the fund. >> 50% for hear health care
administration. >> did you know that 50% -- >> no? no. >> in fact the law specifies that juries should not be told how the money is divided. the dahmers check went to this state agency which use he punitive damages like those awarded them, to endow the trust fund. >> i find it kind of odd that families who are being awarded a sum of money because of the neglect or the treatment that a loved one received in a nursing home then have to turn around to give money back to the state which then gives it to a nursing home. >> yeah. it's really an abottom inflation that's occurring. >> lee cites several examples of what he considering the misuse of the trust fund. more than $176,000, the nursing home's grant calls for neighborhood kitchens including $81,000 for tables. $20,000 for curtains.
and $10,000 for a putt putt golf area. and then in orlando, the terra advice santa rehabilitation center received $126,000 for a breakfast nook and a sports bar area. yet in 2014 federal investigators fined terra vista, for failing to provide personal hygiene for their patients. the money was supposed to go for special assistance for staff and helping address special needs of residents. >> those who asked the questions can't get answers because it's so shrouded by the agency. >> lee is the former nursing home ombudsman for the state of florida. while in office he tried to get to the bottom of how nursing homes were using the trust fund
money. >> one of the nursing homes we deliberately planned to visit was a nursing home that was listed as receiving an allocation of near $28,000 to purchase a bread maker, crock pot, to build a snack wall, which shouldn't cost that much money. so we wanted to look for those things. we expected to see a crock pot full of soup or some good stew. we expected to smell the aroma of some nice baked bread walking in the nursing home. >> what did you find? >> we walked in, the doors opened and we were bowled over by the smell of urine and feces. it was terrible. >> we contacted the nurses involved in the story but none agreed to speak with us. in a statement, florida's health care system defended the grants saying under its rules, funds may be used to improve quality of resident life. it added during the past
decade.recipients had built renovated dining areas and golf courses, all these goals improve resident care an quality of life beyond the minimum standards. >> "america tonight's" sheila macvicar is with us tonight. it seems part of the goal is transparency, where does this money go and who gets it? >> that's right, we asked to sit down with the agency responsible for giving out these funds. not only did they decline to give us an interview, when we asked them to provide us with their transaction reports, which should be money in money out money in money out, we were told it would cost more than $1,000 to have them prepare that document for us. >> so that didn't happen. let's talk though about how this money has been used. i suppose there are people who would argue, why shouldn't you have a chandelier for a nursing home, why shouldn't you create a
more pleasant environment for shows who are taken care of. >> absolutely but we are talking about for profit nursing homes, but whether you're looking for a putt putt golf course or a better looking dining room, go to the owner's betterment. if it really does help the residents. >> if the residents in fact have better care. >> and that's what this fund is supposed to be all about. it's supposed to be about providing better care, more training, nor training for staff. and instead what it's going to most often are capital improvements like chandeliers, like fish ponds, like putt putt golf courses which in and of themselves are not next a bad thing. but clearly as the federal government has found repeatedly when they go back and reevaluate these places after the grants have been awarded after the money has been spent, after the
chand leerchandeliers have been, there are still health care violations and that's where the money is not making a difference. this is a fund of millions of dollars. it really could make a difference to residents of florida nursing homes. >> to protect them in some way better. "america tonight's" sheila macvicar, thank you. next here we shift from the abuse of the system by care homes to a bid to provide safe haven from a tiny way. later, some of the most vulnerable americans seeking shelter, american teenagers trying to find their way to home on their own. in the other america.
photos >> now we take a look at seeking shelter and some of the approaches to finding it in some of america's high growth cities. homelessness has taken on new meaning. more people these days who simply cannot afford the rent. take nashville, tennessee. maintain's lisa fletcher found homeless advocates taking a influence approach, thinking small. >> reporter: they call it the sanctuary. a cluster of tiny homes for the homeless. wow. this is actually really nice. >> yes. >> reporter: no doubt it's
small just six by ten feet but for guys like charles it's pleating a big need. how much has a place like this helped you get back on your feet? >> yeah, it's really helped me a lot. >> these micro-homes in downtown nashville are part of a growing national trend, a short term solution to get people off the streets. >> mentally does it make it easier to set your goals and to move on when you can come home at night to a little home? >> yes, it -- you know, come home, your privacy, gives you time on the next step of things 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 borders. but local organization he think the number is nearly three -- organizations think the number is nearly three times higher.
60-year-old peter suffers from bipolar disorder. he's been on the streets most of his life. >> we all have some kind of issue. >> we spend the night around the community camp fire. >> what is it like to have your own place? >> it's great, you can lock up and know it's going to be there when you come back. >> for peter? it's a door that locks, a small porch, with thraibs, security and peace of mind. >> is it home? >> for now, a step up 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 stay pretty much stable. >> there's something about -- >> so how did that 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 last long provided services, shelter, and food, to the homeless. but according to deacon caleb pickering, with laws criminalizing sleeping in public spaces it was time to do more. >> somebody that had been here a good bit needed a safer place to camp 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 street church. >> i see this fence it says the sanctuary and i says what is that? i got out of my car and i saw 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 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 in a microhome until he could raise the $50,000 needed to finish project. >> it's about 2:50 at night on my first night and i'm trying to take a nap. >> after 45 days he had his money. >> behold: the village. rises!
>> on august 21st, 2015, carr led a car caravan of finished hs through nashville, on green street. >> everybody on go fund me you played this an amazing journey and we are thankful. >> despite that the need in nashville is great. whether it's homeless in the sanctuary or on the streets, the big issue is lack of affordable housing. >> this is what most camps look like gl. >> ingrid and lindsay works for the organization open table nashville. they help guys like danny alexander, not lucky enough to land a place at green street but grateful for the food and medical assistance that ingrid and lindsay provide. >> what happened? >> i really don't know.
i was walk down galison road and all i remember, emergency services are picking me up. >> is it getting better, worse? >> the housing piece i feel is getting worse in nashville. i mean 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 that three can use them. >> ingrid and her organization are now working on another community of small homes, building on the good ideas that sprung from green street. as for carr and pickering they're hoping to raise money so everyone on green street can have a microhome. at the moment, a lottery determines who gets a house. it's the story of kenyan immigrant moses that keep them
going. >> this place it's like heaven to some of us. because here you've got privacy. there's people that bring food. >> moses came to nash stroil finisville tofinish his pharmacd after his roommates moved out, he couldn't afford the rent and ended up living in his car. >> bawbbecause of circumstance,u found yourself homeless. >> i can see the end of the tunnel. that's what drives me, keeps me going. >> do you think you've been given a gift being able to live here? >> yes, because if i wasn't living here, i would be like everybody else, rooming-in or sleeping under the bridge. people die out there. i've got a few years to live, i'm not ready to go yet. >> "america tonight's" lisa fletcher, next we move to people
you. >> we've heard throughout this program about seeking safe shelter and like row communities. now consider the challenge faced by homeless teenagers left to find their own way in the streets in the other america. in rural america, a woman's rough start in life has not stopped her desire to find a better future. >> i would describe maine as
just cold. traditional living choice not meant for long term. some people come in here they're basically ostray dog. they come in long enough to get their wounds healed and then they leave. i've been here for three months. the first time i lived in new beginnings i was 15. >> a lot of people here are homeless because of family conflict, they're being asked to leave their homes and have never benbeen part. >> my mother should have never had custody of me let alone my sisters. they just pick me up in the morning and i go to school, usually just listen to the radio whatever they have on and read. i have no other way to get to school. my school actually set it up so i have transportation, because i qualify under the mckinley act of homeless youth.
last year, for that i have never been through a full year of school. i moved around too much and didn't want to go to school. it was just frustrating having to do like all this stuff and worry about where i was going to live the next day. nobody at school knew what my situation was, i kept it that way, i didn't want them to know. >> okay so -- >> in this one, in this one, in this one. >> so -- >> i'm ready when you are. >> having teachers that understand are the biggest problem, especially if you're homeless you really need people to understand, and this school supports that more. >> so can you estimate what the log of 3 would be? >> as soon as i came in here, like i had got along really well with thornton and realize she really does help. >> before she was withdrawn, she would sit and read and hair would be down and kind of
isolated because she had been to so many schools and didn't have her roots and thousand that she's in here she's laughing she's smiling she's joking doing great in her classes, passing, a traditional student gets six classes a year, i think last year she got ten. knowing that sabrina was going through issues at home before she weighed to move out it allows me to be more understanding. so when a student walks in the door and instead of me saying you're late for class, why you have late for class? i can say did you have a rough night at home? there's 504 students in school. poland is the biggest town some we don't have a street light, no stoplight, a flashing red light but no stoplight. >> there are some cities like boston new york, some inner cities, there are issues with homeless youth. as you go further into the rural
areas i think there's less awareness. >> i believe it says 350. >> 450. >> everybody takes turns doing different anchors. every day, rotating schedule. so right now, sabrina has the cooking duty. so she will cook the dinner. >> i'm pretty sure i'll be perfectly fine moving in on my own. i know how to, this is just reminding me. so it's not really a big difference to me. >> i did grow up faster when i moved out, learned that the world doesn't owe you anything. but for some reason a lot of people think like the world owes you something. you deserve this, you deserve that. you don't. >> many times the youth here are victims. they've been victims of multiple types of abuse at times and even if that happened at a younger age it might have happened ten years ago.
that's going to stay with them. >> i stopped living with my mom when i was seven. i moved in with my dad and my step mom. >> a lot of times it does affect when they hit the teen years and the guardians don't know where it came from and they're not sure what to do with the young person and things fall apart. >> very definitely i chose to leave. my dad wouldn't be willing to have me live with him again, nor did i want to live with him again. i made sure when i left. nothing my dad or my step mom did, because they are really good parents. i wasn't a good kid, i just didn't care. >> these kids want good lives. they just need someone to come pay attention to them and give structure. it's important to give programs that are available for youth because it gives them time and a safe place to be. they know they're safe and
someone who cares for them. helping them move forward. >> i definitely learned at a, the people who help the other ones you should let help you because they really want to help. they wouldn't be offering to help if they couldn't. >> i love this series, such a good author. >> i'm excited to graduate because i'll finally be like away from everything. it will definitely be like worth it. i think it's going to open every opportunity with me. you can do so much more with a high school diploma than without one. get a job easier, go to college if i wanted, everything i wanted to do, all these doors will be open with that one piece. now that i graduate from high school i might -- probably will end up going into the military at some point, probably one year later, i want a year of restrictions, without rules, being me, i don't know what i want to so yet, i'll figure out some way,.
>> that's rita kilpatrick, make her way. that's it for tonight. we'll have more of "america tonight," tomorrow. >> corruption scandal. >> i felt like i was treated lie a prisoner even with the courteous treatment by the police. >> a wide investigation into corruption tied to brazil's state owned oil company. between hope and fear. >> translator: women are even stopping to bargain about the price.