by Terry Richards

Los Angeles County, CA alone in round numbers has about 11% of the Nation’s estimated 2011 count of 74,000 Homeless Veterans, so designating in round numbers 900 Vouchers (11.4%) is reasonable.

Congress also appropriated funds for Grant Per Diem (About $40 per day per Veteran) for Homeless Veterans Transitional Housing Programs at VA Domiciliaries and non-profit agencies like the Salvation Army’s Haven, New Directions, Vet-To- Vet, U.S. Vets, Cabrillo, and the Ballington Plaza, Weingart, and Rush Hotels/Motels (All three located in “skid-row”), and all which are located in Los Angeles County.

According to William L. Daniels, Chief of the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare system and its Homeless Programs, there are currently about 3,200 Homeless Veterans in these transitional housing programs/Grant Per Diems including the two aforementioned Domiciliaries. Since Veterans in these transitional programs are still technically homeless until they obtain permanent housing, that still leaves 10,000 Veterans who are homeless in Los Angeles, but because of the 3,200 in transitional housing only 6800 are living on the streets of Los Angeles assuming these figures are correct???

The Obama Administration has set its goal for zero (0) homeless Veterans by 2015 but in Los Angeles at least, even if the homeless population remains status quo and Vouchers were increased to 1,000 per fiscal year, it would still take 10-years or until 2022 to obtain Housing for the current homeless Veterans population of Los Angeles.

But the homeless Veterans dilemma does not end with Permanent Housing because according to statistics from the “Housing First Initiative” 19% of Tenant-Veterans or non-Veterans (there are no separate statistics for just Veterans) who had substance abuse issues are evicted from their HUD Housing rentals due to either non-payment of their very, very low rent (30% of their income), or for Misconduct such as disorderly conduct, disorderly intoxication, other Breaches of the Peace, al of which usually stem from lack of social skills and/or relapsing back into the use of drugs and/or alcohol, or in some cases gambling and sex addictions, at which time most of those Veterans will reenter the same VA Homeless Program for a second, third, fourth or fifth time or more before being reissued another HUD-VASH Voucher. However, this Writer believes that the rates of recidivism could be somewhat higher among Veterans for a number of reasons…

So why could the recidivism rate among homeless Veterans be higher after Programming at VA Rehabilitation facilities and VA Grant Per Diems???

The biggest reason is that they house Veterans in Transitional-Temporary Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Programs which goes against the “Housing First Initiative” proven Paradigm which offers Tenants to attend these Programs on an out-patient basis only if they want to.

In Los Angeles only about 10% of the 10,000 Homeless Veterans will receive a HUD-VASH Housing Voucher because Congress only Grants 7,000-10,000 of these Vouchers annually and so about 3,200 of these homeless Veterans are shifted from Grant Per Diem to Grant Per Diem or back to the VA Domiciliary, and therefore, feeling that the Government does not care about them and that they will never provide them with Permanent Housing which then leaves them with feelings of HOPELESSNESS…

2. Another reason is that some Veterans in these Programs lack social skills and are not taught how to act in society, especially those Veterans who served 5, 10, 15, or 20-years or more in prison and have now been court ordered to these programs as a condition of release and/or Veterans who have spent that same amount of time living on the street homeless. A program to teach social skills should also be done on an outpatient basis.

Although I am grateful that I received my HUD-VASH Voucher on August 03, 2012 and obtained housing on October 06, 2012 after spending 61/2 months from March 28 to October 12, 2012 in the West Los Angeles VA Domiciliary in the BACK TO PRODUCTIVITY TRACK I am still concerned about my fellow Veterans who have not recieved their Vouchers.

I am also specifically concerned about the lack of programs for low-income Senior Veterans like myself who also suffer from Severe Spinal Stenosis, Cluster Headaches, and Major Depressive Disorder who do not have and have never had substance abuse problems and who strictly need admission to VA Homeless Veterans Programs to obtain HUD-VASH Section 8 which in 2012-2013 dictates that 35% of HUD-VASH Voucher can be allocated to Veterans who are NOT the most chronically ill and most vulnerable. There is also HUD-SENIOR HOUSING  in which the rent like in the HUD-VASH Program is about 30% of income.

Additionally, about several months ago, the gentleman who runs the Community Integration Program (CIP) for the Salvation Army’s Haven Program located WLA VAMC was invited to speak at our Community Meeting in an effort to advise Veteran-Patients on our Track of alternative but much more expensive private Affordable(?) Housing averaging about $675 per month instead of $275 which is about the average cost of HUD-VASH Housing to Veterans based upon 30% of their income. And even though Salvation Army pays their first, last and security deposit and gives them free furniture to get them into regular “affordable(?)” private housing rental units, Veterans have substanitally less disposable income then they would have had with HUD-VASH to enjoy just some of the simple things in life such as just going to a movie, eating-out ocassionally, dating, etc, and this kind of lifestyle can also be a “TRIGGER” FOR RELAPSE into old habits of substance abuse, gambling or sex addictions.

Moreover, several months ago I also observed and smelled 2-Veteran Patients from the Salvation Army’s Haven Programs’ (2nd and 3rd floor) smoking Marijuana at a local coffee house. I could not understand how they took the risk when they were subject to UA (Urine Analysis) Testing like myself and fellow Veterans were subjected to up to 5-days per week at the Domiciliary. Then I inquired with other Veterans who resided in those Salvation Army Programs and it revealed that the Salvation Army’s Haven Program has big problems in that they do not perform UA (Urinalysis for drugs and alchol) more than 2-times per month on average. And the same goes for Breatherlizer testing. I reported this incident to William L. Daniels who later assured me that the problem had been resolved and they are performing UA and Breatherlizer testing often and on a regular basis like the Domiciliary. However, just a few weeks ago I made the same inquiries to other Veteran staying there and they told me nothing has changed in that UA and Breatherlizer tests are still only occasionally performed.

SO WHAT’S THE SHORT AND LONG-TERM ANSWER AND SOLUTION WHEN HUD-VASH OR OTHER AFFORDABLE LOW-COST HOUSING IS NOT AVAILABLE TO HOMELESS VETERANS???

1. LONGEVITY: Minimum of 12-18 month substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation programs and HUD-VASH Independent Housing. If Veterans can stay sober that long, chances of relapse are substantially less.

2. SOCIAL SKILLS: Applied Social Skill Classes to learn the expected acceptable behavior and decorum landlords and tenants expect from other tenants, and the acceptable behavior restaurant management and guests, etc., expect from other guests, etc., etc., etc… There should be Staff monitors patrolLing all areas of the premises to remind some of the Veterans, especially those recently out of Prison or having lived homeless on the street for years and years, that it is not acceptable to yell and scream “motherfucken this, and motherfucken that in the dining room and in areas where Veteran-Patients invite there friends and family, and that Perpetrating this type of behavior in a restaurant or apartment complex will get them evicted from both.

3. THE GOD FACTOR:

The Proselytizing of Veterans in Homeless Programs including mandatory programming classes at the WLA VA Domiciliary, the Salvation Army, Vet to vet, and New Directions and any other similar type VA/Government Funded Programs must cease and desist. Most Veteran-Patients told me they don’t like being proselytized, and the one’s who act like they do only do it to satisfy and avoid being harassed by their facilitators and/or other staff or their peers who have become indoctrinated. Veterans in these programs told me that once they leave these programs GOD is not a factor as to whether they relapse or not…

4. MORE VOUCHERS: We need 10,000 HUD-VASH Vouchers not 800 for 10,000 homeless Veterans in Los Angeles County.

5. CONCLUSION: As far as permanent housing goes for Veterans, a survey taken by me of over 100 Veteran-Patients at the Domiciliary and Haven Programs and “skid-row” revealed that 80% of Veterans do not want to their permanent residence to be on VA or other Government Property. William L. Daniels advised me that he and the VA had the same 8o% figure. So building permanent residences on VA or other Government Property is not the answer for permanent housing for Veterans.

RELATED STORY BELOW WAS ORIGINALLY PART OF THIS STORY BUT WAS INCONGRUENT SO AUTOR MADE IT INTO 2-STORIES. Reading the related story below will help you more fully understand the above story you just read:

Veterans in VA Homeless Programs being Lied to about Housing Vouchers https://vnsla.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/veteransliedto/

WE SUGGEST THAT AFTER YOU READ THE SOURCES THAT YOU READ THE RELATED STORIES BELOW IN THE ORDER THEY ARE LISTED

SOURCES

Mercer Story http://www.merceralliance.org/pdf/5_Yr_Plan.pdf

Nicholas Pleace and Joanne Bretherton “Will Paradigm Drift Stop Housing First
from Ending Homelessness? Categorising and Critically Assessing the Housing
First Movement from a Social Policy Perspective” Paper given at Social Policy
in an Unequal World: Joint Annual Conference of the East Asian Social Policy
Research Network (EASP) and the United Kingdom Social Policy Association (SPA)
University of York, United Kingdom, July 16th-18th 2012
http://www.york.ac.uk/media/chp/documents/2006/NPJB-EASP-SPA-2012.pdf

Proof Independent Private ‘supported housing’ approach will End Veteran Homelessness, Not Building Veterans Homes!!! – Part 1 of a Series

https://vnsla.com/2013/01/07/housingfirstpart1/

Proof Independent Private ‘supported housing’ approach will end Veteran Homelessness, Not Building Veterans Homes!!! – Part 2 of a Series  https://vnsla.com/2013/01/08/housingfirstpart2/

Proof Independent Private ‘supported housing’ approach will end Veteran Homelessness, Not Building Veterans Homes!!! – Part 3 of a Series   https://vnsla.com/2013/01/27/va300m/

Veterans in VA Homeless Programs being lied to about Housing Vouchers!!!                                       https://vnsla.com/2012/11/10/veteransliedto/

940 homeless Veterans must suffer while nonprofits battle over housing voucher contract                                                      https://vnsla.com/2012/12/17/940homelessvetssuffer/

“Sole VA Contract to Path is not acting in the best interest of most Chronically Vulnerable Disabled Homeless Veterans” says OPCC              https://vnsla.com/2013/03/23/opcconpathcontract/

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