10
Mar
08

129. You can only be homeless 90 days a year

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Dear Friends and Wanderingvets:

I must stand to be corrected. It was not Senator Akaka that fired the first shot on March 7th, 2008 regarding the reduction in Homeless Veterans. It just so happened to be Secretary of the Veterans Affairs, (LTG ret.) Dr. James Peake on March 6th, telling us about how his agency saved 40,000 Homeless Veterans.

Dr. Peake made this statement while accepting the gavel to lead the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. This is a joint council of many U.S. government agencies that have some form of impact or deal with homelessness in some fashion. It is amazing to me that Dr. Peake made this announcement about the success of the VA in managing its Homeless Veterans with Secretary Jackson from HUD in the room. Remember, it is Secretary Jackson’s agency’s faulty report that has lead to Secretary Peake’s outrageous statement.

And what a Statement it truly is! Imagine being one of 40,000 Homeless Veterans that day unknowing that you are no longer homeless and sleeping under bridges, on the streets or in the shelters. Oh what joy!

Imagine to my surprise even, with Senator Akaka, and all of the news media parroting Secretary Peake’s great announcement, that there is neither a report filed on the VA website, nor hearings scheduled in front of the Senate or Congressional Veterans Affairs Committees to report this great triumph came about?

That the news media, who in the past has written a few thousand articles regarding the new waves of Homeless Veterans returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom even reported on this without question or some rancor is astonishing. That the media is not asking for some proof as to how this was accomplished and decided to swallow this one line statement from these cabinet members?

The VA had not changed their statistics on their web site since 2004’s data change to 195,000. Yet on March 6, 2008 upon their stating there is only 154,000 Homeless Veterans in America, they changed it for the first time in nearly four years. They have not posted any link to any report or memo stating how they have come to their surprise assumption or success. I am assuming it was an inter-office memo since it had managed to make its way into the Office of Homeless Dentistry Newsletter.

Since the VA had decided to use the 2007 Annual Homeless Assessment Report from HUD which is seriously flawed, according to the notes from HUD pertaining to the veterans and disability notes data. As well as the fact that there were limited areas surveyed. The fact that the VA is now claiming that there is not a relation between service in Vietnam and homelessness though the older generations of veterans are dying rapidly now and there are many articles that are searchable as how many homeless veterans in their 60’s rough living or in shelters.  Neither HUD nor the VA claim to maintain mortality rates on Homeless Veterans. Coroners claim they too do not keep up with this statistic since it is hard to tell if someone is homeless.

According to the AHAR the following is a glimmer of what was reported:

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The AHAR fails to state from which of the Continuum of Cares 80 sample sites the data was missing from. Imagine that Homelessness is in only 80 areas! The percentage missing veterans was actually 35% of over 704,146 sheltered homeless or they missed records on over 246,451 people. Not a small number at all! And out of those, 55% or 387,280 they missed if they had a disability. So the above also said if you were a Disabled Veteran, you were double screwed by their accounting methods.

It is rather absurd that the VA will not count Homeless Veterans that check into its own Hospitals or Veterans Centers. The VA will not count Homeless Veterans reported to them by state agencies through their own CHALENG agencies is also rather absurd. That the VA contends rather that the best way to count Homeless Veterans is through HUD counting them at homeless shelters over a 90 day period through January to April 1 of every year is sheer idiocy. The fact that it clearly states the Unsheltered Homeless that we all see and most complain about, and cities try to drive out of sight are not even counted in the whole report! This is also saying that Homeless Veterans being registered through Operation Stand Downs and other programs are not being counted at all by the VA, even though they are seeing these veterans with their own eyes.

In a time of rising foreclosure rates, during the AHAR, there were a startling high number of former homeowners reporting into homeless shelters. Something that is to be considered is that foreclosures and rental evictions do go hand in hand. For every foreclosure there are 6 times the rental evictions. They are not all going into the streets but many are showing up at shelters according to the AHAR.

If a high school student turned in a report listing over 30% errors here and 55% errors there and another 18% further on, I would wonder why bother grading it. I on the other hand wonder even why Congress would accept such a report or why a Cabinet Secretary of a United States Government agency would proudly say he was happy to present it to congress? Or announce this as reducing Veteran Homelessness? Especially after what the Taxpayers spent for this pile of erroneous data. It was accounting like this that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was established to prevent. It was established to uphold a standard that the government enforces on business and industry but is not enforcing on itself.

The true values of this report is to show what needs to be learned to conduct a survey, or to use as kindling for an unsheltered homeless veteran’s campfire.

Wanderingvet

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