149.“A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan.”

Homeless Man sleeping on a bench in North Seattle…Photo by Wanderingvet

Dear Friends and Wanderingvets:

I know it has been a while since I have written to you but admit to the fact that the numbers of Homeless and Homeless Veterans that I have been meeting of late have taken their toll on my spirit. Everyday it seems that while walking carrying the items donated by the “Friends of Wanderingvet” I see new faces along my traveled routes. Unfortunately as I see new faces, adding to those I see on my rounds… and it is disheartening.

“A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan.”

– T. Boone Pickens

I heard Mr. Pickens use this line the on the Glen Beck Program . That comment initiated a line of thought that delved into the problems that Municipalities have with dealing with their increasing homeless populations as well as the Federal Agencies charged with oversight and providing aid and guidance…

“Thirty years ago, we didn’t have a homeless problem. In the late 1970’s,
mental health patients were deinstitutionalized and the responsibility
of care shifted to local government — as an “unfunded mandate” — and
homelessness then became an issue.” http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/stories/2006/01/09/editorial4.html

While reading some congressional testimony Dated 7 March 2007 the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) in Testimony with HUD and the VA mentioned that when Homeless Veterans finish time in the Compensated Work Therapy Program / Therapeutic Residence Program (the TRP is a transitional housing program) stated that after a homeless veteran finishes the program, he or she still has not a place to live. Also, the Homeless Veteran has to pay a subsidy to live in the Therapeutic Residence Program.

“In 1991, as part of P.L. 102-54, the Veterans Housing, Memorial Affairs, and
Technical Amendments Act, Congress added the Therapeutic Transitional Housing
component to the CWT program. The purpose of the program is to provide housing
to participants in the CWT program who have mental illnesses or chronic substance
abuse disorders and who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Although the law initially provided that both the VA itself or private nonprofit organizations, through
contracts with the VA, could operate housing, the law was subsequently changed so
that only the VA now owns and operates housing.

The housing is transitional up to 12 months and veterans who reside there receive supportive services.
As of September 2006, the VA operated 66 transitional housing facilities with 520 beds.

– Congressional Report Service, Order Code RL34024, Veterans and Homelessness

Testimony of Pete Dougherty, Director, Homeless Veterans Programs, Department of Veterans Affairs, House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, 110th Cong., March 7, 2007 (hereafter, “March 7, 2007 Testimony of Pete Dougherty”).

In summation when Mr. Dougherty was asked about the lack of Permanent Housing for Homeless Veterans when they completed the CWT and no longer qualified for Therapeutic Transitional Housing, he said that the VA was not interested in operating Permanent Housing for Homeless Veterans. Mr. Dougherty then said that is more HUD’s bailiwick, and that HUD should be responsible for permanent housing for Homeless Veterans. Mr. Dougherty then promptly redirected the question to a representative from HUD.

Mr. Dougherty was also questioned about Dental Care for Homeless Veterans. He stated that 9 million dollars was directed for Homeless Veterans. That means at 195,000 Homeless Veterans were eligible for approximately $46.15 of Dental Care. Of course the Veteran had to find a bed in one of the 520 that the VA has. Since those 520 beds are booked for 12 months by a single Veteran for a year, this means that a lot of that 9 million dollars goes unused annually and I imagine is gladly shuffled into other VA programs at the end of the Fiscal Year. Either that, or 520 Homeless Veterans are receiving over $17,000.00 of dental work a piece.

After reading how the VA deftly passed the buck on the permanent housing issue, I can only surmise that Homeless Veterans and all of the Homeless are suffering due to lack of a plan at any level. On the local level they are looking for guidance and on a national level there seems to be lack of guidance or a plan only an unfunded mandate.

I also have been thinking about how in this testimony, The VA and other agencies still hammer away that 40% of the Homeless Veterans are Vietnam Veterans. Other than using data from HUD that included losing over 35% of the surveyed data, and claiming that homelessness among Veterans fell by 20% due to the fact that World War II and Korean War Vets are passing away is baffling to me. Since the last World War I Veterans number just 2 now, the VA cannot add them to the statistics they feel. An interesting statistic then would be that the majority of the Homeless Veterans have arrived since the 1980’s and onward, and a large portion would then be coming from Gulf War and War on Terror Veterans. The VA emphatically states that only 300 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans have been identified as homeless, with a little over 1,000 at risk of homelessness.

The VA Medical System states that out over 4,400,000 Veterans have been discharged since 2002. http://www.ncmedicaljournal.com/jan-feb-08/goldberg.pdf Recently the VA is yet again under fire for mis diagnosing or under diagnosing mental illness and playing yet again with our Veterans mental health. Using this as a point of context, I am having difficulty believing the only 300 number of OIF / OEF Veterans on the streets of this nation. There is not a single person at the VA who can reinvent the wheel. So the practice of “under” or “mis” diagnosing to reduce pensions, claims and to dismiss Veterans outright is not a new idea, and has been around for years.

So with the local governments given little guidance, an unfunded mandate, and failure to plan or even the desire to aid, they continue to look toward the federal government. The VA and HUD do not want to deal with the issue in the slightest, as they have managed to aptly mismanage through lack of common sense nor do they even try to initiate and discharge a plan to carry out a Mandate currently overseen by our Democratic led Congressional Brainiacs that have a lower Approval rating (19%) than the Republican President (37%) that they love to hammer on.

In between 2007 and now in 2008 there have been over 1.5 million final foreclosures with over 900,000 in the first 4 months of 2008! There is not an accurate method of counting rental evictions in this country, Ohio is one state where the state Supreme Court maintains eviction rates through calls to the lower level courts. In 2005 Ohio had a total of 110,000 Evictions (rental and homeowner) vs a National final foreclosure rate of 500,000 as a comparison for that year. Including the rental evictions, Ohio would have had 1/3 of the foreclosure rate showing that rental eviction is also being ignored and should be seriously counted in the housing foreclosure / eviction crisis. HUD says that Homelessness has remained Neutral the last ten years in this country. These numbers taken together show this is an impossibility.

Regardless, the failure in all of the above is that there is not a single soul that has been tasked with reducing homelessness in America. I have yet to see an action plan from a community other than “Ship them to the next city or town…”

Right now we need a good hearted Fool with a plan because we definitely cannot find a genius with one.



1 Response to “149.“A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan.””

  1. May 23, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.
    – Mark Twain –

    Again, you’ve shown that our elected leadership should be ashamed of themselves for the despicable fashion in which they treat those who require the most help.

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