In so many communities we see people, including families with children, involuntarily living - and dying - in cars, encampments, tent cities, and boxes on sidewalks.
We do not see this here in Toledo.
Replacing the emotion of the current debate with logic and fact suggests the only reason we do not see people on the streets here is supply and demand. The supply of shelter beds has equaled the demand for those beds. (Except in the area of domestic violence, where there is a severe shortage.)
By annual physical count we precisely know both the supply and the demand. It is consistently about 1000 people; of which between 35% – 45% are families with children. Multiplied by the implied turnover rate of 2.8 times, about 2800 people per year lose housing and end up in the emergency and transitional shelters.
If you are new to the issue, emergency shelters are for crisis intervention and short term stabilization. They are the landing pads where YOUR children, relatives or friends, or even you will go when one loses housing due to fire, addiction, eviction, foreclosure, domestic violence, or just burnt bridges. Fact is most people in the shelters return to housing in less than 60 days. Transitional shelters are the in-patient houses where you want to send YOUR children, relatives, friends or even you to get sober, clean up, or otherwise get their act together.
The battles you are seeing unfold regarding funding are battles between two lines of thinking:
Housing First: Take all the money from the shelters and put it into rent to get people into apartments as fast as we can, then work on their issues.
Housing Second: A system that puts people FIRST so YOUR child, relative or friend has a safe place to be WHILE they find the expertise to deal with whatever issues they need to get rehoused.
As for Housing First, there is a big difference between theory and practice. Even the VA, which embraced the Housing First model with all of the resources of the federal government at its command, still takes 137 days for our veterans to get housed. And even with that some are referred to a shelter on a transitional basis for help with specific issues before being housed.
So then the questions needing to be asked are: How will they decide which of the 2800 individuals and families with children they will pay rent for? And where will these families go during the 137 days if all the family shelters are closed?
The solution is not one or the other, but rather a balance. But balance is not on the table, they only put de-funding the shelters on the table. I have been a volunteer for this cause for 23 years, and as a CEO and philanthropist provided the startup funding for many programs including the startup funds for the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board. The board was intended to bring the community together like we do with Tent City, not tear it apart. Since 2008, we have seen the gradual increase of pillaging federal funds intended to help those on the streets. These funds have been diverted to fund city departments, CDC’s, development, and this year the Homelessness Board itself. Historically, an objective Citizens Review Committee (CRC) evaluates CDBG proposals and recommends the funding for each. Last year the recommendations of both the CRC and the City of Toledo review committees were abandoned and replaced with a funding scheme of unknown origin or logic.
City Council has courageously stepped in to keep the shelters funded because they saw the injustice of closing the shelters and the extrapolated inevitable outcome of the lack of supply for the demand – people living and dying in camps along the river. Thank you.
One of the best things about doing this kind of work is the people you get to do it with – People who CARE about others. Selfless people united for a cause. We have previously documented the efforts of the team in Operation Houston.
We told you about Dusty & Chuck Hill who begat Kevin Maley, who begat Sheri Henderson, who begat David Rein Henderson, who begat Jacob Walsh, who begat Chris Hernandez. (And a host of others, but for today’s post, this is the string.)
Below is the video to give people a sense of what Veterans Matter is…. and it was the string above who all made it happen. David Rein Henderson is the one who asked “Do you want us to do the video?” He enlisted his video guru Jacob Walsh to handle the video and David used his expertise – 3D graphics – to create the 3D United States opening of the piece. David and Jacob, along with Chris, shot the interviews with Dusty and I during my trip to Houston last month.
Jacob did a great job editing and what you see here is the labor of love, love for our veterans, and love for those on the streets. Thank you all for your compassion. And thank you all for sharing your talent!
There is so much going on that we have not had time to post and update you:
Partners, like LifeLine Toledo and its Mobile Medical bus staffed with volunteers like nurse Kim Warner, collaborate with 1Matters to provide services at Project Connect events.
Remarkable amount of progress.
Referrals from the Houston VA are continuing. Since 12/3 we have now housed 11 veteran families - 11 adults and 7 children.
Dusty and Chuck Hill are convening the formative meeting of the Houston Veterans Matter board on February 5th. This is the group that is going to raise the remaining $100k.
Helping Dusty is this incredible guy named Kevin Maley, CEO of KO Supply. He is a sheer force of compassion himself and is bringing an incredible amount resources together to help not only Houston, but our national effort as well.
One of those assets is his personal assistant, Sheri Henderson who he has temporarily donated to us to help on the admin side. She was re-working our referral form and she suggested we revisit the idea of an online referral system. Son of a gun, with the help of the Toledo (Dena & Shawn) and Houston (Geri) VASH managers we figured a way to address the privacy issue making the creation of a national online referral system allowable under VA guidelines.
Then steps in Main Sequence Technologies. Last Tuesday, the 15th, we contacted the owners and software gurus Marty and Mike Snyder who have been Ken’s day job (CEO of a headhunting firm since 1994) recruiting software vendor since helping them to define and launch their product back in 1996. Their system is a global online ASP/cloud-based contact management software. We wondered if they would/could help us re-purpose and customize their software to our precise needs, for free, and oh yah, at black-ops speed. Of course they said “hell yes,” and we estimated it would take 2 – 4 weeks. They committed one of their finest, Andrew Rothman, to help us. Did we say black-ops? Starting 1/15. by FRIDAY 2/18 he had a working demo model which we paced over the weekend. Revisions and aesthetics happened 2/21 an it was released the same day. Seven days. This whole thing is black ops, baby.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, through this cool guy in Washington named Dr. Josh Bamberger with USICH, this cool lady named Anne Miskey, executive director for Funders Together to End Homelessnesscontacted us. Funders Together coordinates 70 or so local and national foundations to impact the unhoused. This is a group that actually does stuff, rather than more studies, plans, etc. They had been doing this work already in the same space we are, so they called to see if there were ways we can coordinate. We spent the better part of an afternoon on the phone and identified numerous, pretty powerful synergies. She is now going to her board (a pretty impressive lot) and other resources to see if she can help raise some operations funds so we can launch this missile from pilot to national program. Given the resources, national scale could be deployed in less than 1 week. Black Ops, baby!
Anne is also sitting on a steering committee for a group staging a national concert to benefit unhoused veterans. She had the organizer, John McGah, give me a call last Friday. Again, great guy. He has been doing work with the unhoused for a very long time as well. We chatted for an hour and we are certain we have a great fit as far as mission and goals. Stay tuned, their could be a national rock concert helping us make the point, “Veterans Matter – We MUST take care of our own!” ” Black Ops Baby!
One of our volunteers’ favorite events… Cherry Street Mission is working with several local businesses and media to bring Toledo together and clothe the community. Go to their page for more information on drop-off sites for clothing and all the volunteer opportunities!
Just wanted to quickly update the status of Veterans Matter.
Since Promedica approved full funding of the pilot program on Valentine’s Day, 27 unhoused veteran families (34 adults, 11 children) have been housed at an average now of $573.86.
At the press conference with ZZ Top, Shawn Dowling of our local VA’s Healthcare for Homeless Veterans program said Veterans Matter has reduced the amount of time a veteran family is unhoused from an average of 132 days to 71 days.
Speaking of ZZ Top, when they were in Toledo for their concert earlier this month we took Dusty Hill and tour manager Pablo Gamboa to meet some of the formerly unhoused veteran families helped by Veterans Matter. After hearing some of the stories, there was not a dry eye in the house.
Dusty and Pablo were moved enough they gave 30 tickets to the show for the veterans at the clinic.
Dusty and “Chuck” (Charlene) Hill, and Pablo were presented Proclamations from the Mayor’s office thanking them for their support of Veterans Matter.
Dusty, Chuck and the band are forming a Veterans Matter chapter in Houston and want to raise $160,000 to help house Houston Veterans. Several fundraising plans are being initiated, including auctioning off “the band” in time for Christmas. Seriously, Dusty and Billy signed new Fenders and Frank signed a drum head which we will auction off as a package.
Much more going on, but we wanted to give you an update. Onward – Homeward!
All year our partners work to provide for those in need. This is more than 1 weekend. Findlay Project Connect spun off from Tent City. Fellowship Matters spun off from some incredible guys and girls who provide and cook the food each year. County Commissioner Tina Wozniak was at Tent City three years ago, asked “Why do we do this one just weekend? Let’s do it every month.” And she did, she pulled together a team of people and started the Community Asset and Resource Engagement (CARE) Team. Each month for three years it takes much needed services TO the parts of Lucas County in greatest need. In fact Tina will be recognized for her efforts at the start of the walk this evening.
And this year during our meetings with the medical team,Mercy and ProMedica, and UTMC started planning ways they can come together to serve the poor year round.
Point is Tent City is not just 1 weekend, for many, it is the START on a path of service far greater than we know – Life changing impacts on lives, guests AND volunteers. Like former UTMC student, and now Dr. John Pham who came down as a volunteer on Friday and never left until he had to when the last tent came down. Or Michelle Ross, our beloved Michelle Ross, came down friday as a guest, was loved, and five year later with her act together, will again be down there to help others. Or Liz Simon and Shawn Kellerbauer who came to tent city not knowing what to expect, and never left, both are now employed at Cherry Street Mission Ministries.
The start. Sometimes the start of something big.
We hope you will take just ONE hour tonight to help us move our Walk of Compassion from Promenade Park to Tent City, or if not, pledge to support the communities compassion. You can register or pledge right here,
Rain or Shine!
Homelessness is a rain or shine event. It is going to be cold and rainy this weekend, which means YOU will be needed there more than ever.
Come on down Friday or Saturday night for the entertainment. There are always wonderful surprises there.
Our pancake breakfast is Saturday morning, and we close with a 10 am worship service.
We are done talking, today we start walking the walk of Community Compassion, a compassion that is earning our community a national reputation for it’s compassion.
Today several will start on a life changing path because YOU are there. In fact if you are hearing and feeling this now, do come down. We need your help to matter.
But first, let us set the real priority. We are so blessed with the support of so many on the local and national scale. We believe it is because even in these tough times people have “life” happen to them in a way that messes up their world. We all believe it is dead wrong for children to be sleeping in cars, on the streets, or in the shelters. We all believe it is dead wrong that there are over 60,000 unhoused veterans abandoned on the streets of our nation. We also believe we have an obligation as artists, as humans, to give back. Our job is to simply give people the opportunity care so those called to this cause can join us. As the list of artists and others in the music industry supporting our cause gets longer, please remember their ONLY reason is for you to hear about this opportunity tohelp those families, individuals, veterans and children get off the streets and back into housing.
Now… here are those opportunities:
1) The 1Mile Matters prize pool now consists of four packages of 2 tickets and meet-n-greet each for Justin Bieber, ZZ Top, and Carrie Underwood, as well as 2 tickets to The Who’s performance of Quadrophenia. All performances are in November. The top donor/fundraiser for the 1Mile Matters walk will get first pick; 2nd place gets second pick, etc. Deadline will be for all funds collected by noon on Monday, October 29th. Winners will be contacted by Wednesday, October 31st.
2) The Harry Sandler Silent Auction at 20 North Gallery. Like last year it runs during the month of October. The deadline is for bids placed by 4 pm on October 24th. What will be different this year is the registered bidders will be able to place their bids via email. Two ways to register: If you are in town, visit 20th North Gallery at 18 North St. Clair. (If you are from out of town, contact 1Matters for details to register.) Auction items include: A Sandler original image signed by Katy Perry, taken last June at Wembley Stadium, London, England; 2 tickets and meet-n-greet for Justin Bieber; 2 tickets and meet-n-greet for ZZ Top, and 2 tickets and meet-n-greet for Carrie Underwood; 2 tickets to The Who’s performance of Quadrophenia. All performances occur in November. We will occasionally update bids here or on our Facebook page.
We want to thank those who are making this opportunity possible. We would like to thank our board members Bob Merlis and Harry Sandler, along with AEG Live, and of course, the generous artists. Thank you for giving us the ability to matter to more people who matter!
So much going on… Bullet points – click through if you need more info on anything.
Thursday is the Tent City Meeting, info is here. Harry is joining us for the meeting.
Friday night is the Harry Sandler Benefit – we hope you will come out, and we hope you will get some of our friends to come with you. You can get tickets here or at the door. Volunteers wanting to come, contact us – there is a special ticket for volunteers. His landscape work is INCREDIBLE! We are all blown away seeing the pieces so big. Eric Hillenbrand at 20 North Gallery said people will love, love, love and buy his work. Both Harry and Eric are donating all proceeds to 1Matters and our programs. Here is a video of Harry’s work. And don’t forget his iPhoneography 101 workshop.
While we are on artists, our cool friends ZZ Top want to meet the top walker and three guests at their show at the Stranahan, 11/1, three days after Tent City. They gave us another package – 4 tix and a meet & greet – for a raffle; we are putting together details now.
Black Hoody nominations are due by this Friday to be presented at the next October meeting. Post Tent City nominations will be done at the end of TC for presenting at the wrap up meeting 11/8.
The 1Mile Matters walk is 10/26, we will have extensive turnout from the University of Toledo AND Bowling Green State University coming together. Rocky and Rocksy Rocket are committed to come, and we are working on Freddy and Frieda Falcon. You can register for the event right here.
Clothing drive is alive, please collect new or GENTLY used winter (winter only, folks) clothing. They can be dropped off at Cherry Street Missions Lifebridge Center… 3342 Monroe, the old Banner Mattress. Map is here. Can’t make it there? Most fire stations in the ‘burbs have a box. Also, we need help sorting – sign up for dates/times.
Tent City volunteer sign up is open. Click here to sign up. Tent City is 10/26 – 10/28. The 1Mile Matter walk kicks off Tent City.
Urgent message: Critical documents – IDs, birth certificates – are the lifeblood of our society. You cannot do ANYTHING (housing, job, etc.) without one. Not sure if you knew but January 1st, Ohio is implementing the Safe ID program. The new program will make it very, very difficult for anyone without an address to get an ID. VERY difficult. So we are doing all we can to make sure anyone who needs one gets one at Tent City, and until the end of the year. We think we will need about $3,500. If there is anything left over we will either continue the program if we have the ability (volunteer capacity), or give it to United Way 2-1-1 to piggy-back on their program. And we want to thank the City of Toledo Department of Neighborhoods and Lucas County Health Department who are covering the cost of 50 birth certificates. That’s what happens when you bring the community together… Collaboration Leverage.
We are now sorting the clothes needed for Tent City. You can drop off any you have collected at Cherry Street Mission’s Lifebridge Center. 3342 Monroe Street, near Auburn, the old Banner Mattress. Just tell them they are for Tent City.
Today we are launching our national “Veterans Matter – 60,000 Soldiers Housed” campaign. To help promote the campaign, ZZ Top has signed on as our first spokes-peeps. Last month in Detroit we shot a psa released today. shooting the psa for us last month. Besides the psa, they will be promoting the campaign during their upcoming tour starting next month to support their new album “La Futura,” enlisting other musician friends to help with the cause a number of ways, promoting it on their websites and social media, and a couple other little things we are chit-chatting about.
Veterans issues have been something close for the band, and especially close to the hearts of Dusty Hill and his wife, Chuck. (Chuck? Yes, seriously. She rocks! To hear her story add Dusty Hill on Facebook.) They both are “fighting mad” to hear so many of our veterans are on the streets and in the shelters, AND there is something we can do about it to get one more unhoused veteran off the streets, TODAY!
Below is the video and press release which we are releasing to the mainstream press. The band’s publicist Bob Merlis will be releasing it to the music industry.
We want to move fast and get the word out FAST! There are 60,000, yes, 60-freaking-thousand men and women who put our lives on the line who are now on our streets. FAST!
We love giving credit where credit is due. This psa is is the product of a great team of volunteer project.
First props of course go to the band for their gracious southern hospitality. Dusty for shooting with us, Billy for agreeing to help us in the first place, and Frank for letting us use his dressing room to shoot the psa.
Chuck Hill for her enthusiasm and commitment!
Tour manager Pablo Gamboa was remarkably helpful and kind getting all the arrangements made onsite.
The remarkable video production team from Materni Media, Christie andMatt Materni. Great, expert, flawless team of shooters. Did i mention fun too? Thank you for giving up a day of making money to help those on the streets. Check out their great work here.
My wife Norma, the best teleprompter babe in the business.
Bob Merlis, who believes in the cause enough to make all kinds of magic happen!
And of course special props to Barb Petee, and the Promedica Advocacy Fund/Toledo Community Foundation for “Hey Barb, I got an idea called Veterans Matter….” “Hell yah we will fund that!” And they did, in seven days.
Thank you all for giving a rip about those on the streets. , onward – homeward…… ken
ZZ Top Joins Veterans Matter “60,000 Soldiers Housed” Campaign for Homeless Veterans
New Program Has Housed 20 Homeless Veteran Families in 6 Months
Toledo, OH – “It’s really disturbing that nowadays it has somehow become acceptable for American soldiers damaged by the physical or mental trauma of war to be abandoned, forgotten, and left homeless on the streets of our nation. On those streets they have been beaten, robbed and some even killed. If this kind of thing happened behind enemy lines we’d be outraged, says ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill. “Veterans matter and we should and must take care of our own,” notes the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.
The federal government has documented over 60,000 homeless veterans abandoned on the streets and in the shelters of our nation. ZZ Top is helping do something about it by signing on to support and promote “Veterans Matter,” a rapid response pilot program created by 1Matters.org, which has already helped house 20 homeless veteran families in its first six months. 1Matters is a nonprofit, based in Toledo, Ohio, that has the support of singer John Mellencamp and others associated with the music industry.
Veterans Matter was conceived by Ken Leslie, a former homeless person who is founder of 1Matters.org following a conversation with the local coordinator for Healthcare for Homeless Veterans.
“The government has a really effective HUD and VA partnered program (HUD-VASH) which provides housing, case management and other services to unhoused veterans,” Leslie said. “We recognized a major and usually insurmountable barrier to access this housing is the fact that unhoused veterans often do not have jobs or the income to cover the required deposits and first month rent.”
The Veterans Matter pilot program was conceived in February to provide those upfront costs. Because the only access to the program is through the local HUD-VASH case manager, every veteran referred to Veterans Matter has already been pre-screened and preapproved by the VA for the housing voucher, case management, and selected property.
“All we do is write the check to the landlord. This simplicity allows 100% of the money raised to actually help the veteran families. This also guarantees a 100% success rate in getting those veterans housed,” Leslie explained.
Billy F Gibbons, singer and guitarist for ZZ Top, commented, “When we heard about this we were most impressed. We appreciate that this program is it is not one of those feel-good virtual-fundraising-under-veterans-names-programs. They get in, get the job done, and leave.”
Gibbons is referring the program’s public design. As allocations are only matched to the available HUD-VASH vouchers, the amount needed to be raised for each area is limited to the number of vouchers available for that region.
For example for FY 2012, Bridgeport, CT has only ten vouchers allocated. If the average first month/deposit is $750 per voucher, only $7,500 needs to be raised to match those vouchers and get ten veteran families housed.
On the high end is Los Angeles CA, with 800 vouchers. Based on the same example, only $600,000 would be needed to match the local vouchers.
“In my 23 years of working on the issue of homelessness, I have seen groups exploit the unhoused for financial gain. With 100% of the funds going to help the unhoused veteran family and no overhead or operating cost other than writing a check, this program is completely transparent. This not meant to be a massive program; it is, rather, an aggregation of small programs in communities in all 50 states working to get unhoused veterans and their families off the streets and into housing one at a time,” Leslie said.
The local pilot program estimated 35 VASH vouchers for the region and upfront costs of $750 so only $26,250 needed to be raised. The local Promedica Advocacy Fund immediately funded the program. Leslie points out the writing and mailing of 35 checks over a year does not justify staff costs or overhead. The program has already helped 20 veteran families in 11 cities and two states. Four of the veterans have been women, and nearly half have come from the recent OIF/OEF.
Representing the band, Dusty Hill has taped a public service announcement which can be viewed on the Veterans Matter website (veteransmatter.org). The band intends to help promote the “60,000 Soldiers Housed” campaign and Veterans Matter program during their upcoming tour to support the release of LA FUTURA, their first studio album in nine years.
Frank Beard, drummer for the band, said, “We’re happy to do our part to get the word out. We urge our musician friends to help us promote the ‘60,000 Soldiers Housed’ campaign and rally Americans to help get every unhoused veteran housed in their own community. How do you get 60,000 unhoused soldiers off the streets? One at a time.”
For more information contact Bob Merlis at 323.962.6887 or bobmerlis @bobmerlis.com
To view the psa visit VeteransMatter.org
About ZZ Top
Now in its 42nd year of performing and recording with the same line-up, ZZ Top has been recognized as one of the most iconic forces in American rock for just as long. They’ve been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones), have been named Official Heroes of the State of Texas and were recipients the Texas Medal of Arts Award last year and are set to receive the 2012 Classic Rock (UK) Living Legend Award. Their new album, LA FUTURA, will be released on September 11.
1Matters began in 1990 in Toledo, Ohio, as the Homeless Awareness Project (HAP) by formerly homeless-turned-entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist Ken Leslie. The all-volunteer organization grew to become the national advocacy group 1Matters.org after a 2007 visit by singer John Mellencamp to their annual Project Connect Community Collaboration event.
1Matters is a non-profit 501c3 which creates real time collaborative solutions to move unhoused individuals and families into domestic autonomy. Their Project Connect has been expanded to four additional cities; the group has provided start up funding of three street papers in Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Toledo. The most powerful example of this collaboration leverage is the Veterans Matter program uniting HUD, the Veterans Administration, and all Americans.
For more info about 1Matters, please visit 1matters.org.
About Healthcare for Homeless Veterans (HCHV)
The HCHV Outreach Worker is the gateway to begin the homeless Veteran’s recovery. HCHV Outreach Workers are clinically trained mental health providers who determine what assistance and interventions are most appropriate to meet the Veteran’s unique needs.
If the Veteran is eligible, the Outreach Worker facilitates referrals for physical and mental health evaluations and/or to programs are the most appropriate for the Veteran, including the HUD-VASH program.
About HUD – VASH
The HUD-VASH Program combines the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for homeless veterans and their families with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at its medical centers and in the community.
HUD-VASH assists homeless veterans and their families afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing through the distribution of housing vouchers.