Atlanta’s Homeless Veterans: Regains Indedpendence and Support Others in Need

This video covers  interviews from homeless veterans past & present, including information from the Michael Sheppard, director of Atlanta Shelters, Anthony Delgado, the founder of I Care Atlanta, also a former homeless vet and former homeless veteran, Pastor Howard L. Young, Shield & Cornerstone Ministries.   (Video by D. Garvin)

On Sunday, March 9th, 2014, I Care Atlanta Founder Anthony Delgado Provided and served food for hundreds of homeless people on the corner of Peach & Pine   Street in Atlanta Ga.  Delgado, formerly a homeless veteran himself remembers what it was like living with a 12 year addiction to crack cocaine and living on the streets for nine months with no place to call home.  According to Delgado, once he accepted the help that’s available to veterans, in his case the Veteran Affairs as well as giving his life to God.  From that time forward his life has changed tremendously.

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(Left) Lydia Ortiz, (Middle) Founder of I Care Atlanta, Anthony Delgado and (right) staff of I Care Atlanta,  Stephanie Stevens poses for the camera at the I care Atlanta regular feeding event that happens every 2 weeks in downtown Atlanta, (C) 3/9/14.

Anthony Delgado who is also a former homeless veteran made the conscious decision to give back of his time by forming a non-profit organization called I Care Atlanta formerly known as My Brother’s Keepers Reaching Out, Inc.  Delgado makes it his mission to give back by feeding the homeless and instilling hope into the lives of those who need it.

Black Celebrity Giving and a host of other volunteers donate their time to cook and serve food that the I Care Atlanta organization provides every two weeks.  The feeding took place on the corner of Peach & Pine, adjacent to the  homeless shelter that sit on the same corner in downtown Atlanta, which is centrally located where many of the transient people reside on the streets.

They even have the children helping out.  Teach them while their young   . 3.9/14

The children are even taught to give back by volunteering their time and assisting with the serving. Downtown Atlanta Sunday March 9th, 2014

On 3/4/14 the organization called Black Celebrities Giving has not only volunteered their time, but also prepared the food that Icare has provided.  (c) 3/4/14

Black Celebrities Giving has not only volunteered their time, but also prepared the food that I care Atlanta has provided. (c) 3/9/14

March 4, 2014, the crowd patiently wait in line while  to have their plates field.

The crowd patiently line up while waiting to be served to have their plates filled (c) 3/9/2014

3/4/14, The homeless is  fed by ICare Atlanta, founded  by a former homeless vet Anthony Delgado.  Food is served in downtown Atlanta, on Pine st. & Courtland where a large homeless population reside.

The homeless is fed by I Care Atlanta, founder, former homeless veteran Anthony Delgado. Food is served in downtown Atlanta, on the corner of Peachtree and Pine, adjacent to the homeless shelter commonly known as Peach & Pine Shelter, where a large portion of the homeless population resides. Photo by D. Garvin (c) 3/9/2014

Here's a closer look at what Icare Atlanta & Black Celebrities Giving served the homeless in Atlanta on 3/4/14

Here’s a closer look at what I care Atlanta & Black Celebrities Giving served the homeless in downtown Atlanta on 3/9/14

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “in 2010 on a single night in January 2013, there were 610,042 people experiencing homelessness in the United States, this includes 394,698 people living in shelters and 215,344 still living on the streets.” However, according to the 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimate that 57,849 veterans are homeless on any given night.

The tent is a make-shift home of a homeless man.  They reside in a large parking lot directly across the street from the Peach & Pine Homeless Shelter in downtown Atlanta. (C)3/9/14

The tent is a make-shift home of a few of the homeless. Ironically, they reside in a large parking lot directly across the street from the Peach & Pine Homeless Shelter in downtown Atlanta. (C) 3/9/14

In Atlanta alone, January 2011, the numbers were About 1,200 homeless veterans and over 400 are thought to be chronically homeless, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC).

Homeless man sits alone with his crutch at his side and the tent where other home lives sits across from him. Downtown Atlanta on Peach & Pine 3/4/14

This homeless man sit alone with his crutch at his side in the parking lot where the homeless are being served, located directly across the street from the Peach & Pine homeless shelter in Downtown Atlanta on Peachtree & Pine, by D. Garvin (c) 3/9/14

The Veterans Affair has committed themselves to ending Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. The VA states “No one who has served our country should ever go without a safe, stable place to call home.” They are working diligently to end homelessness and taking steps to ensure that homeless veterans or at risk veterans will receive comprehensive care.

The Atlanta Mission is another organization that has done a lot help combat the fight against homelessness in Georgia and the podcast below is Samuel Oshonaike , social worker for the Atlanta Mission.  Listen as he talks about what he does and the role that the Atlanta Mission Plays in supporting the homeless.

Samuel Oshonaike, Atlanta Mission Social worker, sit at his office desk as he explains his role and with the agency and how the program works. Atlanta Mission (C) 3/9/14

Samuel Oshonaike, Social worker for the Atlanta Mission sit at his office desk as he explains how the program works and his role with the agency Atlanta Mission (C) 3/9/14

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This is a painted logo of the Atlanta Mission that displays on the wall located at the entry way of building. Atlanta, Ga. (c) 3/4/14

The Atlanta Mission is an organization that helps the overall homeless population. Their goal is to clean up the streets of Atlanta and eradicate homelessness altogether.  They plan is to help the homeless to get the proper care and a place to lay their heads either temporarily or sometimes up to a year or more, depending on the situation.

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Social worker, Samuel Oshonaike (in photo) and Director of the Atlanta Mission, Michael Sheppard carries in vinyl covered mattress pads to fill the empty bed frames. (c)3/4/2014

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The bed frames before all of the pads were added, (c) 3/4/2014

Here are the Beds after the padding and a fresh set of clean linen has been added, (c) 3/4/2014

Here are the beds after the padding and a fresh set of clean linen has been added, by D. Garvin (c) 3/4/2014

The Atlanta Mission is a Christian based organization.  The Mission has been around since 1938, it started out as a soup kitchen to feed homeless men displaced by The Great Depression.

The Atlanta Mission Feeds the First Group of Homeless Men, just before the next group come for intake. 3/4/14 (c) 2014 by D. Garvin

The Atlanta Mission feeds the first group of homeless men, just before the next group of men arrive for intake. Atlanta, Ga. (c) 3/4/14 Photo by D. Garvin

In 2013 the mission served, 2,050 meals daily, 298, 358 nights of shelter, ended homelessness for 738 people and served 327 families, today they continue to shelter, feed, clothe and educate the homeless on a daily basis.

A homeless man at the Atlanta Mission says “getting close to God is a part of the healing process and, I can see a change in my life because of it.” The Atlanta Mission also puts on an annual 5k race in downtown Atlanta, which has become a huge event in the Atlanta area.

The event  takes place in the month of January and it is to raise funds for the mission, so that the mission can continue to help support homelessness.   “Support is always is needed, whether they donate time, help cook, serve food or  just come and talk to the men.  We can use whatever help with whatever a person’s gifting  & talent lies” says Michael Sheppard, Director of Atlanta Mission.

A Second group of homeless men wait their turn as the Atlanta City Mission Prepare them for intake for temporary shelter.  Photo by D. Garvin (c) 2014

A second group of homeless men wait their turn as the Atlanta City mission prepare them for intake to temporarily shelter this group of men.  Photo by D. Garvin (c) 2014

Most of the  homeless men  past and present all had one thing in common, which is God as being the central force that gives them the inner strength to change their lives.  With the help of the VA, shelters,  feeding programs and various ministries; homeless vets learn how to function in society and begin to re-learn social skills, while maintaining sobriety and eventually regaining independence.

According to the chair of the United States Interagency Counsel on Homelessness, a statement from HUD Secretary, Shaun Donovan announced “as Chair of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, I’m pleased to announce that President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget clearly demonstrates the commitment of this Administration to achieve the goals of opening doors with federal and strategic plans to prevent and end homelessness.”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) states that “Atlanta housed 131 veterans in 100 days by cutting wait times with the help of federal agencies and nonprofits. The plan is to find housing for another 300 chronically homeless veterans by December 2013.”

In 2008, executive director Frantz Fortune, founded the Veterans Empowerment Organization of Georgia (VEO).  It’s a transitional living home for homeless veterans dedicated to saving veterans from self destruction. Their Mission is to provide the appropriate assistance to veterans who are neglected, sick, hungry and homeless in the state of Georgia.  Some of the services they provide include housing, connecting homeless veterans with the necessary resources like VA benefits, other shelters, food, clothing, medical and educational services. Veterans Empowerment Organization also have the big ambition to end homelessness.

The video above covers interviews from Executive Director/found Frantz Fortune and former homeless vets that have received help from VEO and has regained independence and is now helping VEO to save other vets from the risk of being displaced by bringing them into the transitional living home to prepare them for a better future, 3/4/14. (Video by D. Garvin)

At the VEO of Georgia Transitional living facility, vets regain independence by utilizing the skills they already have and new ones they may learn while living in the community. They regain a sense of value and purpose when allowed to work and become self-sufficient again.

Some of the skills the homeless vets offer are put to work to also help build the VEO community, whether it’s construction, landscaping, office management or case manager, it’s all to build a sense of camaraderie and self-worth.

Once the program is completed, they transition into their own homes and others may stay on as employees and continue to give back to help save other homeless vets from the streets.

Over the years VEO have had several homeless vets complete the program since it started  in 2008, and in just the past  year alone,  over 100 homeless vets completed the transitional living program and graduated into their own homes.

Pastor Howard L.  Young,  former homeless veteran is also giving back  in a different way.  He’s preaching & teaching by spreading the word of God to reach the lost and teaching the found.  He’s connecting with drug addicts, prostitutes and transients.  He’s able to  gain the trust of the people in these communities because of his past experiences and knowledge of the streets.

Pastor Howard L. Young poses for the picture with his wife outside of the Affordable Hotel, after service. (C) 3/4/14

Pastor Howard L. Young poses for the picture with his wife Dr. Pamela Bryant-Young outside of the Affordable Hotel, where they go to minister to homeless, needy, drug addicts, prostitutes or anyone in the community who’s willing to listen, learn, change and grow in the Lord. (C) 3/4/14

Pastor Howard L. Young,  founder of both Lord of The Harvest Church  and Shield and Cornerstone Ministry outreach.  The outreach is a Christian charitable base organization, who’s vision is to see that individuals and families will have an enhanced quality of life by gaining better access to jobs, childcare, healthcare, education, transportation, social services, and affordable housing. Young does this by going into these inner cities on Wednesday and Sundays to minister to those in the community and they give away food, cloths and school supplies.

Young and wife Dr. Pamela Bryant-Young goes into communities to reach the lost and teach the found.  Young says “God allowed me and my wife to go out and get them, to take the people back.”  He demonstrates his word in action by doing just that,  going into to what some may  consider the bad parts of town to meet them where they are.

This is a shot of a few members outside of the Affordable Hotel, located in Decatur Ga. Sunday (c) 3/5/14  D. Garvin

This is a shot of a few of the members of Lord of the Harvest Church, outside of the Affordable Hotel, located in Decatur Ga. Wednesday (c) 3/5/14 D. Garvin

Being a former drug addict himself and living on the streets for 9 ½ years,  Young  understands and knows a little something about what it’s like and what it takes to come out of it.  He uses his knowledge and own personal experience to go into these drug infested areas and to gain the trust of the people in the community.

Young’s story is similar to many of the homeless and drug addicted men & women he ministers to today, and understands what is needed to reach them. However, today Young is off the streets and made a vow to God “If you get me through this God, I will go back to the streets to help bring your people out.” say’s young.

He now goes to the unfavorable parts of the inner city where many ministries are afraid to go.  Pastor Howard Young & Dr. Pamela Bryant-Young of  Shield and Cornerstone Ministry  and  Lord of The Harvest Church goes in with a quite confidence and  a holy boldness.  Young  has kept his promise to God by returning to the streets, but this time not as a victim of the street, but as a victor of the streets.

In 2013, The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released its national estimate for homelessness in Atlanta.  Since the Federal Government announced a strategic plan to end homelessness in 2010, Georgia has seen a significant drop in homeless. In 2010 the numbers were 19,3836 homeless, and as of 2013 the rate has made a significant drop to 2, 865, however, there’s still a ways to go; and with the help of the community and various agencies, many homeless veterans can improve social skills and continue regaining their independence and become more  productive in their communities again.

Check out this homeless veteran’s transformation

Video from YouTube/RobBlissCreative

There Are Services that Can Help Support Homeless Veterans

The HUD-Vash Program that Jay Williamson mentioned in the video above, is a program that is supported by the Department of Housing & Urban Development for “housing choice” section 8 vouchers to Public Housing Authorities throughout the country for eligible veterans. This allows veterans and their families to live in Veteran-selected apartment units; making it possible for them to move to communities where VA case management services are available. To retrieve updated information on this or other programs visit the va.gov/homeless

The National Alliance to End Homelessness suggests that we help build a better relationship with the VA in order to help them better serve the homeless vets:  Bringing the VA into the community. Call to 877-4AID-VET (424-3838) to be connected 24/7 with VA’s services to overcome or prevent homelessness for yourself or  for a Veteran you may know.  Help the VA staff by sharing resources and knowledge.

Here are some links that will connect you with agencies that can help with employment,  This, site is to help wounded and transitioning service personnel and veterans to connect with an online adviser who can help veterans locate the director for veteran employment and training in a city  or state where they live.  Their job is to  help the veteran smoothly transition into a satisfying career. Americans Hero at Work,  is to assist service Members and Veterans living with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) become successful in the workplace, especially those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The One More Way Collaborative   is an open source employment initiative that makes information  available to Job Seekers with disabilities, and the programs that support them.  It’s to be used by hiring managers in virtually any industry across the country. The One More Way collaborative serves as a forum for all parties involved.

 

 

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