Phoenix's Homeless Veteran Problem Not Solved, Local Homeless Advocates Say

Categories: News

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Amy Silverman
Charles Ackles
Despite the headlines, not everyone believes Phoenix has housed every homeless veteran in the city.

It's a typical Monday morning for Joe Simek, a veterans advocate at the Justa Center, a day program for homeless seniors in downtown Phoenix.

He stops filling a plastic bag with toiletries for a homeless veteran to chat about his background and his job. Simek is retired Army, served for 27 years -- in Germany, Vietnam, Desert Storm. He worked at the Pentagon. His mantra was always, "Serve the soldier," something he practices to this day.

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In Simek's current position at this nonprofit, that means a lot of paperwork. Some homeless vets show up without proof they served, let alone what they need to get Social Security and medical benefits. Simek and his colleagues work closely with the Veterans Administration to get necessary documentation.

Last summer, a man named Charles Ackles came to town from Oklahoma, where he was homeless. Ackles is tall, silver-haired, and handsome at 85. He sits down in Simek's office and tells a story about coming back to Phoenix looking for money from a used-appliance business he once owned. His memory of how the business ended is that he offered his partner champagne, and she threw a cup of coffee in his face.

There's no money, Simek says with a sigh after Ackles leaves; and, yes, the man has advanced dementia. He also served for four years in the Army in the 1940s. Simek was able to track down his paperwork and get the hernia surgery he desperately needed when he showed up last summer. He's doing much better now. But months later, Ackles still lives at a shelter.

Simek tells a few more stories, then he has to go. There are two new homeless veterans waiting to speak with him. Could be worse; there were five the Monday before.

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24 comments
ethiel_ackles
ethiel_ackles

i need to get in touch with charles eugene ackles he is my husband here in the philippines pls... contact me ragarding his information my number is 09183137317

HarryY
HarryY

I can't tell if the author honestly can't see hole in her logic or if she is dancing around it simply to cause controversy (which the New Times loves).

Her interviewee(s) at the Justa Center and the author herself keep stating that there are still homeless veterans therefore City of Phx's claim that they've ended veteran homelessness is wrong....but the city has never claimed that. The actual claim is that CHRONIC homelessness is at zero in Phx. Everybody freely admits that there are many many homeless veterans. And our author and the people that she interviews never say that they still see CHRONICALLY homeless vets--just that they see homeless veterans...So they aren't actually challenging the claim. Not once does the author point out what "CHRONIC HOMELESSNESS" actually means despite that it's in the title of every one of the articles she lists. That's just poor journalism--who proof reads these?

Azveteran
Azveteran

Phoenix coalition to end homelessness among veterans, Justa center both which are local as well as MRCC which is a national veteran organization all made public statements that there are still homelessness among veterans in phoenix and that the problem is not solved. I say listen to those who are working with veterans on a day in and day out basis and NOT listen to those who are doing this for political reasons. We have nothing to lose by working like the problem is not yet solved. We can help a veteran or two in the process.

Azceh has betrayed veterans. We need to continue working to put an end to homelessness. Do not give up on veterans by saying mission accomplished. Do not take the easy way out. Out nation heros deserve better.

Jim Thomas
Jim Thomas

stop funding for the illegals, and place those funds to the vet's!!!!!!!!!

Maria Tolis
Maria Tolis

Panayiota Bertzikis spoken publicly about the mayor's accusations. Such an embarrassment for Phoenix that someone in her position is calling them out.

Azveteran
Azveteran

The Az coalition to end homelessness has been cyber bullying and straight out calling veterans advocates "liars" when they say that ther are still homeless veterans. Their executive director also does not return calls from vet advocates.

Michael Swann
Michael Swann

many programs are available for homeless vets. we need more outreach.

GlobalParadox
GlobalParadox

Thanks for writing this article. I've been amazed at the lack of skepticism the MMS exhibited about Phoenix's claim. It is amazingly naive for both the City and the media to believe homelessness is solved.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

You've seen this type of activity before - it seems normal for humans to see something that's got some hope in succeeding at solving a problem, but have incorrectly determined that there is no hope and use that determination on their part to excuse their lack of success in confronting the problem.  Invest enough of yourself in believing that there is no hope and they'll try to denounce the successful program, no matter the evidence.  Too much Hubris is the problem.  Poverty and diseases like dementia cause homelessness, not attempts to get people into housing!  Thank you President Obama for giving us a number of programs which help our Veterans get more housing, medical treatment and jobs.


http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/veterans/

tsissons
tsissons

What this article misses is that Phoenix housed all of the 220 medically vulnerable chronically homeless Veterans who were identified in an earlier street count.  Over the months, all 220 were placed in permanent supported housing with keys to their own front doors.  Yes, every day additional Veterans, and other people, become homeless and show up at shelters, military Stand Downs, and other resource places.  That doesn't take anything away from those agencies, including the City of Phoenix, who continue, daily, to advance the Housing First model, coordinated by the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness.

rejco
rejco

Homeless veterans placed on 8-hour filthy church floor mats (costing $5,000 a month per mat) IS NOT HOUSING!

rejco
rejco

The homeless veterans have had enough programs & counseling...THEY NEED HOUSING, REAL HOUSING with leases in their names, keys to locking doors, and PRIVACY!

rejco
rejco

Get rid of the Homeless Poverty Pimps, who keep all the homeless funding for themselves, and keeps the homeless in their ABSOLUTELY WORTHLESS programs and still homeless; get the homeless veterans into REAL HOUSING...NOW!

rejco
rejco

There are desperately needy homeless veterans all over Phoenix; the Homeless Poverty Pimps have not ended veteran's homelessness...THEY ARE DIRTY FILTHY LIARS.

cchamb2
cchamb2

@HarryY The author is reporting on a lot of articles nationwide about the success of Phoenix in eradicating its veterans' homeless problem by housing 222 chronically homeless vets.

Nowhere do these stories mention that there are more out there.  The last StandDown was attended by 1759 homeless vets, and that was in February.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@Azveteran Why should they return calls to whiney ass shits like you when they have bigger problems to solve, like homelessness. 

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@GlobalParadox  I've never read or heard it stated that homelessness was solved.  Where did you read that?

HarryY
HarryY

@cchamb2 @HarryY I'm sorry but that's just not true. 1759 vets showed up. Less than 25% were actually homeless and only 50 or less were Chronically homeless. Here is the report:  http://www.arizonastanddown.org/EmailTracker/LinkTracker.ashx?linkAndRecipientCode=up%2b2fgyjwA%2fwH7X%2fCKCSgm%2fnYA%2byZrlWTPzjgfhDErQZ%2bfQqDkTrXPkcaBBsNFdS7croORmdYcDfvtFdLZM1MirlCewpve6Ua1cV%2fJ3%2bP3Q%3d


!And the stories frequently mention that the problem of vet homelessness still exits and I would certainly agree--I work at a shelter. The success claims are for "CHRONIC" homelessness.  DId you even read my post?! 

Azveteran
Azveteran

I'm not saying that they don't return my calls. I'm saying that the reputation AZCEH has is that they don't return calls to other organizations or to veterans. It sickens me that they never heard of the Justa center that is known to do such great work for veterans in phoenix.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@AzveteranMaybe they don't return calls because they didn't GET the calls - ever think about that?  You provide me with the name of ONE PERSON who says that one group didn't return a phone call of another group and I'll follow on that allegation.  However, until then, you're a troublemaker who likes to stir shit up where there is none.  Your complaining is injecting a lot of drama where there is none - just like this article.  No one claimed that ALL homelessness was ended by the Phoenix program.  They claimed exactly what they did.  This article was done because Amy wants to create a little controversy around her name.  I expect that she has some book coming out soon.  The level of cooperation among people and organization who serve the homeless is at an all time high.  You may not have been here in the early 1980s when Louisa Stark was gathering together folks who serve the homeless at weekend housing fairs in areas where homeless live.  If you want to start those up again, I'm sure there'd be people in these organization who could come out and set up a table.  Weekly housing fairs for the homeless would be cool.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

@cchamb2 @GlobalParadox Okay, I googled that and nowhere in any of the articles found did it say that they have solved the homeless veterans situation.  Stop lying.


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