17 Years Military to 10 Years Homeless in Los Angeles

I first met Bob last Sunday. I was invited to join West Valley People’s Alliance on outreach in Chatsworth, a suburban neighborhood in Los Angeles, California. I forget how hot the in the San Fernando Valley gets. It was 109 degrees out. Far too hot for anyone to be outside, but tens of thousands of homeless people do what they can to survive.

Bob spent 17 and 1/2 years in the military until he was hurt on the job. It took almost five years of tests before they could validate his medical discharge. Around this time, Bob was going through a divorce, which made navigating the bureaucracy even harder. I have heard similar stories from other homeless veterans.

Bob should be getting approximately $2,700 every month in VA benefits and $2,100 from Social Security. That amount combined would be enough to get Bob and his wife off the streets into an apartment. Instead, Bob receives $143 in total benefits every month. He cannot even get food stamps because they look at what Bob should be receiving, which on a computer is too much to qualify, but in the real world, Bob has to live on $143 every month.

Bob likes to work on cars. Make sure to watch to the end to hear his 3rd wish. Bob makes extra money through his mechanic skills, but because of his disability, he cannot work enough to maintain a normal job.

Bob’s wife has been in the hospital for two weeks. During a homeless sweep, police and sanitation were pushing them to hurry up. Bob’s wife cut her leg during the sweep, which eventually got infected. Homeless sweeps and the criminalization of homelessness are growing in Los Angeles. Politicians just passed 41.18, which makes it illegal to sit, lie or sleep in or upon any street, sidewalk or other public way. THEY DIDN’T PROVIDE MORE HOUSING OR SHELTER BEDS – they just made it illegal to live outside!

Your voice can help end homelessness. If we do not fix the affordable housing crisis, homelessness will continue to get worse. Click here to tweet, email, call, or Facebook your federal and state legislators to tell them ending homelessness and creating more affordable housing is a priority to you.

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More stories:

Watch a Homeless Veteran Get an Apartment

Inside VETERANS ROW: Homeless Vets Outside Los Angeles’s VA

Lanette is a homeless veteran living in her car in Los Angeles

Homeless Vietnam veteran in NYC uses his military training to survive homelessness

#homeless #losangeles #veteran

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There is a direct correlation between what the general public perceives about homelessness and how it affects policy change. Most people blame homelessness on the person experiencing it instead of the increasing shortage of affordable housing, lack of employment, childhood trauma, lack of a living wage, or the countless reasons that put a person at risk. This lack of understanding creates a dangerous cycle of misperception that leads to the inability to effectively address the root causes of homelessness.

We imagine a world where everyone has a place to call home. Each day, we work to fight homelessness by giving it a face while educating individuals about the systemic issues that contribute to its existence. Through storytelling, education, news, and activism, we are changing the narrative on homelessness.

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However, there is more work to be done on the road ahead. Homelessness is undoubtedly one of our biggest societal issues today and will only continue to grow if we don’t take action now.

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