LETTER TO THE GOVERNOR

July 31, 2019

The Yountville Veterans Group (YVG) published a proposal dated April 16, 2019: “TO TRANSFORM THE YOUNTVILLE VETERANS HOME FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES.”

The Proposal would provide a bold, innovative and aggressive plan to establish a major Medical Center for Veterans in Napa County and neighboring counties as well as our Veterans statewide.

Included in the Proposal was an article titled, “A PROPOSAL TO SERVE HOMELESS VETERANS”. The Proposal recommended that after completion of all resident buildings and the Holderman facility, to enhance the Quality of Life and living conditions of the current Yountville Veterans Home residents, separate housing could be designated to accommodate homeless Veterans. Veteran homelessness not only affects those who experienced the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but also includes Veterans who served in Vietnam, Korea and World War II.

The YVG Proposal would require the support and management of a Homeless Patient Care Team (H-PACT) Program. Located on the campuses of VA medical centers (VAMCs) community clinics and Community Resource and Referral Centers, H-PACT clinics provide a coordinated “medical home” tailored to the needs of homeless Veterans. They integrate clinical care, social services, enhanced access and community coordination. There are approximately 500 unsheltered homeless Veterans in Butte, Colusa, Lake, Napa, Sonoma and Yolo Counties.

The YVG recommended in the April Proposal that an employee and visitor shuttle bus service be established between the Yountville campus, Napa, Vallejo, Sonoma, St. Helena and other bedroom communities.

When the Proposal is adopted, well trained and licensed psychiatric technicians, social workers and residential care specialists would be necessary to manage and oversee each resident building on a 24-hour basis.

In the July 25, 2019 publication of the Yountville Sun, Yountville Mayor John Dunbar, reports: “As a real here – and – now example, Dunbar explained the Veterans Home, as the largest employer in town, has nearly 100 caregiver jobs unfilled, mainly because the cost of living in the area does not align with incomes.” Dunbar goes on to recommend that more employee housing be built on the Veteran’s campus.

The YVG believes that this recommendation to build housing for employees on campus is impractical and short-sighted. Adding additional housing and cars on campus will increase the current traffic congestion.

The July 7, 2019 edition of the Napa Register reported “NEW PUSH TO CUT TRAFFIC”, and county supervisor Alfredo Pedroza was quoted as saying that “It’s pretty clear when you drive north in Napa Valley at 7 a.m., you see a lot of single-occupancy vehicles, which is our workforce.”

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) has put forth $1 million for the study of the traffic problem and is hiring a Seattle-based consultant, Lumm, to provide commute management technology.

“Why would the MTC have to hire and spend $1 million with a Seattle, Washington consultant to study a Napa Valley problem?” Why not hire some students at the Napa Valley College and let them create a project that will solve our problems at a fraction of the cost?

Ashley Nguyen, at the MTC meeting, said “Because of the rural nature of Napa Valley, the idea of fixed transit doesn’t make sense, because there is scattered origins and destinations.” Ms. Nguyen, also added, “smaller transit vans might work.”

The estimated number of homeless Veterans in the United States in 2018 by State.

Top 20:

California 10,836
Florida 2,543
Texas 1,935
Washington 1,636
Oregon 1,363
New York 1,224
Colorado 1,073
Massachusetts  985
Pennsylvania 982
Arizona 893
North Carolina 884
Illinois 804
Ohio 749
Tennessee 742
Nevada 723
Georgia 705
Michigan 693
Maryland 574
New Jersey 555
Indiana 539

In its 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimated that just over 40,000 Veterans went homeless. Of those, about 9% were women (3,600). From 2016 to 2017, the number of homeless female Veterans increased by 7% compared to 1% for their male counterparts.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness “homeless Veterans tend to be male (91 percent), single (98 percent), live in a city (76 percent), and have a mental and/or physical disability (54 percent). African American Veterans are substantially overrepresented among homeless Veterans, comprising 40 percent of the total homeless Veteran population, but only 10 percent of the total Veteran population.”

As troops return from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the face of Veteran homelessness has changed: homeless Veterans are increasingly younger, female, and heads of households.

Despite this, homeless Veterans are still most likely to be males, between the ages of 51 and 61 (43 percent) and to have served in the Vietnam War, and, in the next 10 to 15 years, it is projected that the number of homeless Veterans over the age of 55 could increase drastically.

January 18, 2019 – Estimating the Number of Homeless in America

Statistics show that America’s Homeless Problem is getting worse. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) there were approximately 554,000 homeless people living somewhere in the United States on a given night. A total of 193,000 of those people were “unsheltered”, meaning that they were living on the streets and had no access to emergency shelters, transitional housing, or Safe Havens.

The count of homeless collected by HUD are point-in-time (PIT) estimates taken on one night in the last 10 days of January each year.

Our new Governor, Gavin Newsom, is faced with a major challenge in how to address the significant number of homeless in the State. Currently, California has approximately 150,000 homeless, representing 25% of the homeless in the United States.

Homeless Statistics for California:

Total Homelessness Population – approximately 150,000

Total Family Households Experiencing Homelessness – 6,702

Veterans Experiencing Homelessness – 10,836

Persons Experiencing Chronic Homelessness – 34,396

Unaccompanied Young Adults (Aged 18-24) Experiencing Homelessness – 12,396

Total Number of Unaccompanied Homeless Students – 7,495

Nighttime Residence Unsheltered – 7,533

Nighttime Residence Shelters – 17,061

Nighttime Residence Hotels/Motels – 10,095

According to the Coalition for Homeless, two trends are largely responsible for the rise in homelessness in America over the past 20-25 years: a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty. Not surprisingly, persons living in poverty are most at risk of becoming homeless. In the United States homelessness is an undeniable reality that impacts people of all ages, ethnicities, and life circumstances.

California’s poverty rate is the highest in the Nation, according to the recent census’ Supplemental Poverty Measure, 20.6 percent.

Supplemental Poverty Measure: The measure calculates poverty rates by taking into account the many government programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals that are not included in the official poverty measures. It is this measure that gives a better idea of what’s going on in a State.

Many factors can contribute to a person becoming homeless:

  • Poverty
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Job Loss
  • Lack of Health Care
  • Mental Illness
  • Substance Abuse
  • Domestic Violence

“The Obama Administration released a plan designed to end homelessness in 10 years. The goal reflects new optimism among academics and advocates that homelessness is not an intractable feature of urban life, as it has sometimes seemed, but a problem that can be solved. This belief is fueled by recent research debunking a number of long-standing myths about homelessness in America – and showing that many of our old policies were unwittingly making the problem worse.” Dennis Culhane, Director of Research for the National Center on Homelessness

The YVG Proposal “To Serve Homeless Veterans”, when implemented, would assist the Governor in resolving some of the States’ on-going crisis of Veteran homelessness. The plan can accommodate upwards of 150 Homeless Veterans now, without the need for building any new structures on campus. The Madison and McKinley buildings can accommodate as many as 50 Homeless Veterans per building, each with single occupancy rooms. The Kennedy building has approximately 17 vacant single rooms that are available for homeless women Veterans. There are approximately 30 additional single occupancy rooms that are available throughout the remaining resident buildings that already accommodate Veterans admitted due to homeless circumstances.

The Federal VA and HUD can provide financing and/or funds to rehabilitate the existing buildings as well as the new construction to help the State expand its housing construction as needed on the Yountville campus.

Future resident building construction would address the Homeless Veteran crisis and accommodate the many homeless living in nearby counties. Traffic congestion would not be increase, since all but a few homeless Veterans have vehicles.

It is our hope the Governor and his advisors will see the benefits of implementing this Proposal.

LETTER TO THE GOVERNOR was last modified: March 19th, 2021 by NVVF