A Real Working Solution to Housing Homeless Veterans

  • Post category:Opinion

Taxpayer Dollars Equate Government Waste

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When we think about taxpayer dollars, it is almost instinctual to then think about Government waste. Remember that line in the movie Independence Day? When Judd Hirsh says, “You do not think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, or $30,000 on a toilet seat do you?” Maybe that is not reality, but the waste of our money is. Did you know that there is a psychiatric hospital in Georgia that was once the largest in the world? In the prime years of that hospital, it was said to have the capacity for 12,000 patients. The 200-building complex sprawled across 2,000 acres of land.

How about Creedmoor in the middle of Queens, New York? Just one more example of a giant psychiatric facility paid for and funded with tax dollars. In 1959, the hospital held 7000 people on its campus. It sat on 300 acres of land and comprised of 50 buildings. I could cite example after example of these campuses across the country. Nearly every state has one, and most have multiple facilities just like Creedmoor.

These facilities were built and funded with tax dollars, where have they gone? How have we allowed these buildings and these campuses to simply rot away? Hundreds if not thousands of buildings, millions and millions of taxpayer dollars thrown down the drain. Suddenly $30,000 on a toilet seat seems to pale in comparison.

The creation of psychiatric drugs paved the way for deinstitutionalization. They are cancer that has eaten away at our mental health system. The side effects of these drugs, however, stretch far beyond the user. Here we sit in the year 2018, and our congress is giving themselves a $20,000 raise. The budget never stops climbing, and the National debt is not getting any smaller. We have a government that lets millions of tax dollars rot into the ground, while it spends millions on construction.
I have witnessed firsthand as these buildings are just left to sit, and I ask myself, “Is remodeling, refurbishing, and rehabilitating our existing buildings so expensive that it outweighs the cost of modern-day construction from the ground up. Shouldn’t we be maintaining them in the first place? Do the taxpayers understand that those are their dollars being left and abandoned?” As you ponder these questions and the government waste, think about the opportunity.

A New Idea

What if you knew there are places right now, that have heat, electric, and water that sit empty 365 days a year. Buildings that are funded with tax dollars, buildings that are already in the budget. You see, part of the deinstitutionalization movement was lowering patient counts. Much like Georgia, these campuses had the ability to hold thousands and now only hold a fraction.

Without a doubt, there are buildings in my state that could be lived in today. I have seen them, I have been in them. Some may need fresh paint or fixtures, but every single one that I can speak on is better than the streets. This is where I see the opportunity. Not just a one-sided proposition but a win, win, win, arrangement.

What Should We Do

In 2017 President Trump requested 1.7 billion dollars in the V.A. budget for homeless veterans and another $6 billion for targeted homelessness. In my state, the immediately available housing could be given to veterans in need. These facilities are already funded, the money is already being spent. The Presidents funding could be used in conjunction with state budget to accommodate furnishings and facility upgrades.

If these opportunities were used right, there could be full veteran centers ready to go for short periods of time. We could implement educational, recreational, and beneficial programs that would create a dramatic shift in our veterans’ lives. These facilities could have on sight doctors, dentists, and even barbers. We could give the veterans jobs, many of these campuses are short-handed in trades, maintenance, and custodial staffing. With the budget funding, we could employ veterans to work or aide in the restoration of the buildings that are not ready to live in yet. Allowing veterans to work on the restoration of these buildings not only would employ them, but would increase the space, and provide housing for all homeless. If done correctly these forgotten campuses could become housing and education centers, which would be able to serve our less fortunate people and improve our working class.

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It is Time That We Do Something

As previously stated, there are buildings with bathrooms, kitchens, and bedrooms in my state right now. From my own experiences, I believe that there are places that can be moved into by veterans with a simple turn of a key. If there are locations like this in my state, I will bet there are opportunities like this in your state too. Go out, investigate your towns and cities, and find these places. Where are the psychiatric facilities near you? Paid for with our money, built by American hands. Have they just been left to rot? If they have, when will we start to ask why?

You may be surprised by what you will find. You would most likely find buildings that are just sitting. With a cleaning, or some minor repairs, the lights could come on. If you find these places, if they exist in your states as they do mine, then ask yourself. Why do we have homeless Veterans?

Marc Manross
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