I Blame Obama

Here’s a piece of unequivocal good news with which to start the last full year of the Obama presidency:

The executive director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal response on the issue, said in a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio this week that [New York] city had “effectively” ended chronic homelessness among veterans.

Lives change:

In 2015 alone, the city placed more than 1,000 veterans in permanent housing, according to city officials. Several weeks ago, at Clinton Avenue Residence, a new 43-unit development in the Bronx specifically for veterans, several men dragged garbage bags with their belongings through the gleaming lobby and into their studio apartments.

“I woke up and there wasn’t a person sleeping three feet away,” Eric Peters, 54, an Air Force veteran who has been in and out of homelessness for decades, said the next morning.

Mednyánszky,_László_-_Reclining_Soldier_(ca_1916)

New York City is doing better than many places, though not uniquely so.  Homelessness among vets is down 36% nationwide, and, as The New York Times reports,

 Houston, Las Vegas and New Orleans, among several cities, [have] effectively ending overall veteran homelessness, meaning they have identified all homeless veterans, not just the chronic cases, and placed them in homes.

Why has this happened? Because:

The city’s efforts are part of a broader federal initiative, started under President Obama and aimed at ending veteran homelessness in the United States. The federal housing agency, working in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, has now distributed 79,000 rental assistance vouchers to veterans across the country dating to 2008.

Three cheers for both the hard work being done at both the national and local levels.  I hope the program serves as a model to tackle homelessness writ large — but I have no problem with selecting veterans as the first to demonstrate that the world’s last superpower does not in fact have to house its people in cardboard boxes.

But I do want to point out what’s obvious in this crowd, and should be so in the wide world:  this is what respect — and more, support — for those who serve our military looks like.  The next time your wingnut acquaintance spouts about the Muslim Kenyan Usurpers disregard for the armed services, point this out to her or him — and ask him which GOPster has made this a priority.

Happy new year all.  Going to be an interesting ride in this year of our [insert pasta shape here] 2016

Image:  Ladislav Medňanský, Reclining Soldier, c. 1916.

46 replies
  1. 1
    RaflW says:

    I find it disgraceful in the extreme that the GOP can get away with the baseless charges they make re: Obama and respect for the military. Republicans would happily stuff every cannon with young people, and then budget-cut the V.A. into a humanitarian disaster.

    Our generally awful press does far too little to explain the contrast in party policy positions and impacts they would have on active duty as well as discharged or retired vets.

  2. 2
    raven says:

    @RaflW: And none of this is going to change shit to most vets.

  3. 3
    Tom Levenson says:

    @raven: This is one, it seems to me, where the old Obama organizing adage is most true: that changes only when and as vets who know about this and care speak to their vet friends about it. Some middle aged pointed headed academic spouting off on a blog is not going to do much — but if doing so brings the necessary material to those who can make good use of it, then that’ll do.

    ETA: That road is slow, I’ll admit. But slow is better than non-existant.

  4. 4
    Hildebrand says:

    I will gladly post all of this info on the Facebook feeds of my wing-nut relatives who re-post the memes decrying the US accepting Syrian refugees whilst countless Vets are still homeless.

  5. 5
    mclaren says:

    One of Obama’s PR problems is that the good stuff he does fails to qualify as “spectacular amazing cool” newsworthy items. JFK says “Let’s go to the moon,” huge headlines. Spectacular amazing cool stuff.

    Obama says, “Let’s end homelessness.” Not spectacular, not amazing, not cool. No headlines.

    Other great achievements of the Obama administration (and I am serious as a heart attack about this):

    No corruption. Zero. Nada. Bupkiss. Diddly. People were getting dragging out of the Reagan and Bush administrations in chains by the boxcar full…Obama? Not one scandal. Nothing. But it’s not spectacular and it’s not amazing and it’s not gosh-wow-cool, so no headlines about that.

    Obama isn’t starting new invasions of other countries with massive troop deployments. Yeah, yeah, there’s Libya and Afghanistan and yadda yadda — but Libya is a bombing campaign, Afghanistan the troops were already there. So that’s at least something. Obama has successfully resisted the entrenched warmongers screaming for “Boots on the ground!” in some new third world hellhole. And yes, there’s the ongoing drone atrocities. But at least no new Iraq 2003.

    Obama is pushing forward to make the CFPG work despite fanatical kamikaze-level Republican opposition. That’s something.

    But once again, not spectacular, not amazing in a newsworthy way, not cool-enough-to-put-in-a-headline.

  6. 6
    raven says:

    @Tom Levenson: I do it all the time with my vet buddies. They think I’m fucking crazy.

  7. 7
    redshirt says:

    Everything we do is 100 times more difficult than what the Republicans can do.

    Example: During W’s administration, the Dems threatened to vote against some new Iraq war funding, and Fox News screamed “TREASON” and the Dems caved;
    During Obama’s administration, the Repubs have indeed voted against military funding votes, against 9/11 responder bills, and the response was….. nothing.

    The Media controls almost everything, and Fox News and associated arms of the Republican think tanks control the media. NBC and ABC and the rest take their cues from Fox.

    So, we will barely hear about this development. But rest assured the next thing Fox News wants to push will dominate all news for a period of time. Example: The Potemkin Tea Party rallies Fox staged in 2009. It literally created a “new” force in American politics.

  8. 8
    redshirt says:

    @mclaren: Great post. Make more like this.

  9. 9
    Tom Levenson says:

    @raven: I’m sure. But it matters that you do it. And as long as the diagnoses of your derangement aren’t over determined, it helps.

    We’ve had two generations at least of the drumbeat that Democrats don’t respect vets. You have the evidence of the Bush II administration — with its Vietnam-avoiding chief and its draft dodging Veep, and a SecDef who waved off lack of body armor and proper vehicles as “the army you have” — and its still the Democrats who don’t respect vets. The only way that changes is the same way water makes the Grand Canyon. Slowly, persistently, with more patience than any of us is naturally heir to.

    Which is another way of saying thanks for doing the unthanked work.

  10. 10
    SIA says:

    Coming from an extended family of soldiers, I am so glad to read this. It’s a disgrace that any vet (or any human) has to live on the streets. I’m sick beyond belief of the long standing meme that Repubs are pro-vet. No. They’re pro-war and give not one single fuck about the actual people serving.

    I’ve often wondered what my father would’ve thought of Pres Obama had he not died at 65 after his first chemo treatment for leukemia, which was believed to be at least in part connected with Agent Orange exposure during his tour in Vietnam Nam. I think he was intelligent enough to recognize Obama’s concern for soldiers.

    My Fox-watching mama…not so much. :(

  11. 11
    Ruckus says:

    @Tom Levenson:
    Yes this road is far better than nothing, as is typical of President Obama. Given that we can expect nothing from conservatives that doesn’t line the pockets of their owners first and foremost that’s about as good as it gets.

  12. 12
    goblue72 says:

    Having worked on (and continuing to work on) developing some of these kinds of homeless vets housing projects (in California), I can say that the Obama Administration has indeed put its money where it mouth is – and done the kind of critical behind the scenes work beating the entrenched bureaucrats over the head to force them to co-ordinate interagency between the V.A. and HUD.

    Unfortunately, it will be a challenge extending this ending other kinds of homelessness. The type of supportive housing developed under the VASH program wasn’t significantly different than what supportive housing providers have been doing for over a decade. The difference here was a combination of (1) having access to an existing social services infrastructure (the V.A.) that was relatively well funded in the comparison to most HSS or state/county DSS/DPH type social service programs, PLUS (2) targeting existing HUD funds towards homeless vets (along with squeezing a little extra dollars out of Congress).

    Replicating will be difficult as it mainly involved taking an existing services system (VA) and marrying to an existing pool of funds. The pie really wasn’t made any bigger – it was just focused on one particular homeless population (Vets). So in part, it was accomplished by re-arranging the deck chairs.

    Achieving similar gains in other homeless populations will require expanding the pie – by increasing the HUD budget. Which will be a big challenge, as over the last 10 years, budget cuts to HUD have been disproportionately larger in terms of percentage of the HUD budget than many other agencies experienced. DoD has saw very little budget cuts over last 10 years for example – and in many years, saw increasing, while “domestic discretionary funding” was axed.

    Kudos to Obama. But forest for the trees, the forest is in really bad shape.

  13. 13
    Mai.naem.mobile says:

    Bbbutt Benghazi, Birthergazi, Ihatewhiteygazi, IRSgate,SecretServicegazi,Kanyegate,ObamaLibrarykillsReagangate,$7billionIndiavisitgate,SooperSekretMusleemygate,Flagpingate – I can’t even keep track of all these skandulls.

  14. 14
    Gex says:

    @RaflW: I see so many people complain about how veterans get shafted, and invariably they blame Congress, not Republicans. It makes me punching fist really twitchy.

    @Tom Levenson: This. And, with Facebook, I often believe that the person I’m in disagreement with may never come around to my point of view. But you never know who else is reading the exchange and will become better informed as a result.

  15. 15
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Tom Levenson: Don’t forget Walter Reed:

    Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration At Army’s Top Medical Facility

    By Dana Priest and Anne Hull
    Washington Post Staff Writers

    Sunday, February 18, 2007

    Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan’s room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.

    This is the world of Building 18, not the kind of place where Duncan expected to recover when he was evacuated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center from Iraq last February with a broken neck and a shredded left ear, nearly dead from blood loss. But the old lodge, just outside the gates of the hospital and five miles up the road from the White House, has housed hundreds of maimed soldiers recuperating from injuries suffered in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    :-(

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  16. 16
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    There is absolutely no reason, aside from mean spirited assholishness and greed, for anyone in this country to be homeless. We have more than enough resources to provide shelter for everyone. That goes for vets and non-vets alike.

    It’s in the Constitution to provide for the general welfare. We can do this if we only had the political will to do so. We do not. There is a sizable minority of Americans who get off on the suffering of others.

  17. 17
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    This is really good news. President Obama is leaving a long list of accomplishments (and I’m sure he isn’t done yet!), and it breaks my heart to think how much more he could have done — how much more we could have done — had it not been for GOP obstruction and media distortion.

    Related only because it’s about Obama: I’ve never been much of a Jerry Seinfeld fan (never watched his eponymous sitcom, had never seen Comedians in Cars with Coffee) but I watched the episode where he and POTUS go for a spin in a ’63 Chevette, then have coffee in the horrible White House cafeteria. The President, frankly, is much funnier than Seinfeld, IMHO. Have a look, if you haven’t seen it yet.

  18. 18
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Corvette, not Chevette. It really makes a difference.

  19. 19
    J R in WV says:

    @mclaren:

    So what the hell is “CFPG”?

    Google talks about Cystic Fibrosis and Central Florida Pulmonary Group…

    You just babble about anything, or nothing. I’ve tried to support you when you make sense, but that has gone from rarely to never.

  20. 20
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @J R in WV: I am sure that he meant CFPB. He’s an asshole, but I’m not going to knock him for a typo.

  21. 21
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Yes it does. My very bad. Thanks!

    (ETA: I came very close to referring to it as a “‘Vette,” but I knew you would all laugh at me for trying to sound all hip and everything.)

  22. 22
    raven says:

    @Tom Levenson: I’ve been doing it since 1969. My vet buddies in Illinois are way left of these dudes in Georgia so it’s a shock when I got home. Hell, I used to try to chime in on Lang’s but every time I do he bans me and then says I can come back!

  23. 23
    J R in WV says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet:

    Your big article quote is from 2007, two years before President Obama actually took office. The Walter Reed Army Medical Center was closed in 2011, two years after Obama took office.

    Usually we are in agreement when you post about politics, but in this case you seem to be way off base.

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I won’t knock her (him? maybe, I don’t know) for a typo, but acting like everyone knows what the typo is rubs me the wrong way. Grrrr!

    I gotta start dinner, bye for now.

    Happy New Year, ALL.

    JR

  24. 24
    goblue72 says:

    @J R in WV: I think it was pretty damn clear he/she meant CFPB. It was a pretty significant creation of a new federal agency that was opposed by the GOP every step of the way and in the news a LOT.

    I know mclaren likes to go off the deep end, but she/he makes a heck of a lot more sense in terms of a progressive position on public policy issues than half of the regular commenters here.

  25. 25
    Culture of Truth says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: To be fair, having seen his sitcom, on his Jerry’s skills is making the people around him funny.

    On homelessness, this is typical Obama. Patient, thoughtful, methodical, logical approach to problem solving until the issue is addressed. See also, ebola, in the U.S. and Africa.

  26. 26
    redshirt says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Corvette, not Chevette. It really makes a difference.

    Semantics, really.

  27. 27
    redshirt says:

    @J R in WV: 0-2 in this post friend.

  28. 28
    Tom Levenson says:

    @raven: You are, as they say, fighting the good fight.

  29. 29
    Scapegoat says:

    @mclaren:

    I Blame Obama
    January 1, 2016 at 7:10 pm
    Written by Tom Levenson
    ShareTweetPinMail
    Here’s a piece of unequivocal good news with which to start the last full year of the Obama presidency:

    The executive director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal response on the issue, said in a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio this week that [New York] city had “effectively” ended chronic homelessness among veterans.

    Lives change:

    In 2015 alone, the city placed more than 1,000 veterans in permanent housing, according to city officials. Several weeks ago, at Clinton Avenue Residence, a new 43-unit development in the Bronx specifically for veterans, several men dragged garbage bags with their belongings through the gleaming lobby and into their studio apartments.

    “I woke up and there wasn’t a person sleeping three feet away,” Eric Peters, 54, an Air Force veteran who has been in and out of homelessness for decades, said the next morning.

    Mednyánszky,_László_-_Reclining_Soldier_(ca_1916)

    New York City is doing better than many places, though not uniquely so. Homelessness among vets is down 36% nationwide, and, as The New York Times reports,

    Houston, Las Vegas and New Orleans, among several cities, [have] effectively ending overall veteran homelessness, meaning they have identified all homeless veterans, not just the chronic cases, and placed them in homes.

    Why has this happened? Because:

    The city’s efforts are part of a broader federal initiative, started under President Obama and aimed at ending veteran homelessness in the United States. The federal housing agency, working in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, has now distributed 79,000 rental assistance vouchers to veterans across the country dating to 2008.

    Three cheers for both the hard work being done at both the national and local levels. I hope the program serves as a model to tackle homelessness writ large — but I have no problem with selecting veterans as the first to demonstrate that the world’s last superpower does not in fact have to house its people in cardboard boxes.

    But I do want to point out what’s obvious in this crowd, and should be so in the wide world: this is what respect — and more, support — for those who serve our military looks like. The next time your wingnut acquaintance spouts about the Muslim Kenyan Usurpers disregard for the armed services, point this out to her or him — and ask him which GOPster has made this a priority.

    Happy new year all. Going to be an interesting ride in this year of our [insert pasta shape here] 2016

    Image: Ladislav Medňanský, Reclining Soldier, c. 1916.

    Previous Post
    25 Responses
    1
    RaflW says:
    January 1, 2016 at 7:15 pm
    I find it disgraceful in the extreme that the GOP can get away with the baseless charges they make re: Obama and respect for the military. Republicans would happily stuff every cannon with young people, and then budget-cut the V.A. into a humanitarian disaster.

    Our generally awful press does far too little to explain the contrast in party policy positions and impacts they would have on active duty as well as discharged or retired vets.

    ReplyReply
    2
    raven says:
    January 1, 2016 at 7:19 pm
    @RaflW: And none of this is going to change shit to most vets.

    ReplyReply
    3
    Tom Levenson says:
    January 1, 2016 at 7:21 pm
    @raven: This is one, it seems to me, where the old Obama organizing adage is most true: that changes only when and as vets who know about this and care speak to their vet friends about it. Some middle aged pointed headed academic spouting off on a blog is not going to do much — but if doing so brings the necessary material to those who can make good use of it, then that’ll do.

    ETA: That road is slow, I’ll admit. But slow is better than non-existant.

    ReplyReply
    4
    Hildebrand says:
    January 1, 2016 at 7:31 pm
    I will gladly post all of this info on the Facebook feeds of my wing-nut relatives who re-post the memes decrying the US accepting Syrian refugees whilst countless Vets are still homeless.

    ReplyReply
    5
    mclaren says:
    January 1, 2016 at 7:32 pm
    One of Obama’s PR problems is that the good stuff he does fails to qualify as “spectacular amazing cool” newsworthy items. JFK says “Let’s go to the moon,” huge headlines. Spectacular amazing cool stuff.

    Obama says, “Let’s end homelessness.” Not spectacular, not amazing, not cool. No headlines.

    Other great achievements of the Obama administration (and I am serious as a heart attack about this):

    No corruption. Zero. Nada. Bupkiss. Diddly…. Not one scandal.

    The treatment of Edward Snowden (and greatly increased prosecution of whistleblowers during Obama’s administration), while not a “scandal” per say, is nothing short of scandalous.

    Very happy with Obama otherwise and simply can’t understand his administration’s intolerance for dissent.

  30. 30
    NorthLeft12 says:

    I know a key part of politics is to publicly flog every good thing you do, but I greatly admire Pres. Obama and his administration for just doing this and righting a wrong without putting a great deal of effort into making announcements about it.
    Seems to me that congressional Dems should be bringing this up with constituents in the context of “the majority party in Congress can’t seem to do this on their own and I fully support our President in bypassing the Republicans and reducing the number of homeless vets by [the dreaded] executive order.

    Really, is that so hard?

  31. 31
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @efgoldman:

    I actually owned a Chevette, drove it into the ground — can’t remember the final mileage now, but it was my only car for about 12-13years, and eventually got me from Battle Creek, MI to Atlanta.

  32. 32
    goblue72 says:

    Also, for the record, the shift in focus of HUD resources towards homelessness began under George W. Bush, not Obama. Including addressing vets homelessness. (Under Bush, HUD dramatically realigned away from HUD’s traditional focus on subsidized multifamily housing (aka public and privately subsidized housing for low income renters) and towards the two ends of the housing spectrum – homeownership and homelessness. For the former, we know how that all wound up. For the later, Bush was actually relatively in tune with the progressive position on how to best address chronic homelessness – through Housing First strategies that moved away from traditional emergency shelter & transitional housing and instead focused permanent subsidized housing with wrap-around social services. It was one of the few areas where the Bush Administration actually put its money where its mouth was on “compassionate conservatism”.

    Obama continued the Bush Administration strategies in this area, but with additional focus and resources. Not to say that Obama doesn’t deserve kudos – just that the actual history of this public policy area is a bit more nuanced.

  33. 33
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Almost time for Sherlock.

  34. 34
    Tom Levenson says:

    @goblue72: Thanks for the corrective.

    @Omnes Omnibus: My family and I are going to see that in a movie theater next week. No spoilers!

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Tom Levenson: Okay, fine.

  36. 36
    Scapegoat says:

    @Scapegoat:

    Sorry for the raft of garbage at #31 (and FUiOS… WTF?).

    Should have solely been:

    “No corruption. Zero. Nada. Bupkiss. Diddly…. Not one scandal.”

    The treatment of Edward Snowden (and greatly increased prosecution of whistleblowers during Obama’s administration), while not a “scandal” per say, is nothing short of scandalous.

    Very happy with Obama otherwise and simply can’t understand his administration’s intolerance for dissent.

  37. 37
    pluege says:

    The next time your wingnut acquaintance spouts about the Muslim Kenyan Usurpers disregard for the armed services, point this out to her or him

    the hypocrisy and mendacity of wingnuts is wwwaaaayyyy too great to ever have a discussion with them – doing so is pure fool’s errand

  38. 38
    goblue72 says:

    @Tom Levenson: No problem. Its a professional level public policy area of mine.

    I’d also add that Bush’s move away from multifamily housing for low income households – which Obama sorta/kinda continued- is now bearing fruit – in the form of a dramatically escalating housing affordability among low and moderate income renters in most major urban centers outside of the anemic Rust Belt.
    (Obama made it a little bit better, but not dramatically – in part due to the various other demands related to the housing crisis that left little resources for rental housing, and then the GOP took over and it really went to hell)

  39. 39
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @J R in WV: Sorry I wasn’t clearer.

    The WaPo Walter Reed story was intended to be a true, impossible to counter, example of W’s love of the vets. Walter Reed was a horrible stain on the country. But it was just a symptom of the lack of care that W’s administration, and his enablers, gave to people who were damaged and broken as a result of his decisions.

    It was intended to be another example to counter the “Obama hates the troops” meme.

    HTH.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  40. 40
    dogwood says:

    @NorthLeft12:
    The media is “wired for republicans” because republicans work hard at promoting their narratives. The minute anything happens a coordinated response goes out. When your’re the only ones talking, you’re going to get the ink and the air time. Hell, they get all the ink here. I appreciate the commenters who provide links to interesting things the president has done in terms of interviews etc. because those things are not front page material here or on most liberal blogs. If i came out of an 8 year coma today and logged onto BJ, might have to go back a ways into the archive to see what this Obama fellow even looks like. It’s hard to expect the media to give more time to democrats and progressives when we don’t do it ourselves.

  41. 41
    gene108 says:

    @dogwood:

    The media is “wired for republicans” because republicans work hard at promoting their narratives. The minute anything happens a coordinated response goes out. When your’re the only ones talking, you’re going to get the ink and the air time.

    Ever since Watergate, billionaire conservatives have spent big bucks to put their thumbs on the scale of America’s public discourse.

    It isn’t a coincidence so many right-wing thing tanks sprung up in the mid-1970’s, along with right-wing magazines and newspapers in the 1980’s and the finally Fox News in the 1990’s.

    There are no liberal billionaires and if there are any none of them are willing to throw millions of dollars down money draining ventures, such as think tanks or print-media that do not turn a profit and exist solely to advance their owner’s ideological agenda.

  42. 42
    rikyrah says:

    this is news that our President has done that the MSM won’t report.

  43. 43
    Tom Levenson says:

    @rikyrah: the info above comes from The New York Times. FTR, that’s pretty much the definition of mainstream media coverage.

  44. 44

    @gene108:

    Ever since Watergate, billionaire conservatives have spent big bucks to put their thumbs on the scale of America’s public discourse.

    I would actually suggest that it dates back to the Powell Memo, which was ’71 but the timing is close. Watergate did serious damage to their brand but that just pissed them off more and maybe put them into overdrive. The think tanks and consolidation of our media is outlined in the Powell memo. The Nixon administration, even before Powell’s memo went out, had already taken steps to marginalize and even criminalize the kind of dissent we saw at the ’68 Democratic Convention….

    “”The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar Left, and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.””

    John Ehrlichman, Nixon WH Counsel

    Bill Moyers on the Powell Memo:
    http://billmoyers.com/content/.....porations/

  45. 45

    Hmmm, Moderation? The site is acting funky again.

  46. 46
    grandpa john says:

    @efgoldman: I have owned and driven both and the only one I still wish I had was the 327 300HP 65 red 4 in the floor Corvette. I may be 78, but if I had it, I would still drive around with the top down and the heater running

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