Home for the Holidays

Veteran Shares His Story at Recent Task Force on Homelessness Meeting

By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter

In a packed room full of community members at Palisades Branch Library, the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness and The People Concern Outreach Team presented a speaker panel in an open meeting on November 18.

“Everything you’ve told me has come true,” said Scott Davis, a veteran who spoke on the panel about his transition out of homelessness.

Glanda Sherman, an outreach specialist, introduced the speakers who came to talk about how the outreach team works and what process they take their clients through.

Other members on the panel included Alex Gittinger, program manager, Jessie Cortez, outreach engagement specialist, Jennifer Deleon-Dukes, clinical case manager, and Jamie Gallardo, housing navigator.

The panel also included two special guests: Housing Owner/Operations Manager Marc Panetta, a landlord who accepts housing vouchers and fulfills a critical role in the transition process, and Davis, a current outreach team client who shared his touching personal success story about transitioning out of homelessness to the room.

Davis was approached one day by Sharon Kilbride, chair of the Law Enforcement Coordination Committee, who said to him, “Are you panhandling again?”

It was at that time they formed a relationship and decided to work together to find a solution.

Davis’ story began when Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane that fell on Texas in 2017, caused catastrophic flooding.

“It salt-watered my jeep,” Davis said. “It got really expensive.”

He shared that he camped for 39 days helping other Hurricane Harvey victims and after that, he generated some good money, got his jeep fixed and took off.

“I decided right there to get away from the hurricane circle,” he explained. “There’s going to be more and more problems.” He went north, but couldn’t find affordable living.

Being a former veteran, Davis decided to go back and find the landlord that he had in the service who was down in Coronado without luck. He must have passed away, Davis said.

“Everything got too expensive, a veteran’s check is little,” Davis shared. “Sharon found me on the beach. The police couldn’t find me because I had a nice dark spot.”

He joked about Kilbride’s persistence. With laughter in the room and smiles from LAPD officers in attendance, he shared how he was reluctant to receive help at first.

Then one day he was with his piece of cardboard at Vons, when Kilbride and Sherman approached him again. This time he agreed to do the paperwork.

“I went and got all the tasks done—it’s easy to do—and I got approved, and on the first, I’m going to go look at an apartment,” said Davis, who received a warm round of applause from the room about his plans for December.

Panetta said that nine out of 10 people who rent apartments work out, and for the one that doesn’t, PPTFH will jump in to assist.

“A lot of the people I know professionally just look at what I do and they shake their heads,” Panetta said. “You kind of learn to fine tune your screening. I have a soft spot for veterans, and most of the folks we place are veterans and they are really wonderful folks.”

Panetta shared that there is an upside for landlords: The rent is automatically transmitted on the first, so it’s are paid on time. He also added that since these tenants have a support team, they often come equipped with appliances and a bed.

Several homeless people attended the meeting, along with concerned citizens driving to the meeting from as far as the Valley, to speak up about their concerns on this issue.

The People Concern Outreach Team has helped 107 homeless individuals transition off the streets of the Palisades, with the funding and support of PPTFH and the Palisades community.

The next community meeting is planned for January 27, 2020.