94-year-old double military widow finds herself homeless and denied help from 12 agencies

Vin Scully “Village of the Voice of the Veterans”

Vin Scully: People love it when they hear me say ‘It’s time for Dodger Baseball’, but I ask you to join me in saying it’s time to end veteran homelessness.

At 94, Rose Burgess had already lost two veteran army husbands and was legally blind. Her daughter had died suddenly and soon she would have no place to live. Police Assistant Chris Dyer was on duty when Rose walked in with nowhere to go. He knew that homelessness was dangerous enough for young people, but it would be a death sentence in a few weeks for Rose. He also knew where to turn for help and immediately emailed GCVF – Gold Coast Veterans Foundation… “All Hands On Deck! ”

The Camarillo charity, known for saving the most damaged homeless veterans, has taken action. But they quickly found that virtually any public or private agency providing housing assistance was prohibited from helping Rose. By government rules, she was wealthy enough to fend for herself.

The annual income required to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Oxnard is over $ 60,000, and Rose’s income was $ 3,300 per month. Although twenty thousand less than actual needs, it is above the government’s “low income” cut-off. Rose had also rented a Subaru for her daughter to use for shopping. She had multiple storage units and storage space for a vintage travel trailer that may have starred in a movie with Lucy and Desi. These expenses took her further away from the possibility of paying rent.

“We have helped thousands of veterans and their families, and saved 87 from homelessness,” says GCVF Director Bob Harris; “But this is the first time we have to save a 94 year old blind widow because 12 social service agencies refused to help her… we never saw this one coming.” He adds; “Of course, the system doesn’t want to hurt people like Rose, but that income threshold was going to put her on the streets anyway.”

Saint-Vincent-de-Paul de Ventura and individual donations from police officers covered an emergency motel room, keeping Rose safe until the GCVF could find a long-term solution. They began the enormous task of condensing her storage space, finding a buyer for the trailer, finding an affordable senior’s apartment, and moving it in before the motel’s funding ran out. Case manager Donna Lockwood took Rose to Kirby Subaru in Ventura, who very graciously picked up the car without any of the typical “early termination” penalties or fees.

Between the commercial gesture of the concession and the reduction in her monthly expenses, Rose was finally able to have housing. Rescue team leader Rafael Stoneman personally covered several urgent expenses and United Way of Ventura funded the move-in costs. GCVF was then able to install it in a retirement home with meals. After putting everything in a storage locker, they even helped sell the trailer (to another veteran’s son).

“We catch the veterans who fall through the cracks” is the slogan of the GCVF; this time they caught an elderly widow before she became homeless. “We perform these miracles every day, but we can’t do it alone,” says Harris; “United Way, St. Vincent de Paul, Chris Dyer and his fellow officers, and the great people at Kirby Subaru have all come together to save Rose. We need the support of the community today to achieve the miracle of tomorrow.

At 10 a.m. on November 9, the Ventura County Oversight Council will suspend its formal board meeting to recognize the organizations that have worked together on this life-saving rescue. The rescue team, Rose Burgess, 94, and supporters of the team’s community will participate in the board meeting via teleconference from the VCCF non-profit center (4001 Mission Oaks Bl., Camarillo 93012 ). The conference call will be highlighted with a personal message from Dodgers baseball legend (and Navy veteran) Vin Scully, who is volunteering as “the voice of the veterans village, The Gold Coast Veterans Foundation’s upcoming housing and healing program for homeless veterans.



The Gold Coast Veterans Foundation provides everything to prevent or end suffering & homelessness for veterans. All services are provided free of charge. http://www.gcvf.org (805) 482-6550

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