A proposal to help Downey's veterans and aging residents

Senior Hispanic Couple Riding Bikes In Park

A new nonprofit is launching in Downey over the next several weeks specifically to provide services for returning veterans, senior citizens on fixed incomes, disabled seniors or those seniors experiencing daily life as a shut-in.

Assistance is in the form of services and limited funding as described below and is provided by prequalified homeless program participants and returning vets, both of which are looking to stabilize their environment before deciding on a permanent service career or other career option.

Simply stated the project functions as follows: Without using any funding from any governmental source, donated funds are used to rent 3- or 4-bedroom homes in the community. A qualified homeless individual or returning veteran that we refer to as a “house and home captain” is selected to supervise the maintenance of the property as well as the qualified residents.

All residents, including the house and home captain, are paid a weekly salary based on their individual qualifications ranging from a service trainee, service specialist or house and home captain.

The name of the non-profit is Homeless & Senior Hero’s, Inc. The reason “senior” is in the name is because some seniors may wish to rent their property to the non-profit for rental income and become house and home captains to also earn a salary. Professional social workers will provide guidance for all of the house and home captains.

As of the 2010 census, Downey has 2.211 households with a person age 65 or older living alone. For the seniors who avail themselves of our services, the non-profit will provide up to $50 a month to offset the cost of meds and food. All Homeless Hero’s services are free to seniors.

The financial model for Homeless Hero’s is very similar to the Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) financial model whereby donations and grants drive financial support to struggling seniors and those homeless and returning vets looking to gain a new foothold on life as grants and donations drive content for PBS stations.

Once our business model is perfected in Downey it will be expanded on a county by county basis as funds become available. Donations are not limited to the residents of Downey and are accepted from all states, the District of Columbia and all possessions.

We clearly understand not all of the homeless are capable or interested in supporting our rapidly growing senior population nor will all seniors be interested in our services and/or financial assistance. That said, all of our Homeless Hero’s and returning vets are eager to provide assistance and have had a background check and are bonded.

Our immediate and focused goal is to demonstrate proof of concept here in Downey so that all of our nation’s citizens can clearly see and provide the help to begin to solve three rapidly growing social issues (homelessness, aging seniors in need of assistance and returning vets needing a stable environment to establish or reestablish themselves)

Fifty-five point seven per cent (55.7%) of the US population are over the age 18 and under the age of 65 per the census bureau as of 2018. That leaves about 183 million adults of which about fifty one per cent (51%) or about 92 million (according to the Pew Research Center) are in the middle to upper middle income brackets. If ten percent (10%) would be willing to donate $10 a month, we could have the potential to raise $1.1 billion which of course is not likely in the near term. But we come to this project with a long term view and will set goals based on our performance in Downey.

We have begun to accept donations via the internet and the GoFundMe app. Utilizing the app on your smart phone or gofundme.com on your computer. Simply look for the search window and type in zip code 90242 once on the Downey scroll down until you find “see more” and click on that title and then scroll down until you find the Homeless & Senior Hero’s title with a picture of a man standing beside a light pole at Apollo Park.

That man is long time Downey resident William (Bill or Billy) Hayes who grew up in Downey and graduated from Warren High School in 1980. After graduation Bill became interested in the tool and die business where he worked his way up to supervising a small group of workers. During grammar and high school, Bill lived in a house directly adjacent to Apollo Park allowing him to play basketball daily after school and make many friends over the years. Bill has been homeless for a number of years now and has been providing handyman services to all who ask including seniors who have come to know him. Bill is extremely well respected and liked by the homeless and non-homeless. Bill will be our first house and home captain once adequate funds are available.

Each month we’ll produce an announcement of a new member joining the team. Next month you’ll be introduced to Jeremy Ferguson, a 28-year-old from Downey. We believe his story will be quite inspiring to many.

The following are the initial services we’ll be providing: house cleaning, laundry service, fluff and fold, dry cleaning, carpet cleaning, trash removal, lawn care, Meals On Wheels delivery as volunteers, transportation, home maintenance (i.e. installation and maintenance of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, leaky faucets, changing light bulbs, etc.), referrals to other social services, to name a few of our services.

The preamble to our nation’s Constitution begins with, “We the People” and Homeless & Senior Hero’s believe with the support of “The People,” this ambitious project will be successful.

We plan to launch in April and at that time we’ll publish the different methods of contacting us, including social media. Until then you can talk to us at (714) 342-8769 if you have questions or comments.

Thank you in advance for any and all of your most kind considerations.

Watch us perform!

Dennis Billings is a senior citizen living in Downey, and president and CEO of Homeless & Senior Hero’s Inc.

OpinionDennis Billings