Nov 7, 2013|
Angela talks about the rising percentage of homeless women in New Orleans with Prescola Williamson and Candi Johnson of the New Orleans Mission Women's Center.
We're discussing the hot topics of the day with co-host of First Take, Todd Menesses.
Angela discusses the shooting in Lafayette and says farewell to WWL as she hands her timeslot off to Scoot.
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Angela talks with WWL-TV investigative reporter Katie Moore and Tulane law professor Tania Tetlow about the city's backlog of uninvestigated rape cases.
Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)
And I appreciate you staying with -- we have another very interesting hour ahead. You have no doubt seen the crowds of homeless people under the expressway. Or individuals sitting on bus stop benches or sleeping partially hidden among downtown buildings. What is now different in that picture is the growing number of women who were there numbers that have been rising dramatically in the last year. There are 66%. More homeless women in New Orleans than there were last year. And equally disturbing number is 92% of them have been physically or sexually abused. The New Orleans mission is addressing the issue head on. And that's who we're talking with this hour press column Williamson director of the women's program at the -- mission and she is a counselor. And also joining us is candy Johnson who was homeless and also serve time for crack cocaine. Today she lives at the mission is turning her life around. And serving as a house mother helping others and I appreciate you both of -- ladies and thinking thinking can't I wanna start with Steve because I think that people. It in this community we see it all over -- barely go to -- Four way stop we don't see someone holding -- -- -- homeless. How did you become homeless. When did you become homeless. Well at ten months ago. Night when I got violated Purdue and cracked on probation violator in me they stunned me and Tallulah. Jail for ninety days. And I -- wanna go back in my situation. So I got excepted to it jail. To go to ninth mission. And I ended up there. And I -- than ever since the meaning of Hammond agreed time OK look let's kind of go back to. What got 21 crack how long you were on. It's two days a week for about eight months. -- I was using an a for pain. Because I originally got him probation and parole for doing -- And on islands on parole. In I've seen did not do everything to life I decided to try to crack. For pain in order. And then I had up by they had done that I a year in test on me. And they sent a response. So I had to do they colonize and you turn around. With T due ninety days. To clean your act up. Can decide we wanna go from there. And once I -- -- accepted norms mission. I decided. To not go back in my own environment. -- environment is not into -- -- -- south -- -- who who were you homeless there. Yes and Kenny kind of lead me down that I think at one point you were living at home or apartment -- -- -- I had my own planes but the -- there was. Kind of fallen apart. And I had two roommates. The only in the when I mean not knowing they were on drugs and deal with them. And I was a doorman that cracked -- And that's when I decided to do it and leave that behind you were a doorman and doorman and -- And that people in in that. All night long. And you what you were not on crack originally now. And this started doing it for pain and it since it was so readily available. And it was very. That I started doing for paint. And then seemed to work. And then I see what happens to people need to. A back at that the trip you were living with two roommates to another run drugs right falling apart. -- you literally sleeping in the streets and any time. Now. Then I was living in intended to hand them no no lights. No food. So is basically homeless could -- we don't have your essential. And then Indies that used to have when you -- heat no lights no food. And need to stay there because I wanna be in public be cracked. -- some people have been known me know men talk a lot. And I am very smiley. The one I'm on cracked I don't talk and I stare and I scare people and so I decided to stay in this trailer. In live to terminal food in light. Yes. How did you get money for food that you -- Let's see I was getting disability that my roommates stole my ATM card. And they would like get rice. In one form on meet its that was it it's only half. Indian -- know in did not recognize. The high. That he was taken my money. And steal my money from me. In it was really it really bad tour got down 89 pounds. And that was a year ago in June this happened. Tell me about you growing up did you have sort of regular childhood and -- I did and a handle on abuse. -- and three fathers when it's rough on him to step on -- on the clock on politics. In my mother became a -- -- Hours around an environment but I really didn't -- affect -- -- older. And I -- new pills. On my mother did you go to high school. Yes but I was bad student. I could -- -- -- ADHD. HT AD. And I guess that on my childhood affected me being in school. I couldn't sit still I couldn't function and stuff like that it parts cooling zones and I really didn't let that affect my person. I just drive people crazy and they let me in death. But two warring what I'm saying is that I think abuse it happened I was trying to suppress it. In trying to live date Monday. Never had -- -- stability in all. At some point did you move away from your family and literally as I left him in California. -- -- in Louisiana thirty years. And so did you work here did you. Now now I didn't work. I mean I didn't I was in dancer. In Morgan City. Our -- or long and Cindy. Most under the tape of job. But I could never keep the job because then -- -- bipolar. And I do have a little bit of problem dealing with. Working a regular nine to -- job. So I found it always easier for me was to go dancing. And nine. It's just I think again -- wonderful to open your life to us. Because I think there's always been a curiosity of how does one male or female and up under a bridge or in a trailer with no electricity no food. How does that happen. And equally how does that happen. That all of a sudden you have found -- mission and it has turned her life right or crack Fareed. You are in position now truly of helping other people. I want everyone to stay with this and don't hesitate to call Lynn if you would like to me to talk to candy -- talk about your own personal experience or your thoughts on homelessness. We'll be back but again we're gonna talk about the growing number of women who are homeless right after this we're talking about the growing number of women who are now homeless and we've been talking to candy Johnson who. Is now with the New Orleans mission and is of the house -- But has had quite a life and I think that's what we're hearing news. A very unstable childhood. A series of fathers who alcoholics. A mother you called her -- pill head and then a life of irregularity in your own life. Ultimately ending up -- for thirteen months. 44. Pills at saint -- rank and then again another short term and you just made up your mind I'm done with this Sunday trying to turn it around. She just in the commercial made the most amazing statement it was at saint Gabriel. Where you were listening to a woman who once a house mother at saint Gabriel town and you said that's what I wanna do. -- and in fact that's exactly which -- doing and I just think it's very interesting that all of us everybody needs to us. A person to aspire to and it's just very interesting -- -- that moment in jail you know it's got work -- it is that's exactly right. So for the last ten months you've been at the mission and you are clean from crack cocaine right. And a lot of people listening would say that's kind of miraculous unto itself. And yes one addictive. I hit that every day -- You also -- your meeting all the men and women who come into the mission right. And what are you hearing from them about their homelessness how they got to where they are. While they explained to me and they they cant take seeing more they had another. I'm living under the bridge. And doing drugs and alcohol under the bridge and that's how they -- everything when they are and the money. -- they can't find these sources for it they come to me -- Because they heard about the next we help an everywhere. We can't. For women and this is what. If so startling to me is being phenomenal increase it to 66% increase. With in the last year and interest cola as a counselor and someone at the mission from last year what do you all attribute that. That number two. I think did the numbers -- have arisen because a lot of them mental health issues. I'm not the mental health issues the clients I experiences and they have physical abuse. He has drugs and alcohol. All of this and it is getting worse. And so be -- at a number of women coming in. Just to shun violence. From this significant they're all even children in the home that don't want them and they can't contribute. Come to the home they would just put the motor industry. The -- a lot of problems out there that causes women to be home. On the other figured that we had was it all of those women on the street 92%. Of them. Have been either sexually or physically abused. Now we're talking. They've been abuse since they were on the street. Is that is that correct yes -- on the street they have been physically or sexually abused more so before that. You know in the home especially if they have an abusive. Significant other and then they would get kicked down the street and want to get kicked out it would be just more abuse. So I guess. And I drive by and I see a group of men under the average or and where I now work I think it's actually sleeping against the building. I look at how vulnerable they are and yet. For women it's got to be more self. Because of fear of rape and and be abused like that. Yes one of the things that has astounded me was that a lot of the women who are under the bridge they chose to be there. We would literally go there invite them into the mission. I allowed him to take bats and give them personal. Hi team -- packets and they would take it accept it and -- back into the breach. Want. Because of the mental health OK yes I'm not mental health issues and some of them want to do drugs. And if they know that once they come to the mission the very -- you know in our dealings with people. You that you get into the mission under three ways -- half against as a disciple -- muscle work there. But the L rules and they don't want to Obey the rules they want to come in and they want to. And do what they want to so -- -- -- to stay under the bridge and through and do what they need to do so if a to either abuse of women come in and they say oh yes. Last week I was raped when I was trying to sleep or something like that -- And yet they go back they wouldn't get ready go go back they would come and crying and we would share the love of god -- would give them. A personal space in on time to themselves to process what just happened to them and the minute they feel better they would go right. Karzai and I if I find Nittany tell me that there are lonely. They don't light the light to be with a bunch of people. But some of them have house since. You -- -- place to sleep for the night that they wanna go right back -- they come and sleep eat. Get their and their arrests and you know there weren't in the right back out there's a lot and -- -- house that's. But they they seem to and during the day these Stanton raped they get high and drink alcohol. But they want to be with people. And it says it's very sad and they would because they're just perpetuating. Jena and -- cycle and the risk is of course enormous as well -- Safety he just back where their friends are in a sense from -- -- because that's where the -- but they could also find that in the mission they just don't wanna give up the alcohol right -- And discipline -- the most important. Yes absolutely so. Having to live by rules and is what can -- known on -- by rules and -- we all would like maybe perhaps not too but it doesn't work that way and. And really did -- In dividends on the on the program there in. And then they they frown on that -- it's it's very unusual. For them to frown on that you have to deal with the testing. To make sure you're not -- doing drugs to light in an instant and as a rule. Do the people who. If they don't have funds and we see them standing in the corners and they're saying you know little -- -- -- -- to work for food on hungry whenever they want money that's on the testimony for the drugs and -- -- alcohol. Some of them they have disabilities. And so they would spend that they would spend that money. That they get footage disability buying drugs and and that is over an eagle on the street and put out the cards. And recently have noticed that the once it came to the mission and be recognized found. They would try to hide Newman when they see this coming because we know that they on disability and is still trying to ask people for. You know money for for the for additional drug and alcohol in their lives. How can they get on disability. -- one of the things is drugs and alcohol is a form of disability. And it is considered a form of disability and if it would have mental health issues with it and they go through the process. And it just happened in the company. In the system Social Security. Okay stay with -- everyone we're gonna continue to talk about homelessness and down. Continue to talk to a woman who spent many years in a very difficult situation and is really turning it around. But now let's join the newsroom and Chris Miller know Don -- well I think we're learning a lot about homelessness. Listening to candy Johnson who has been homeless. Who is now at the New Orleans mission and preschool Williamson who's now head of the women's center at the mission. It's you know it's a complex issue and I'm really hearing what you're saying. All good intentions. Of trying to help people. But they -- have to want that help youths and so they returned to go under the bridge science a because. They don't wanna live within the rules of the various agencies coming and and it what I guess what is the answer to that what can we do. To say. Women -- this is not listening. We'll put a New Orleans mission personally. I see it as a spiritual and lack of spirituality. So when they come into the mission. Me. We have them. Enrolled in 304 programs and one of three in one afternoon for programs either as a -- which is -- -- they can come. And get to help you need and leave. Then we have the one you decide that your program. That he would help you find a house than a job. Help you save your money and you know get your own apartment and all of that. And the mostly in almost important to me help you with his spirituality. And we find that fills a stage. And get that spirituality they they tend to keeping housing. They tend to not want to go mystery -- tend to reconnect with family. So that I think if we can get that product cannot be alive straightened because it. Now candy. So you're in the one year program. And you again have become like the house mother and you're hearing all of the stories of both men and women who come in writing what frustrates she used having been there. Having had mental issues and drug issues what frustrates you. When you here's some of these stories. Well early dance because. They have an -- But bikers aimed at -- the rules. Regulations. And I explained to them and again I I interviewed them before they go into another office. So about how we -- -- things -- ship it's three times today chapel. Saturday -- please find your own church on Sundays and there is extra a -- practiced. And I think that there's beans they -- hand -- stabilization. Is -- what they need and they're scared. And -- them but the control issued to -- -- control. We we want we want to come in for low -- -- And they wanna deal -- feel -- out for a little while before they beat Killen disciple. And I try to -- them you know in to be in safe it's safe here you don't have to worry about the whole year. To relax. Indeed injured a viable. And learn who you -- as a person. In get to -- yourself and others. And I'm just looking into and I'm thinking. You know two years ago you were like among them in a sense and something snapped in new -- to -- enough. Well I'm really not been -- trouble in my life as far as drugs alcohol because of my parents did it. I see what happens to others when they do get involved entrance hall. But. I did swung the wrong Roca and in -- -- spiritual life. Per say like and doing now. It's little different than me being disciple through the mail. This is their hands on to cypress chip program. And we have to do. Are we don't have to do but you have to think of your mind where you -- -- -- life. And we're only get a woman in there with all of them. Hugs and kisses all the time. And they have that that that sell this cell work they can get from doing so we really land mine. But I did talk to me and women. That I have a friend of mine and says he needs help want to get up alcohol. But he has money is -- On seven money's gone he will be. But it's hard for them I made in Sydney chapel today and still there. Has since stay. Beulah hill -- But it -- control issue of colonial chapel. And rules and regulations. That we have compared to that gets. Against a -- little bit different. I give them some many days. Blaming you wondered two days to make up their mind I try to get him in the same -- becoming. And I will tell them having your -- have have you had some successes. A lot. Oh that's great land and then -- all right now probably because here on the weather. But I try to -- -- in trying to get him and sunk the ship the same day -- mean. Stay with us we're gonna continue our talk about. Homelessness. The complexity of -- and perhaps some solutions on activist. Thank you for joining us were continuing our top with candy Johnson and fresco Williamson. Both at the New Orleans mission -- running a women's center and candy is now one of the disciples who was a one year program that time. Really helps will want you say it one more time it's giving you -- Whole year. AK -- whole year. We do require that to go to chapel three times today. One hour on Saturday and you find your own church on Sunday. And it keeps you stable. Key to close critic. When every year. Domenici. Is. You have only years take -- timing is safe. I know that you are wanting to stay at the mission and continued to being in the house mother -- is good but for others who will finish that. A twelve month program the goal is to get them housing paint job we connected with family -- That's really what the one years about. Yes that's a -- one hears about what we do when you come in the first month. You're allowed to stand for the first eighty days to use they not commissions that you can't really think about if this is what to want. To become spirit you know spiritually fated to. If he wants housing if you want a job if you wanna reconnect it to family and that's -- -- when he came in and quite a bit of the clients tolls that. Because a lot of them want to reconnect especially to women that the families. And children because it's hard on the street it's hotter of the industries and and once you tell them. What they can enjoy a -- come into the mission. You know it. And some of their lives and well and she said get 86 now yes and that one your program yes 86 and he had to twelve graduated. In September and in December Musharraf about eighteen to twenty. My graduation. I think that's the most encouraging thing I heard there is a program set up. That can give the best shot went on guarantee he has been shot of turning. Once -- off one track and onto another more productive healthier track yes and away from. Frankly the dangers of history to understand what you're saying Kenny about. The people who want you know. Spend the night there and then turn around and then go -- the bridge again not because it's that's their world and they don't wanna give up the dry hill that are fair and get. To get out of that situation only been in so long it's like anything else can you do for a long period of time. It's like an addiction it's hard to get out of it. And a lot of the people who come in. Because they have not experienced the love from families of the people. Even if they leave it would come back. They when when they think about how we treated them give them three meals today he used any clothing be held firm. If they have a problem is confident helped them solve their problems. Just sharing the -- I'm not criticizing them full formal way of the fall where they came from our. Criticizing them for being in jail and out of that you know they come up for more. So love is what is keeping them. And -- from coming back to and you have become the family yes and you are the -- mother. -- and I do help people with Cologne as questions. Lawyers to help them and dinner and doing intake. On the first personality. And I and slumped is too good choice talk until he has getting answer any questions in my hand. But also because you make it known that you've been where they are -- And so it is that's that's important as it is. I even tried to give me information on man on health and any kind of help and then that's from its fiscal that comes in. And we we have our means every morning an amount that. -- do anything we can possible. It was interesting. For skull was -- coming from the Bahamas -- would have never seen homeless. Person not on the street because. It is considered a family affair. So if someone. Need to place if they some family member will put put them up. Because if it's almost like an embarrassment to the family. So it was kind of like a culture shock for me. But I love -- and that's why -- got into counseling. -- enough to help people and -- got twelve. Well we're gonna wrap this up in a moment and we gonna have a little appeal because if you want to help there's a place you can help. But first get ready because coming up shortly we'll announce the code word in the 1000 dollar nationwide holiday cash contest under the -- you well. Well again we are talking about homelessness were talking about the real complexity of the situation. But also the growth in the number of women who are now homeless. And as press Goler has said who was a counselor at the mission that is primarily because of mental illness. Because of drug and alcohol abuse and rejection by family. So now there are more women and you all are hoping to expand the number of beds available. You were telling -- you have 200. 2040 beds but 218 of them were from Romania -- rights of the restaurant -- and just went into the and you hope to expand tournament. Is I'm 38 in the very near future and probably within the next few years you won two expanded to a 5200. He again hoping that the majority yes well not just been announced but will commit to a life changing. The many things you do to help them. Yes. -- lifestyle a lifestyle change that will bring him. Better future for them in the family and children especially. -- I'm looking into candy and I'm thinking. You've you've gotten to a point your life -- you have changed and you were now content to content. And if you look back on your life. And you think you've had some rough bumps there. Major rough -- area but if you could do anything differently would you know. Now and that it. In my -- mission is to help doctors annually to it. And so you're at the right place -- dying. And having been through mental illness and through drug and alcohol. People can associate with. Not every day all the time I -- from. Town -- how what's going around with me speak I'm not afraid dancer in their quest. On the mission always needs help and certainly as they read continue to build they will need financial help. But you brought up something for -- which I think is very very good thing for Christmas of people in this time of the year really wanna help. What would you suggest. If there's anyone out there who would like to help the -- in New Orleans mission. I thought about it great idea. And that is knowing that the women. How they have clothing and Amish who's in other things that you know people give them. But all of them I use stuff this Christmas I would love to give them a gift comment. -- have a tiny five maybe thirty dollars they I can put all of them innovate and take him to Wal-Mart and they can buy something new. You know something new that they can say I bought this and they can -- and feel good about it just helping them to get integrated back into the community. That you get you know you go to the shopping you can buy -- which in the it and and and discourages and make plans for future if I get and how someone or some people out there to give us some gift cards. That I can give to the women put it Christmas gift that'll be great Anthony's car and you would personally be with him and I will take them shopping and yes enjoy seeing them come become. A normal part of the society one more time. Well I cannot thank you both for coming on it really has been enlightening to me. And I admire both of what -- trying to -- and candy continued success to him.