Things That Matter

A Former J.Lo Dancer Is Found Homeless And Heroin-Addicted But Univision Reunited Her With Her Son

The insidious disease of alcoholism and drug addiction is indiscriminate in its victims. Univision’s Genela Solano recently found Susy Pérez, a former dancer for J.Lo and model, living on the street fighting for her life against a heroin addiction. Solano interviews Pérez in what might be the most heart-breaking news’ interview broadcast ever–ending with Pérez sending a message to her son, who she hasn’t seen in years. 

That is until Solano returns with Pérez’ son, who she hasn’t seen since she first became homeless. 

Susy Pérez came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic, and made it big in the entertainment world.

Credit: Univision / YouTube

The mitad-Boricua and mitad-Dominicana was a model and a dancer for J.Lo. Up until a week ago, she had spent the last five years homeless living on the streets. She told Univision that when her mother died, she was lost without her. That prompted the spiral downwards.

Pérez has survived off the trash of others and the kindness of strangers.

Credit: Univision / YouTube

She told Univision that she’s grateful for the people who have bestowed compassion on her and offered her money or food. Her son has also said that he was giving her money the first couple years she was homeless, not realizing she was a heroin addict and using the money for drugs.

Pérez is a breast cancer survivor, and hasn’t been to the doctor in years.

Both her and her abuela were breast cancer survivors and endured double mastectomies. “She may still have it. It may have come back, because cancer never really leaves,” her son tells Univision.

“Jay, I love you and want you to know you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” she tells the camera, hoping her son will receive the message.

Credit: Univision / YouTube

“Without you, I cannot smile,” she says.  She tells Univision that she wants to get off the drugs but that she can’t because her body has adapted to them. It’s important for people with addiction to have medical supervision as they detox because their bodies could go into shock and die from cardiac arrest.

Three days later, Solano returns with Jay to reunite the mother and son.

Credit: Univision / YouTube

“My love, look over here,” Solano tells Pérez. When she sees Jay from a distance, she tosses her wig on the ground and runs to hug him. She doesn’t let go for several minutes, sobbing into his shoulder. Later, she shouts at the crowd gathered around for the touching moment, “I’m going to fight for my son.”

Jay tells Solano that after his mom left, his father kicked him out of the house for being gay.

Credit: Univision / YouTube

He started living with friends at a young age and was adopted by another family. According to Jay, in his father’s mind, his sexuality was “the last straw” after coping with his mother’s addiction and abandonment. Jay tells Solano that most of his family doesn’t support him. “I haven’t felt safe. He would constantly verbally abuse me because of the way I expressed myself,” Jay tells Solano.

He told Univision that his mom has a herniated disc, broken bones, and has likely contracted HIV or AIDS.

Credit: Univision / YouTube

A car was ready to take Solano to get food, medications, a doctor’s check up and fresh clothes and a shower. According to Solano, they attempted to take her from streets and into the car not once, twice, or three times, but six times before she got in the car. She was very happy to get a fresh haircut but didn’t want to check into a treatment center.

They weren’t able to remove Pérez from the streets.

Univision / YouTube

After experiencing what looked like withdrawal symptoms (irritability, aggression, crying), Pérez stormed off looking for money to buy more drugs. Nearly everyone who has seen the video has offered their prayers that she findS the strength to voluntarily get the help that she needs. 

If someone’s drinking or sobriety is bothering you, there are resources that can help. You are not alone.

Tech Companies Like Apple And Facebook Are Putting Billions Of Dollars Toward Affordable Housing, A Crisis They Created

Things That Matter

Tech Companies Like Apple And Facebook Are Putting Billions Of Dollars Toward Affordable Housing, A Crisis They Created

Unsplash

It’s no hidden secret that affordable housing has become a growing crisis on the West Coast. Cities like San Jose, San Francisco, and Seattle have all seen tech giants come into communities and play a big role when it comes to the huge spike in the cost of living. While Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon have contributed to economic success in these areas, there is a large portion of middle and lower-class residents, mostly Latino and Blacks, who aren’t seeing any of that growth. With an increasing number of tech workers coming into these cities, rising home and rent costs have followed. That in return has created a housing crisis for many.

 In recent months, these tech companies have finally spoken up about the problem by pledging to spend money on building affordable housing in their respective communities. Back in June, Google announced $1 billion while Facebook pledged another $1 billion in October. Apple, earlier this month, said it would devote $2.5 billion. Yet there is increased skepticism and concerns that throwing money at this issue won’t solve anything. 

Tech companies like Google and Amazon have brought in billions of dollars in local tax revenue in cities like San Jose and Seattle. But that success has also created a housing issue for many that can’t afford to live there anymore. 

The rise of these giant tech companies has also meant a rise in the cost of living in the nearby cities that they’re located in. That is evident when looking at the economics of the housing markets and the number of people moving into these communities. Over the last decade, there was an 8.4 percent increase in the total population of the Bay Area, which includes San Francisco and San Jose, but during that same period, the number of housing units grew by less than 5 percent. 

Even as new homes are being built, the prices have become more of a reflection of the new demographic coming in. According to NBC, “Software engineers earn a starting salary of about $160,000 at Apple, Google, and Facebook, 40 percent more than the national average for the same job.”

Many middle-class Latinos and Black families have struggled to find affordable housing in these tech cities and as a result, many are now homeless.  

 Credit: Unsplash

The sight of homelessness and giant RV’s parked on city streets has become an image too familiar in San Jose as many have turned to living out of their cars. In the Bay Area, the issue of homelessness has only been expedited by the rise in home and rent prices which can be attributed to the tech industry in the area. As of now, the Bay Area has the third-largest population of people experiencing homelessness. Ahead of it is New York and Los Angeles, with Seattle just behind. 

What has become evident is that one specific population of people is benefitting from these economic and social gains while others has been somewhat been forgotten. Tamara Mitchell, a volunteer at the Coalition on Homelessness in San Francisco, is one of those that feels like the city has turned it’s back on people like her. 

“It kind of feels like they’re pushing you out of your home,” Mitchell told CNBC. “We’ve been homeless, we’ve been staying in hotels, we’ve been staying with family members – it’s been a lot.”

Making matters worse is the lack of opportunity for some when it comes to those trying to gain from the economic benefits in the area. When it comes to hiring, the most common demographic tech companies hired in 2018 were white and Asian male-identified individuals. Last year, Google employed 95 percent white or Asian individuals and 74 percent of those hired were male. The same trend followed at Apple as the same figures came in at 84 percent and 77 percent, respectively. In return, this has left most of the remaining jobs as lower-wage positions with limited opportunities with the majority of these roles being taken by Latinos and Blacks.  

“We’re being ignored,” Liz González, a contributor at Silicon Valley De-Bug, told CNBC about rising concerns of Google in the Bay Area. “We’re being displaced, and folks who have no long term interests in this community get to decide what it looks like and who gets to live here.”

As these tech companies have made a commitment to try and address the affordable housing crisis in their communities, many wonder if it’s enough or too late altogether. 

Credit: Unsplash

As the more than $4.5 billion in corporate contributions towards affordable housing has been announced, money still may not be enough to fix the problem. Experts say addressing issues like rewriting zoning and permit regulations from local governments, building various housing options besides single-family homes and public transportation alternatives. 

What these tech companies have also realized is that retaining and attracting new employees will become an increasingly prominent issue as housing and rent prices continue to soar. While there is skepticism that affordable housing in the Bay Area and Seattle can be fixed in the near future, some are relieved to finally seeing tech companies acknowledge that there is a problem.

“I don’t think any tech company that has made these new announcements are really thinking their single contribution is solving the housing crisis,” said Kevin Zwick, CEO of Housing Trust Silicon Valley, told CBS. “It doesn’t solve the entire problem, but the fact that they’re joining is a big, important, positive step to getting us to solve the crisis.”

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Homeless Veteran Violently Attacks Elderly Women At Phoenix IHOP

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Homeless Veteran Violently Attacks Elderly Women At Phoenix IHOP

@Robertbox1H / Twitter

Police released horrifying surveillance footage of two elderly women at an IHOP in Phoenix being brutally attacked by a man with a coffee pot. The suspect, Joe Ernest Meza, 47, is a veteran with mental illness and a criminal record, left to live on the streets. Meza was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with the intent to cause injury, and a count of theft and of disorderly conduct each. 

The footage is a harrowing has spawned conversations about the need to better assist veterans with mental illnesses when they return from combat.

The surveillance footage shows two women eating at an IHOP, when a man in a red shirt and sunglasses starts beating one woman’s skull with a coffee pot.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

On Sept. 29, a family with an infant and young child, and two women went to the IHOP on 51st Avenue and McDowell in Phoenix, Arizona, expecting a regular day. Prior to Meza entering the scene, it appears as if everyone is having a normal conversation on a Tuesday. Suddenly, Meza grabs the coffee pot from the table pictured above and starts violently beating two elderly women with the pot.

As the woman tries to defend herself, her friend flees for cover.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

The woman tries to cover her head, but he continues to beat her four times over the head. He stops only after she starts kicking him to create distance. CCTV footage shows her friend fleeing to the kitchen where she stands behind a cook until the ordeal is over.

Gripping her head, the victim tries to flee, but Meza continues to target her.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

Meza appears to back away after she attempts to defend herself, but as she gets up to flee, he starts approaching her again. The restaurant is not empty and onlookers watched in shock as the attack occurred.

As the woman tries to flee, Meza picks up another coffee pot as a weapon.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

Gripping her head, she starts to walk around the back of the booth and down another aisle. Meza remains focused on her, and picks up another coffee pot, intimidating her as she runs out the store. Meza remains just a few steps behind. CCTV footage shows other families fleeing out the back exit as he moves to the other side of the store.

Later, we see the victim with an apparent head wound, blood streaming down her face.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

It seems as if she’s returned to gather her personal items, and Meza is nowhere in sight. While she’s bending down, reaching for her wallet under the booth, she seems to see Meza reappear and mouths, “Oh, sh**.” Meza appears in the bottom right-hand corner and flings a podium at her. The heavy metal stand narrowly misses her, and when she gets back up, she begins fighting back.

The two begin throwing dishes and other items at each other across two rows of booths.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

She immediately tosses a plate at Meza, as he scurries to take cover behind the barrier between the rows of booths. The woman slips a little as she takes cover while continuing to fling plates in his direction.

The victim pauses at one point to wipe the blood from her head.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

She appears to be pausing to take a breath and picks up a napkin to wipe the blood from her head. Meza picks up another coffee pot and swings it at her. It ricochets off the wall behind her and the shock of it sends the elderly woman into a fall. She stands back up and throws one final object before fleeing out the back door, purse in hand.

Meza immediately goes to her booth and finds the personal item she was looking for and pockets it.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

Meza sweeps the store, sifting through purses and stealing personal items from the terrified customers who fled before being physically attacked, including a family with an infant in a carriage. The mother picked up the baby and fled without her stroller. 

Then, he sets a fire in the kitchen.

Credit: @Robertbox1H / Twitter

Meza erratically paces the kitchen corridor, burning himself in the process. He turns the flame up on one of the burners and tosses a piece of fabric onto the flame, starting a fire. Police found him fleeing from the IHOP and arrested him in the parking lot. He remains at the Maricopa County Jail.

Watch the full video below.

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