L.V. celebrates advances made in ending veteran homelessness
The Lehigh Valley Homeless Veterans Task Force has been recognized for effectively ending veteran homelessness across the Lehigh Valley.
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski accepted the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, announced in June 2014 by then-First Lady Michelle Obama in the fall of 2014.
Pawlowski approached Director of the Lehigh County Office of Veterans Affairs Thomas Applebach to spearhead the challenge.
Applebach organized the first meeting of the Lehigh Valley Homeless Veterans Task Force in February 2015.
The task force brought together the area’s three VA-funded veteran housing providers, emergency and transitional housing agencies and other key partners and stakeholders from across the Lehigh Valley.
The federal declaration made by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness means that the task force has met the goal that veteran homelessness in the Lehigh Valley will be rare, brief and nonrecurring.
It also means there is a repeatable process in place to quickly identify homeless veterans, screen them, house them and provide supportive services under the federally adopted Housing First model.
Members of the Lehigh Valley Homeless Veterans Task Force, Pawlowski, Applebach and other key figures gathered 11 a.m. July 10 outside the Lehigh County Government Center, Allentown, to acknowledge and celebrate the success of those who helped the veteran homeless.
Pawlowski delivered his thanks and gratitude to the members of the task force and all those who worked hard to make a difference with the veterans.
“On behalf of the city and on behalf of the veterans, I want to say thank you,” Pawlowski said.
Joseph DeFelice, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development of the Mid-Atlantic Region regional administrator, acknowledged the importance of the local leaders.
“It’s the effort of the local leaders that combat these types of issues (veteran homelessness),” DeFelice said.
In his closing remarks at the gathering, Applebach confirmed the impact statewide programs have in helping veteran homelessness.
“In 2010, there was an estimated 72,000 veterans homeless. Today, that number is cut in half,” Applebach said.