Governor Wolf Commends Western PA Continuum of Care on Ending Veteran Homelessness, Urges Continued Action

September 13, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf announced that the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, and departments of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs confirmed that the Western Pennsylvania Continuum of Care (Western PA CoC) has effectively ended homelessness for veterans in 20 counties, including Armstrong, Butler, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Fayette, Forest, Green, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Venango, Warren, Washington, and Westmoreland.

This is the first multi-county plan to effectively end veteran homelessness in Pennsylvania.

“With this announcement, the U.S. government has verified and affirmed that the Western PA CoC, through its efforts, will continue to ensure veteran homelessness is a rare, brief, and one-time occurrence,” Gov Wolf said. “It has been my goal since I took office to reduce veteran homelessness and we have made progress. It is my hope that the example set by the Western PA CoC becomes a model and inspiration for the rest of the state so we can end veteran homelessness commonwealth-wide.”

The Western PA CoC governing board worked collaboratively with the veteran’s subcommittee–a group consisting of partners from the VA Medical Centers, the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program providers, Grant and Per Diem providers, Veterans Integrated Service Network 4, the Continuum of Care housing and services providers, veterans’ services providers, HUD technical assistance providers, local landlords, and the state departments of Community and Economic Development and Military and Veterans Affairs–to identify homeless veterans and provide them with immediate access to housing by using a Housing First model, creating a sustainable infrastructure for housing, and increasing and streamlining the availability of permanent housing and support services.

“The Department of Community and Economic Development is committed to the shared prosperity of all Pennsylvanians, and it is critical that everyone has access to the resources and services they need to not simply survive, but thrive,” said DCED Secretary Dennis Davin. “We commend the Western PA CoC on its commitment to our veterans, for reaching this incredible milestone, and for ensuring that no veteran is homeless.”

“The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is honored to serve Pennsylvania’s nearly 800,000 veterans and we are particularly excited to see the Western PA CoC successfully tackle the veteran homelessness issue in their 20-county region,” said Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Eric Weller, DMVA’s deputy adjutant general for Veterans Affairs. “Their success is a big step forward in the commonwealth’s goal to end veteran homelessness across all 67 counties. I commend them for their outstanding efforts and am grateful that our veterans are being provided with the programs and benefits they have earned through their service.”

Soon after taking office, Gov. Wolf challenged all commonwealth agencies and communities to reduce veteran homelessness by 40 percent in the last 100 days of 2015. That challenge was the first foray into work with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness’ Mayor’s Challenge to End Homelessness, the program that continues today and has helped Pennsylvania find permanent housing for thousands of homeless veterans.

“That first challenge resulted in reducing the state’s veteran homeless population by more than 500 and since then we’ve made good, steady progress,” Gov. Wolf said. “The forward-thinking efforts of the Western PA CoC have changed the way we address veteran homelessness, building the infrastructure needed to enact meaningful change, and investing in the services that literally save lives.

“Veterans are a population at risk for homelessness, and as they have protected us, it is incumbent upon us to protect them in turn.”

Read more about the Mayor’s Challenge to End Homelessness.

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