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Identity & Community

Pennsylvania Nearing Its Year-End Goal For Housing Homeless Veterans

James Lee

Pennsylvania’s participation in a nationwide effort to find homes for homeless veterans is seeing results, according to the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. 

A widespread survey held earlier this year identified about 1,300 homeless veterans statewide. Gov. Tom Wolf and department officials set a goal of housing 550 veterans in the last 100 days of the year. 

Through the Obama-backed Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, 481 veterans in the state were placed in permanent housing between Sept. 23 and Nov. 30, 2015.

With just 69 left, Chip Gilliland, department chief of reintegration and outreach, said he's confident this year's goal will be met.

“The key to getting a veteran housed is ... providing those wraparound services to help them get through whatever they’re going through,” Gilliland said.

Veterans struggling with homelessness often cite problems with employment or struggles with mental health or substance abuse as everyday barriers. State and local officials work with a network of service providers to ensure veterans are receiving the treatment, training and other services they may need.

In 2016, the federal VA plans to concentrate on chronic homeless veterans, Gilliland said.

"Those are veterans who have run into homelessness more than once,” he said.

Nationally, veteran homelessness has fallen 35 percent since 2009 and decreased 4 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Gilliland said 859 governors, mayors and city and county officials are participating in the challenge through the federal HUD.