Lehigh Valley, PA– The creation of the Lehigh Valley Homeless Veteran Fund was announced by local officials today (February 10) at the Lehigh County Government Center. The newly established fund received $200,000 in grant funding secured by Senate Appropriations Chairman Pat Browne (16th District).
This is the largest state commitment specifically targeted towards assisting homeless veterans in the Lehigh Valley.
The yearly Point-In-Time count in 2019 – an annual one-day effort held each January to identify the homeless throughout a community – identified 38 homeless veterans in the Lehigh Valley. The number has held fairly steady since 2013 when veterans became a subcategory of the Point-In-Time count.
“When our country called upon them, these men and women committed themselves to service in our armed forces,” Senator Browne said. “Now, it is our turn to answer their call and provide assistance when they need it most. The Lehigh Valley Homeless Veteran Fund will help to ensure that pathways to sustainable housing, job placement and mental health services are available to the area’s homeless veteran population.”
Changes to federal funding in 2017 resulted in a significant reduction of dedicated resources to address homeless veterans in the Lehigh Valley. As a result, many community partners ceased their services and outreach programs to that population.
The Lehigh Valley Homeless Veteran Fund was created to alleviate the funding gap. The fund is designed to provide funding assistance to existing agencies on a competitive award basis and is administered by the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation. The fund is designed to support existing programs or support new initiatives that ensure that “No Veteran is Left Behind.”
“It’s been a struggle over the past several years to find funding to overcome the federal cuts,” Thomas Applebach, Director of the Lehigh County Office of Veterans Affairs, said. “This money will help our partner agencies sustain their programs to house our homeless Vets and maybe even help to fund new and innovative programs.
“I want to be clear that, although I work for Lehigh County and the Commissioners helped to create the fund and provided some seed money, this is not a county program. In partnering with Community Foundation, we want everyone to understand that this is a Lehigh Valley-wide community effort that will require the financial support of everyone to sustain and grow.”
After learning of the federal funding cuts and the pressing issue of homeless veterans in the Lehigh Valley, Senator Browne worked to secure state resources in the 2019-20 state budget for the newly created fund.
The fund will be overseen by a five-member committee who will evaluate applications and recommend grant awards. The fund is managed by the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, which will disburse the grants as well as support fundraising efforts.
In addition to Applebach, the committee members are; Michael Wilson, Lehigh Valley Community Foundation; Alisa Baratta, Third Street Alliance; Mary Tirrell, Lehigh Valley Health Network; and Rocco Zegalia, Netizen Corporation.
Information provided to TVL by:
Deputy Director of Policy & Communications
Senator Pat Browne
Majority Appropriations Chairman
PA 16th Senatorial District