Homes for veterans: Peduto commits to helping ex-soldiers off the street

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Mayor Bill Peduto wants to end homelessness among military veterans in Pittsburgh by the end of 2015. Based on the success of cities where mayors have made similar commitments to find permanent housing for homeless vets, it is both a realistic and achievable goal.

As of January, Pittsburgh had an estimated 97 homeless veterans, according to the mayor’s office. Seventy-eight were living in emergency shelters and 19 were unsheltered. None of them has guaranteed access to the counseling and other services that could help them.

Getting a roof over their heads would be the first step in easing their return to society. Once they have a clean, safe place to live they can avail themselves of medical treatment, addiction counseling, trauma therapy, job training and other resources.

To reduce veterans’ homelessness, Mr. Peduto said Pittsburgh will work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Veterans Affairs and others that have offered aid toward solving this problem. The VA will distribute $300 million in grants through next year.

Since the 2010 launch of Opening Doors, the federal government’s plan to prevent and end general homelessness, there has been a 24 percent reduction in homelessness among veterans. The success is due to the efforts of local and federal officials developing a strategy to fit individual cities.

Phoenix, Arizona, was praised by the White House in December for being the first city to eliminate homelessness among veterans. Philadelphia and Chicago have also launched tough initiatives.

By joining other mayors in this effort, Mr. Peduto has committed the city to pursuing the kind of help that could change the lives of some of Pittsburgh’s most desperate veterans.

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