Officials in five Capital Region cities are banding together in an effort to end homelessness among veterans.
The mayors of Albany, Amsterdam, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady and Troy want to engage the public and community-based agencies to tackle the issue in the five cities.
“We thought by doing this collectively it would give us a chance to raise public awareness and put in place a more comprehensive approach to deal with this issue long-term,” Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said at the official announcement of the initiative Wednesday in Albany.
The partnership is part of a national initiative called the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, which is spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
The effort kicked off earlier this year in Washington and has been made a national priority by first lady Michelle Obama and HUD Secretary Julian Castro.
“I went to the White House summit in June where Michelle Obama had put out the Mayors Challenge for veterans’ homelessness and made the pledge then,” McCarthy said. “We spoke with HUD officials and had some meetings to identify the homeless people and create a plan to provide safe and decent housing.”
Each city is working to develop its own plan to confront veteran homelessness with the assistance of HUD and the VA. The goal is to provide solutions for homeless veterans in the cities by the end of 2015.
McCarthy said Schenectady has nearly 20 homeless veterans.
The city is working to identify their needs to transition them into a more stable housing environment.
“Over the next week, we will go out and reaffirm our numbers,” he said.
“Vouchers would allow them to be based in conventional housing or fair-market housing. We’re working with local not-for-profits, such as City Mission, and other groups to deal with the unique circumstances.”
McCarthy said working with the other mayors is vital for the initiative’s success because homeless veterans identified in the city now could later move to a nearby city.
“Across America, cities are successfully tackling veterans’ homelessness through collaboration at all levels of government,” said Holly Leicht, regional administrator at HUD. “This challenge cannot be met without local commitment and dedicated resources, which is why I’m so pleased that these five mayors from the New York Capital Region are joining together to solve veterans’ homelessness by the end of 2015.”
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