The city has found housing for 18 formerly homeless veterans living in Saratoga Springs and set up a system for helping any newly homeless vets.
“Our pledge is that if a veteran presents as homeless, they do not spend a single night on the street,” Mayor Joanne Yepsen said at a Wednesday press conference announcing the city’s success in meeting a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development “challenge” to mayors to end veterans’ homelessness in cities across the country.
The challenge led to formation of a housing task force in February, involving agencies like the Saratoga County Rural Preservation Corp., Soldier On and the city Housing Authority, among others. A local HUD officials praised the city’s commitment.
“The ’Mayor’s Challenge’ has been a great opportunity for us here at HUD,” said Jaime E. Forero, director of HUD’s Albany field office.
Some of the homeless veterans were identified through the city’s wintertime Code Blue shelter program, while others were found through referrals from agencies that help veterans or the homeless. Going forward, a veteran services intake person will be at City Hall every Tuesday in case people want to seek help.
“If a veteran presents as homeless, we have a system in place now where not for one night will the veteran remain homeless,” Yepsen said. ”Our veterans have done their duty by serving our country, and now it’s our duty to do something for them.”
The announcement was made at the Shelters of Saratoga shelter on Walworth Street, one of the places veterans can find housing.
“We average close to four veterans a month here,” said Michael A. Finocchi, executive director of the group.
Others have been placed at male and female homeless veteran shelters the Rural Preservation Foundation runs in Ballston Spa, where they also get help in finding permanent housing. Homeless veterans have also started receiving a higher priority on the waiting list for the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority.
“I have talked to many homeless veterans. There’s no way they can continue their lives unless they have a safe place to live,” Yepsen said.