In fewer than seven months, the city of Philadelphia aims to get every homeless veteran off the streets.
Mayor Michael Nutter revealed the timeframe for the lofty goal on Thursday to a packed room of government officials and non-profit workers.
“While every Veterans Day is respected and revered in Philadelphia,” he said, “this upcoming Veterans Day of course will be an even greater day of celebration when we announce that we have ended veteran homelessness in Philadelphia.”
The citywide push is part of a national effort to find homes for all vets by the end of 2015. Last summer Nutter signed on to the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama, and Philadelphia is one of 25 cities receiving extra resources from the VA to support the cause.
The key to success, organizers said, is collaboration. Philadelphia non-profit leaders said for the first time they are sharing lists and have sufficient resources.
Whether the goal will be met, or will be sustainable, is unclear. In the past two years, 862 vets in the city have found homes. Officials estimate there are still about 600 without housing. Formerly skeptical non-profit leaders, however, are now convinced.
One city, New Orleans, has already declared victory. Many other cities have made similar pledges.
“Philadelphia is by far the largest that has actually pinpointed the date,” said Jane Vincent of the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, one of numerous agencies involved. “So when we get to Veterans day, Philadelphia will really be ringing its bell.”