|HUD R3 No. 14-36
July 18, 2014
CITY OF ROANOKE HIGHLIGHTS WORK TO END VETERAN HOMELESSNESS
Virginia State Senator John Edwards and Regional Administrator Jane Vincent Tour Roanoke's Trust House
ROANOKE, VA - Virginia State Senator John S. Edwards and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Region III Regional Administrator Jane C.W. Vincent joined City of Roanoke Council Member William D. Bestpitch and City of Salem Council Member Lisa Garst to highlight regional successes in "Joining Forces" to end homelessness on Wednesday, July 16 at the Trust House, home of the non-profit organization that provides transitional and emergency shelter to individuals, families and veterans experiencing homelessness.
The officials and area advocates used the gathering to underscore the State of Virginia's and the Cities of Roanoke and Salem's commitments to the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, part of the Obama Administration's Joining Forces initiative. Through the Mayors Challenge, mayors and local leaders across the country commit to marshalling federal, local and non-profit resources to end veteran homelessness in their communities by the end of 2015. The Mayors of the Cities of Roanoke and Salem were the first to sign on in the Commonwealth. Governor Terry McAuliffe pledged his support on June 9 at the Ending Virginia Veteran Homelessness Summit in Richmond, VA.
"It is the Commonwealth's duty and honor to provide housing to veterans who have risked their lives for our protection," stated Sen. Edwards in his remarks. "It is our turn to protect our veterans by ensuring they have housing."
In the last year, homelessness in the Commonwealth has declined 7.9 percent, with a 10.8 percent decrease in family homelessness and a 14 percent decrease in veteran homelessness. Much of that progress can be attributed to bipartisan support for permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing solutions.
"Trust House is an excellent example of the leadership a local non-profit provides in identifying a need and then collaborating with other service providers and local government to effectively address the need—in this case veteran homelessness. Trust House is utilizing local, state, and federal resources to rapidly re-house veterans, which is one of the first steps in stabilizing lives. This approach is exactly what is needed to end veteran homelessness in the Roanoke region and across the Commonwealth," noted Pam Kestner who serves as the Special Advisor on Families, Children and Poverty in Virginia's Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Resources.
Salem VA Medical Center Director Dr. Miguel H. LaPuz, City of Roanoke Human Services Administrator Carol Tuning, who also serves as the Chair of the Blued Ridge Continuum of Care, joined Trust House Executive Director Ali Hamed-Moore in sharing insight into why their partnership is working for the individuals and families experiencing homelessness in the Blue Ridge region. Blue Ridge Interagency Council on Homelessness Chair Dr. Paula Prince shared the results of the July 11 Summer Street Count, an effort that helps advocates continue to understand the circumstances and issues those who are experiencing homelessness face.
"The Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness applauds the leadership of the Mayors of Roanoke and Salem in committing to end homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015," noted VCEH Executive Director Phyllis Chamberlain. "We greatly appreciate Senator Edward's work in the General Assembly and interest in ending veteran homelessness. We will provide support to the region's efforts to make sure that no veteran experiences homelessness again."
"The fact that one in every 10 Virginians is a veteran only serves to escalate the importance of tackling this important issue," noted HUD's Jane Vincent. "The partners gathered here today—from the Trust House to the Salem VA Medical Center, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the cities of Roanoke and Salem, to Rebuilding Together Roanoke and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness—include many entities and most importantly, caring people working together to help everyone find a safe, stable place to call home."
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