Recently we learned the Lehigh Valley Regional Homeless Advisory Board (LVRHAB) is conducting a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) homeless point-in-time survey the evening of 24 January extending through 25 January.
HUD is the government agency overseeing home mortgage lending practices and is centrally involved in solving the issue of homelessness by the nature of its purpose. Every year it conducts a Point in Time (PIT) Count of the un-housed on the predicted coldest day of the year. The count involves seeking out those who are unsheltered and those in emergency shelters or transitional shelters — that is, homeless households. The numbers obtained are important to HUD’s reporting of its accomplishments and to their funding practices. But as its name may imply, its tendency is to focus geographically on urban areas.
PIT counts are also rarely done with scientific precision and it is LVMAC’s assumption, though we would prefer to be proven wrong, the plight of the homeless in our Lehigh Valley is consequently under-reported. Why is an association oriented on military-veterans so concerned about such counts? Because national statistics suggest that about 11% of these homeless are likely to be veterans. Therefore, what affects HUD’s thinking affects our veterans as well, especially as the VA is working with HUD to reduce veterans homelessness and uses the same statistics.
The Lehigh Valley Homeless Veterans Task Force is applying for recognition that it has, among other benchmarks, reached “functional zero” as part of a joint HUD and VA effort to end chronic homelessness among veterans, known as the Mayor’s Challenge. This means the number of veterans who are homeless, whether sheltered or unsheltered, is no greater than the monthly permanent housing placement rate. It also requires the task force to know all the chronically homeless veterans in the area. The PIT count again crops up in this determination. While the task force’s efforts are noteworthy and to be commended — it demonstrates what a good community can do when it works together — the quality of our PIT counts remain of concern to us because it ultimately will have some effect on the resources applied to helping our veterans in the future.
The solution currently seems to lie in throwing more forces into the survey. This is important because the LVRHAB, like HUD itself, has primarily focused on the major urban areas — in this case the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, and nearby. The survey will virtually ignore the northern areas of the Lehigh Valley. That is troublesome to us because we know many of the Lehigh Valley’s veterans live well north of U.S. Route 22 and it can be anticipated that some of them are homeless.
We, therefore are calling upon the Lehigh Valley’s veterans community to step up to help rectify the situation. We are asking veterans to volunteer to help ensure no areas north of U.S. Route 22 are not forgotten. Contact Chris Cassidy at 484-893-1047 or firstname.lastname@example.org to register. Some training is required on 19 January. Click on the flyer to the right for details.
As of 18 January 2017