Table of Contents
- Local VA Outreach Point of Contact
- The VA’s Homelessness Initiative Defined and Alternative POC’s
- Other Local Frontline Points of Contact
- Overnight Shelter Programs
- Drop-In Centers
- Local Street Sheets
- Other Resources (Don’t Forget These)
Local VA Outreach Point of Contact
If you are or know of a homeless veteran, contact Thomas Gonzalez, Homeless Veterans Outreach Social Worker, tel: 610-776-4329 ext 2364, or email: Thomas.Gonzalez@va.gov, at the Allentown Outpatient Clinic. (Stephen Costa no longer works at the Allentown Clinic.). If you are a social agency trying but unable to reach him, his supervisor is Steven Lai, Social Work Supervisor at the clinic, cell phone: 570-954-2453 or email: Steven.Lai2@va.gov. If you are still having trouble systemically, please contact us.
VA Homepage for its Homelessness Program activities: Click here.
The VA’s Homelessness Initiative Defined and Alternative Points of Contact
The current administration (both the President and the Secretary of the VA) have personally committed to ending homelessness among veterans within the next five years (starting from about November 2009). To learn about this ambitious, well-meant effort and what is entailed, click here. First published in 2012, this One-Stop website fully describes the available programs and services involved. It is useful to veterans, families and service providers wishing to engage the VA. However, its most useful feature — considering the complexity of the initiative and depth of understanding required for the average consumer to use this site properly without wasting time — is the National Call Center subpage (which includes a local resource guide) describing the uses of the helpline number, 1-877-424-3834. It has particular application to our area when the local Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center, responsible for the initiative locally, fails to respond to calls.
Other Local Frontline Points of Contact
Note: All will routinely contact the Allentown Outpatient Clinic Social Worker for Homelessness to enter the veteran into the VA homeless program. All provide services and programs which may not be VA-funded.
- The Lehigh Conference of Churches provides a full range of homeless services, to include employment retraining. Website is www.lehighchurches.org. However, its Pathways Housing Services program, currently located at 1031 W Linden Street in Allentown, is the most likely avenue for access. Contact its Assistant Housing Director, Israel Olivieri, at 610-439-8653.
- Victory House of the Lehigh Valley works with the Wilkes-Barre VAMC to provide transitional housing and rehabilitation. It is the only organization in the Lehigh Valley to provide this service for veterans under the VA’s Grant and Per Diem grant program, which exists to deal with chronically homeless veterans. It is located at 314 Fillmore Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015-5458. Call 610-691-3373. Pat DiLuzio is its Executive Director. Website is www.victoryhouselv.org.
- Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living (LVCIL) works with the Wilkes-Barre VAMC to provide supportive services for veteran families (SSVF). This is a relatively new, grant initiative from the VA which aims at preventing homelessness and, for the first time, considers the family unit. Case management, supportive services and, based on the situation, short-term financial assistance are provided. The veteran or veteran family can either be homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless. It also provides other services for persons with all types of disabilities. Call 610-770-9781 or 1-800-495-8245. Website is www.lvcil.org. For more information on their SSVF program, click here.
- The Diocese of Allentown’s Catholic Charities also works with the Wilkes-Barre VAMC to provide supportive services for veteran families (SSVF). Call 610-435-1541 for the Lehigh Valley or 1-800-330-8001 (Other phone numbers are provided for Reading and Pottsville in the brochure, but the 1-800 number should work). Alternatively contact Ken Lebron at firstname.lastname@example.org or Heidi Miller at email@example.com. For more information on their SSVF program, click here. Catholic Charities’ website is www.allentowndiocese.org/catholic-charities/. Like LVCIL, it provides other services of use to those in distress and in need of help.
- Community Hope, doing business as Hope for Veterans in our area, is a newcomer to the Lehigh Valley for supportive services for veteran families (SSVF). It is New Jersey’s largest general homeless services provider, providing a full range of services for both veterans and nonveterans alike ranging from transitional to permanent supportive housing to legal assistance to addiction and mental health recovery services. Most of its work regarding veterans in the valley begins with SSVF. For assistance if you are from the Lehigh Valley, call 973-273-7712 or contact Kevin Cope by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or use their hotline number at 1-855-483-8466. For more information on their SSVF program, click here. For more information on Community Hope’s other veterans programs, click here.
- The County Directors of Veterans Affairs are also a contact point and can especially coordinate those state benefits available for the homeless with the state’s Bureau of Veterans Affairs, to include state homes and limited emergency assistance. They should also be able to refer homeless veterans to other county services not specific to veterans only.
Overnight Shelter Programs
Three are currently known to LVMAC:
- The Bethlehem Emergency Sheltering program is a faith-based partnership that provides a network of care and hospitality for the homeless in our community. Rudimentary overnight sheltering is provided during the coldest months of the year, December through March. Currently, various churches in the city serve as sheltering sites on a rotating basis. Serves men and women. Telephone: 484-893-0818
- The Everlasting Life Ministries is under contract to the City to manage a Warming Center in 2016/17. It provides overnight emergency shelter to those without homes at the City of Allentown’s Fountain Pool Building, located at the corner of S. 10th Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard. It will operate daily from 7. p.m. to 7:00 a.m., November through an expected closing date sometime in April 2017. The building has bathroom and shower facilities and bunk beds for up to 38 people. In addition, these churches are supporting the operation by serving breakfast at their locations:
– St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (38 S. 8th Street) will provide a morning meal on Sundays through Wednesdays;
– Zion’s United Church of Christ (620 Hamilton Street), on Thursdays through Saturdays.
- Finally, the oldest in the business, the Allentown Rescue Mission’s Gateway Center provides overnight services to men only, but it provides the services throughout the year. Telephone: 610-740-5500
- New Bethany Ministries (Telephone: 610-691-5602) provides a drop-in center homeless families and low income, mentally disabled adults as does Lehigh Conference of Church’s Daybreak program (Telephone: 610-820-5049).
- As of May 2015, Community Hope/Hope for Veterans operates a drop-in center exclusively for veterans at its 2895 Hamilton Boulevard location (Telephone: 1-855-483-8466).
Local Street Sheets
These products are prepared by various organizations. While the they are intended to be provided to homeless persons, they are are also useful to others who are concerned about the homeless. Also, being a veteran does not mean the person cannot use other social services in addition or instead of the VA’s. Indeed, the VA itself often uses the resources listed.
- Allentown Streetsheet for Emergency Services 2010
- Lehigh County Streetsheet for Cold Weather 2013-2014 (v2)
- Lehigh Valley Resources for Veterans Brochure (Nov 2016 edition)
The following is a listing of other useful resources for our area. Though not specifically tailored to veterans, it should be remembered that our veterans are firstly, citizens. Indeed, homeless for veterans, as for the other citizenry, is best tackled by using all available resources and it is silly to deny thinking of them because of the classification, “veteran”.
Shelter Listings: Two websites present the information usefully.
- The first, HomelessShelterDirectory.com, provides in one place all of the homeless shelters and also other services for the needy which are close to an identified city. While this is a national resource, one can look up other cities in Pennsylvania by clicking here or by using the right hand sidebar to find other towns close by, such as Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton. Homeless clinic and treatment center resources are also provided on the right navigational bar (shelters sometimes provide services such as alcohol and drug rehab treatment along with clinics.)
- The second, ShelterListings.org, is also a national resource with granularity down to the city and town level. Its search engine definition of shelter is broader than HomelessShelterDirectory’s, and in so doing — while its temporary shelter identification might not be as complete — provides other agencies that can assist or providing housing assistance. Click here for Allentown as an example.
Financial Assistance and Financial Help Resources:
Financial Help Resources provides a listing of useful resources by major towns throughout the country. Click here for Pennsylvania resources, to include the oft-forgotten County Assistance Offices provided by the Commonwealth’s Department of Human Services. Its primary value is in preventing homelessness or limiting it. It also has a slightly broader function than for the homeless alone, for it lists financial help ranging from single parent financial help to college and student financial aid and help — in addition to rent and utility help, for examples.
Another potentially useful site — but one with a broader focus than finding financial assistance alone — is Need Help Paying Bills. It also goes into greater depth in explaining various means of assistance.
National Resource Directory tailored for Pennsylvania: Click here. Again, a broader resource database that might prove useful.
Last Updated: 11 January 2017 (Correction to Allentown Cold Weather Shelter plan)