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. If you are a social agency trying but unable to reach him, his supervisor is Crystal Arcarese, Homeless Supervisor, tel: 570-824-3521 x7742 or email: Crystal.Arcarese@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
To learn more about the VA’s campaign to end homelessness among veterans, first begun in 2009 with a five year goal, 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 resource guides) 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 Dubbs Memorial Community Center at 457 W. Allen Street in Allentown, is the most likely avenue for access. Call 610-439-8653, for appointments are required. Ben Stephens is its Housing and Homelessness Services Director.
- Victory House of the Lehigh Valley works with the Wilkes-Barre VAMC to provide transitional housing and rehabilitation. It provides this service to men only 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.
- Safe Harbor Easton: Now under VA contract, Safe Harbor does provide temporary shelter to veterans and transitional housing and rehabilitation, like Victory House, but for women veterans. Call 610.258.5540. Website is www.safeharboreaston.wordpress.com. [As of September 2018]
- Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living (LVCIL): While it is no longer a supportive services for veteran families (SSVF) contractor (as of 9/30/2017), LVCIL provides other useful services for persons with all types of disabilities. Call 610-770-9781. Website is www.lvcil.org.
- 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. Contact Rob Nicollela, Program Director at email@example.com or Rob Laubenheimer, Case Manager 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, no longer provides supportive services for veteran families (SSVF) to our area as of 10/30/2018. expires on 30 October 2018, again without reason without proper explanation by the VA. However, for those in New Jersey it continues to provide 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. More information can be found by clicking here.
- New Vitae Wellness and Recovery, provides various services of use to the homeless veterans social work community, let alone veterans themselves. Among them, behavioral health therapy, inclusive of mental health and drug and alcohol addiction treatment, and transitional living.
- 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
Five programs which are familiar with dealing with veterans are known to LVMAC for 2018-2019. They are often called “warming shelters” if only operating in the cold weather months.
- Allentown Warming Center
Location: 425 South 15th St., Allentown (YMCA small gymnasium, Elm St. side)
Dates: November 1, 2020 to April ??, 2021
Operating Hours: 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.
More info: https://www.gv-ymca.org/
Meals will be provided for guests Tuesday through Friday. There will not be a community space/area; clients will have to take their meals to their cots. No showers or laundry service is available this season. Following CDC sheltering guidelines, temperatures will be taken every evening during check-in and 4 health questions will be asked. Masks are required to enter. For more information, contact Jodi Petrozak.
- Allentown Rescue Mission: The oldest in the business, but caters to men only.
Location: 355 W. Hamilton St., Allentown
Dates: All year
Operating Hours: 3:30 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.
More info: Allentown Rescue Mission’s Gateway Center (housing voucher from police required)
- Bethlehem Emergency Shelter
Location: 75 E. Market St., Bethlehem (Christ Church UCC’s former Sunday School Building)
Dates: November 15, 2020 to April ??, 2021
Operating Hours: 5 p.m. to 7 a.m.
More info: www.bethlehememergencysheltering.org
Meals will be available for guests staying in the shelter. The community space will be closed and guests will be required to remain on their cots after eating. Guests will be required to wear a mask at all times. Temperatures will be taken every evening during check-in and health questions will be asked. CDC and PA Department of Health guidance will be followed. Capacity for guests has been reduced due to social distancing requirements, although the exact number is still being determined. For more information, contact Bob Rapp, Jr.
- Safe Harbor Warming Station
Location: 536 North Bushkill Street, Easton
Dates: December 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021
Operating Hours: 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. (must arrive by 9 p.m. except in emergency)
More info: https://safeharboreaston.wordpress.com/
Masks are required, but will be provided as needed. Includes meals, showers, case management, referrals, clothing. For direct inquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
- Greater Shiloh Church Warming Station (not in operation this year)
Location: 201 Brother Thomas Bright Ave, Easton
More info: None
- 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).
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.org, 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.
The National Resource Directory, an online collaboration between the Departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs dedicated to assisting both military and veterans can be tailored for Pennsylvania in the filters: click here. Again, a broader resource database that might prove useful.
Last Updated: 20 November 2020 (Overnight warming shelters update)