Veteran homelessness "effectively ended" in 4 local cities
According to the federal government, homelessness among Veterans in the cities of Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Lockport and Tonawanda has "effectively ended." The goal was met in response to a challenge First Lady Michele Obama made to hundreds of mayors across the nation in 2014.
Meeting the federal benchmarks does not mean that there are no homeless Veterans or that Veterans won't be homeless in the future, according to the Executive Director of the Homeless Alliance of Western New York, Dale Zuchlewski.
"But our community has systems and partnerships in place to identify and immediately shelter any Veteran who accepts assistance and can place them in permanent housing within 90 days of their acceptance," Zuchlewski said.
To get the distinction the four cities had to prove that they can house more Veterans each month than are becoming homeless. The data shows during the first six months of 2016 homelessness among local Veterans dropped 26%. City of Tonawanda Mayor Rick Davis served nine years in the Air Force. Davis says, as a Veteran he's proud to be part of the bi-partisan effort of local mayors to end homelessness among his brothers and sisters.
"Today, and always, we need to do more for our Veterans. And our pledge, today, is that we all continue to work together to ensure that those Veterans receive the housing help they rightfully deserve," Davis said.
Niagara Falls Mayor, Paul Dyster says, the hard work of local governments and organizations to end Veteran homelessness was no small feat. But Dyster says, it pales in comparison to the dedication and sacrifice made by Veterans.