Homelessness among veterans has increased in Pennsylvania by 46.2 percent since 2009 according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. To combat this growing number, a bill was just passed unanimously by the state Senate which would give veterans preferential treatment for public housing.
“An individual who serves in the military is often required to transition out of the military and into mainstream life very quickly and sometimes that transition does not go very smoothly,” said Jesse Rodriguez, Director of Operations at Veterans Leadership Program, “once a bump in the road happens, an individual may start having, for lack of a better term, a spiral downward that can lead them to reaching homelessness faster.”
Pennsylvania has the 4th largest concentration of veterans, with 1,500 homeless veterans according to bill sponsor Senator Hughes.
Senate Bill 1135 would provide first preference to homeless veterans, second to disabled veterans or families of disabled veterans, third to families of deceased veterans and fourth preference would be given to veterans and their families.
“Individuals, such as my father, signed on the dotted line out of their own free will. They volunteered to serve our country. I believe adding a preference in recognition of their volunteerism is the appropriate thing to do for our veterans,” said Rodriguez.
The bill is now in the house in the Urban Affairs committee.
“Hopefully we can get it home before the year is over and hopefully that us getting it home (passed) before the year is over allows our veterans to get in homes sooner rather than later,” said Hughes.