A Point Breeze housing facility will enable veterans to reclaim a sense of independence.
“Nobody who has ever worn a uniform of the United States of America should ever find themselves homeless,” Mayor Michael A. Nutter said at June 19’s dedication of Patriot House, 1221 S. 15th St.
The second-term figure united with officials from Center City-based CATCH Inc. to celebrate the latter’s latest endeavor to provide behavioral health and intellectual disability assistance. The site will accommodate 15 chronically homeless veterans, offering them a plethora of supportive services in their attempts to regain autonomy.
Attendees jubilantly waved American flags as they learned of the more-than- $3-million location from CATCH’s CEO Raymond A. Pescatore, whose employer developed the space through the transformation of vacant adjacent walk-up buildings at 1221-25 S. 15th St. and 1232-34 S. Carlisle St. His 33-year-old nonprofit will manage the facility, with the City’s Office of Supportive Housing reviewing applications to determine the occupants.
“Today helps us to further our continuum of care by assisting a particularly worthy and deserving population, our veterans,” Pescatore said.
Supportive Housing counts slightly more than 400 homeless veterans, many in transitional housing programs for displaced individuals. As mental health issues and substance abuse disorders often cause or worsen their situations, he knew the perils of passivity. With $1.8 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program, $600,000 from Supportive Housing and $550,000 from the Federal Home Loan banks of New York and Pittsburgh, CATCH advanced its mission to meet special needs.
Patriot House will endow its residents with lessons in accountability. While CATCH noted the dwellers will have permanent habitancy, they will hold the responsibility of giving 30 percent of their income as rent. Their supportive treatment will consist of adult literacy instruction; budget preparation; good neighbor standards; health care; job readiness and placement; life skills workshops on cleaning, home safety and meal planning; stress management; and substance abuse services.
“This marks the beginning of new efforts to serve those who served us,” Pescatore, whose organization has made itself a South Philly constant since 1979, opening 14 local sites and operating programs in 11 School District of Philadelphia institutions, said.
Knowing the inhabitants can benefit from divine intervention, he called on Rev. Joseph Genito to give the invocation.
“May they know contentment,” the pastor of the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia, 1166 S. Broad St., said. “May they enjoy a good life based on the healthy values of family and friendship.”
Its spiritual identity tapped, the crowd then showed more reverence as the Logan Square-based American Legion Henry Hill Post 385 presented the colors and led the flag salute. The veterans’ organization oversees youth activities at Donald Finnegan Playground, 1231 S. 30th St., and used its presence to acknowledge its brethren and the need to uphold the dignity of all citizens.
“My father’s a veteran,” 2nd District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson said. “I have a special place in my heart for those who help us to appreciate what we often take for granted, namely, freedom. Veterans, whether they’re serving now, whether they’re returning home, whether they’re retired, they should receive nothing else but the best services this country can offer.”
The departments of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs estimate that more than 67,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, that twice that many endure homelessness and that 20 percent of the homeless citizenry consists of veterans, who make up 8 percent of the general population.
Two-thirds of homeless veterans served for at least three years, with one-third stationed in a war zone, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans’ website. While post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse contribute to homelessness, more than 1.5 million others possess a high risk for homelessness due to subpar living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing, insufficient support networks and poverty.
Aware of all of the harrowing sources of decline, Nutter lauded the house as a chance for non-veterans to thank their freedom’s benefactor.
“Let us never get so big or sophisticated that we forget others,” he said. “We want those who will come to live here to reach independence again.”
He divulged that many neighborhoods qualified to serve as the home’s location, but Point Breeze, whose history he praised, seemed the best fit.
“We are a city based on redemption and recovery,” he said of the spot that also put 124 people to work. “Our veterans, they served the country; this is our opportunity to serve them.”
CATCH officials confided they do not need to fill the 13 one-bedroom apartments and two efficiencies in order to have a decorated selectee begin to rejuvenate his or her existence, with each facility including central air conditioning, a washer and a dryer. A case manager will provide intense counseling, and van services also will aid the chosen figures in reaching their jobs or other spots.
Monday’s frigid morning temperatures could not alter the joy on the faces of those who gathered for the public opening of Osun (pronounced Oh-shoon) Village, 2308-14 Grays Ferry Ave. At 23,000 square feet, the four-story mixed-use development will include 16 one-bedroom rental apartments for senior citizens, ground floor commercial space and program offices for African-inspired cultural programs and a yearly June festival.
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