County acts to aid home­less vets

Le­high of­fi­cials have first read­ing on $30K trans­fer

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Margie Peter­son

The flags out­side the Le­high County Gov­ern­ment Cen­ter were at half-staff Wed­nes­day in re­mem­brance of the vic­tims killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

In the build­ing Wed­nes­day evening, Le­high County gov­ern­ment was tak­ing steps to fund help for home­less mil­i­tary vet­er­ans. To that end, county com­mis­sion­ers had the first read­ing of an or­di­nance to trans­fer $30,000 from the county’s eco­nomic and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment fund to a new Le­high Val­ley home­less vet­eran fund in the non­profit Le­high Val­ley Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion.

The county plans to cre­ate a com­mit­tee of five peo­ple with ex­pe­ri­ence in vet­er­ans’ ser­vices or hous­ing pro­grams, fi­nance and ad­min­is­tra­tion to al­lo­cate the money in grants to char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tions for ser­vices for home­less vet­er­ans in the Val­ley.

Once the fund is es­tab­lished, the public can do­nate to it as well.

Com­mis­sioner Marc J. Grammes, who was the prime spon­sor of the or­di­nance, said Tom Ap­ple­bach, county di­rec­tor of vet­er­ans af­fairs, brought the prob­lem of home­less vet­er­ans to the com­mis­sion­ers’ at­ten­tion.

They de­cided to cre­ate the fund in the Le­high Val­ley Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion be­cause it is an in­de­pen­dent public charity that helps in­di­vid­u­als and groups di­rect their phi­lan­thropy, in­clud­ing to­ward lo­cal non­prof­its.

Com­mis­sioner Dan Hartzell said the trans­fer makes sense to him.

“It’s not that much of a stretch to say that help­ing solve the home­less prob­lem could be con­sid­ered an eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment or com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment func­tion the same way it is to get crime … off the city streets,” Hartzell said.

Com­mis­sioner Amanda Holt, a prime mover be­hind the or­di­nance, agreed, say­ing that one of the core tasks of com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment is to en­sure peo­ple have ad­e­quate hous­ing.

“In my mind, this cer­tainly fits in the scope of com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment,” Holt said, adding that the county do­na­tion is seed money. “Any­one can do­nate to this new fund that’s go­ing to as­sist the home­less vet­er­ans out there.”

The fi­nal com­mis­sion­ers vote on the fund is ex­pected in two weeks. The vote on the first read­ing of the or­di­nance was unan­i­mously in fa­vor of it.

Margie Peter­son is a free­lance writer for The Morn­ing Call.

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