U.S. Housing and Urban Development Administrator visits Johnstown vets

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JOHNSTOWN, Pa (WTAJ) – The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development’s Regional Administrator visited Johnstown on Tuesday from Philadelphia.

As of last year, Pennsylvania estimated having more than 13,000 cases of veteran homelessness. Tuesday evening, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development paid a visit to the Veterans Leadership Program in Johnstown.

Last year, former veteran, Randy Geroux found himself homeless for the 3rd time in his life. He says he was an alcoholic and was discharged from the navy.

“Alcohol was just more important to me than doing my job and eventually it caught up with me,” says Geroux.

Six months ago, Geroux was released from a halfway house and found help with VLP. He starts a new job on Monday.

Geroux says “They connected me with the landlord, paid first month’s deposit, paid first month’s rent. They’re still currently paying on it as I am not employed… yet.”

The VLP is assisted by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.
Regional Administrator, Joe DeFelice is on a 2-day tour across Southwestern PA. He’s meeting local leaders and observing how they are helping the veteran community.

DeFelice says “It was in my mind to get out into the field and find out what’s going on at the local level because very too often, you’ll see the government dictating down to local partners about how they should do their job. My goal is to find out what really needs to happen and then dictate back up…These are the guys that put their lives on the line for our country and they’re sleeping on the streets… But now with our help and the Department of Labor, working with the awesome people here, not only in Johnstown but also in Pittsburgh – You know cobble those resources to get them back up on their feet and have some dignity.”

Cambria is the 63rd county he’s visited in Pennsylvania.

Joe DeFelice is ending his rounds on Wednesday with Somerset Westmoreland and Fayette counties.

The Veterans Leadership Program website can be found here.

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