Photo by Justin Criado

A fully stocked kitchen complete with a new stove and microwave awaits a veteran at 1958 Ley St. in Troy Hill.

By Justin Criado

Homelessness isn’t often associated with the likes of Post-traumatic stress disorder when talking about military personnel returning home and incorporating themselves back in to civilian life, but the fact of the matter is hundreds of veterans face the reality of not having a living space to call their own.

An estimated 656 homeless veterans will need assistance throughout 2015, According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Point in Time (PIT) survey and the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) gap analysis.

The Veterans Leadership Program of Western Pennsylvania’s (VLP) Project Journey for Men looks to subtract from those numbers by providing temporary rent-free housing to veterans and their families. It’s latest property being 1958 Ley St. in Troy Hill.

“It was kind of dropped in our lap and that typically doesn’t happen,” Scott Mitchell, VLP’s Project Journey for Men coordinator, said of the newest property.

Landlord Ray Austin donated the property, rent-free for two years, along with furniture and new appliances.

“It’s ready to go. We have everything set,” Mitchell said. “We have volunteers that will go to Trader Joes or Aldi’s and stock the place up. We have a lot of external agencies and volunteers that help out.”

A group of 15 volunteers were onsite Aug. 13 to clear-out and clean the backyard.

The Troy Hill property is the program’s third since starting in February, the other two being in the suburb of Brentwood, but Mitchell says the response from the communities has been outstanding.

“(Community members) really want to help out, especially Troy Hill they were interested in how they could help out,” Mitchell said.

Off the Floor furniture in Manchester also works with the program to provide furniture.

The veteran’s and their families typically stay at the properties for 90 days rent-free before transitioning in to independent housing situation with possible temporary rental assistance through other VLP programs.

Mitchell plans to have the space occupied by the end of the month.

To learn more about VLP or how to get involved please visit the official website.