Fifteen new apartments, dedicated exclusively for housing homeless veterans who need assistance with mental health or drug issues, were opened this week in the city’s Point Breeze section.
A ribbon cutting ceremony officially opening the facility, called Patriot House, was held Tuesday afternoon, June 19, with Mayor Michael Nutter, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and officials with CATCH Inc., who will operate and manage the property, in attendance.
“No one who has ever worn a uniform in the United States of America should ever find themselves homeless — should ever be without service,” Nutter said. “They served the country — we now have to serve them.”
Thirteen one-bedroom units and two efficiencies are spread across three renovated row homes in the South Philadelphia neighborhood, just two blocks west of Broad Street near Federal Street.
“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,” Johnson said.
Each apartment comes equipped with central air conditioning and a washer and dryer. It also comes with supportive services provided by CATCH. They include a case manager to help residents with substance abuse, health care, budget preparation, adult literacy, stress management, job readiness, life skills and home safety. It also provides a van service for residents.
“This is a city based on redemption,” Nutter said. “It’s not how many times you get knocked down — it’s how many times you get back up. Every one of us has needed a helping hand at some point in our lives.”
While there are few reliable statistics on homeless veterans in Philadelphia, the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that, nationwide, there are 67,000 veterans sleeping on the street each night. Roughly 56 percent are Black or Hispanic. The majority of them are single, come from urban areas, and suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. About one-third of the entire adult homeless population are veterans.
The $3 million project was made possible through a mix of federal and local funds along with private financing. CATCH is a South Philadelphia-based non-profit that has been providing behavioral health and intellectual disability services since 1979.