There are more than 40,000 homeless veterans in this country. Pennsylvania ranks eighth on the list of states that have the most.
One woman is making it her mission to change that one person at a time.
“Any number over zero is just too much, so we decided we needed to expand,” Shelby Kearney said. “We have to eradicate homelessness in our veterans.”
Kearney is the founder of Pop’s House. We introduced you to her back in 2015 as she was launching the first Pop’s House in Harrisburg. It’s an affordable place where vets can live. Fast forward three years later, and the Park Street house is full.
Now Pop’s House is branching out. The organization just purchased the Robert M. Jackson Veterans Center. It has 16 rooms. With ramps and an elevator, it’s more accessible for disabled veterans.
Kearney says it’s not always easy for veterans to get housing. There’s a misconception about them that she wants to erase.
“A lot of landlords don’t want to rent to our demographic of veterans because of that PTSD stigma,” she said, “They’ve just gone through something. Everybody goes through something. We just meet them where they are, and just help them along the way.”
Pop’s House works with what it calls a one bill concept. Everything is included in the rent which is at a reduced price, which hopefully reduces the stress on the veteran.
Paying for all of this isn’t easy. That’s where you come in. Pop’s House is organizing a big party called the Walk A Mile In My Boots Festival. It begins with participants literally lacing up their boots and taking part in a 5K run/walk.
It’s a chance to raise money for Pop’s House and meet some of these heroes who gave so much for this country.
“It doesn’t matter where the veterans come from, what problems they had, what they went through. We just want to celebrate with them that day,” Kearney said.
After the 5K, there’s a big concert. There will also be other artists, craft tables, and food.
It all takes place at Reservoir Park in Harrisburg, Saturday, July 28 from 4-10 p.m.
Meanwhile, Pop’s House is always accepting donations and looking for volunteers. For more information, visit popshouse.org.