PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 11, 2014 — As Pennsylvania and the nation honored all veterans today, Philadelphia area’s homeless veterans and senior citizens got a glimpse of a new residence carrying the name of state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams’ late father.
Sen. Williams, Congressman Bob Brady, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and HELP USA today dedicated and delivered a sneak peek of the soon-to-open Hardy Williams Veterans Center on Grovers Avenue. The facility is designed to help address homelessness among the Philadelphia area’s veterans and seniors.
“My father was a decorated Army veteran who believed in his fellow soldier and especially believed in fellow soldiers who called Philadelphia home,” Sen. Williams said during the dedication ceremony. “Our fighting men and women put their lives on the line when they go to battle. They should not have to fight for their existence when they are home.
“Our seniors, too, have labored long and hard to make our neighborhoods neighborly. They are being pushed onto the streets because of rising property taxes and disappearing social safety nets.
“This new facility, the Hardy Williams Veterans Center, will deliver a safe and sound place for homeless seniors to live, too. Dad would be proud, as I am immensely proud of him as I stand here and witness how his legacy continues,” Sen. Williams said. “I am also very happy that my family is here today to enjoy this accomplishment.”
The Hardy Williams Veterans Center is a 61-unit facility that plans to earmark half of its space to homeless veterans and half to seniors.
The late state Sen. Hardy Williams was a Korean War veteran and a nationally known leader who was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1968 and the PA Senate in 1982.
Hardy Williams put forth successful legislation that ended the use of “illegitimate” on birth certificates, school records and other legal documents. In the Senate, he led a taskforce on violence as a public health concern.
He also championed the fight to eliminate police brutality and was at the forefront organizing the fight against black-on-black crime and efforts to increase employment and business opportunities for members of the African-American community.
Before retiring in 1998, Williams founded and became executive director of Black Family Services after having served on its board for many years. His accomplishments also included founding the Organized Anti-Crime Community Network (OACCN), and he was instrumental in establishing the highly successful youth violence intervention program, Crisis Intervention Network. He was the namesake and first recipient of the Hardy Williams Award for Excellence presented by the Black Law School Association of the University of Pennsylvania.
Sen. Anthony Williams, Congressman Brady and HELP USA unveiled the designs for the Hardy Williams Veterans Center one year ago during Veterans Day. This will be the fourth Philadelphia-based facility to be operated by the national nonprofit organization.
“The Hardy Williams Veterans Center at HELP Philadelphia IV, is the place that cooperation built. This is an example of what can be done when we work together. This is our way of showing these veterans who served our country faithfully to keep us safe, that we thank them for their service.
Federal, state and local governments, the private sector and of course HELP USA came together in the spirit of cooperation to give a helping hand to our veterans in their hour of need,” said Congressman Bob Brady.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearly 1,500 veterans are homeless in Pennsylvania. Close to a third of that total struggle to find shelter in Philadelphia.
“Taking care of those who serve should be a top priority of those who are protected by that service,” Councilman Johnson said, “I am proud to stand with HELP USA and my colleagues today in service of that goal,” said Philadelphia Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.
In addition to the Hardy Williams Veterans Center, HELP USA operates the Philadelphia Homes & Brady Veterans Center, Genesis Square Apartments and the Genesis Square Townhomes.