Facebook101Tweet0Pin0Submitted by SideWalkSideWalk, an Olympia-based organization with a mission of ending homelessness in Thurston County, announced the “Mayoral Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness” will officially launch this Memorial Day, May 30.A local response to an ambitious national challenge to end Veteran homelessness issued to mayors across the country by First Lady Michelle Obama, the effort is a collaboration among Catholic Community Services, the Metropolitan Development Council, Thurston County Veterans Services, and the cities of Olympia and Lacey.“More than 1,500 of our county’s 29,000 Veterans live below the poverty level, and nearly 7,000 have a disability, with many experiencing or at risk of homelessness,” said Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder. “The Mayoral Challenge to End Veterans Homelessness is an outstanding opportunity to spur meaningful community dialog addressing this critical issue.”The upcoming campaign will focus on four primary areas — coordinating Veteran outreach, prioritizing vulnerable Veterans, increasing outreach to landlords, and community building — with a goal of ending Veteran homelessness in Thurston County.“I’m proud of our city’s commitment to ending Veteran’s homelessness,” said Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby. “Anyone who’s served our country should never have to sleep outside. By applying the best practice approach of ‘Rapid Rehousing’ we can truly stabilize this important population and take care of our most vulnerable.”To kick off the effort and receive community comment, SideWalk will host two public meetings at the Veterans Outreach Center, 4232 6th Ave SE, Suite 202, in Lacey. The first, beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 9, will provide an opportunity to aid in the development of a strategic outreach plan. The second, at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 30, will focus on action steps to finalize input on the coordinated effort.Nationally, nearly 900 community leaders have endorsed the challenge, which has been designated a National Best Practice of The Federal Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD). To date, twenty-four communities and two states have utilized the challenge to help end Veteran homelessness.