Mayor Andy Berke signed an executive order Tuesday establishing a community coalition to eradicate chronic veterans’ homelessness by December 2016.

The action plan will be developed over the next year with a group of veterans, community leaders, and service providers that will be brought together to monitor the progress of this goal.

According to Veteran Affairs, at any given time in Chattanooga there are about 150 veterans who are homeless and 20% who are chronically homeless. Due to the transient nature of this problem, it is likely that many more go uncounted.

“These men and women have served our country valiantly and it’s time we take care of the people who have fought so courageously for our freedom” said Mayor Berke.

On Monday, Mayor Berke and City Council Chairman Chip Henderson met with veterans on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga about the issues they faced both during service and since returning home.

“This is an issue around our country, but I know that Chattanooga can solve tough problems. I am confident we will be able to make a real difference for these brave men and women” said Chip Henderson, City Council Chairman.

Mayor Berke plans on naming the task force members over the next few weeks, with an initial meeting taking place in early June.

UTC is home to the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, a boot camp that helps veterans get the training they need to start and grow their own local businesses.