Good morning, and welcome to The Inquirer Morning Newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Aug. 25. Today, we take a look at veteran homelessness, Afghan families coming to Philly, and a beautiful memorial to victims of gun violence.

We’d love to know what you think. Drop us a reply and let’s start a conversation.

— Tommy Rowan (@tommyrowan, morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

Philly ‘eliminated’ veteran homelessness in 2015. Why are there still vets on the street?

In 2015, veteran advocates declared victory. The city had reached “functional zero” for its population of homeless vets. Essentially, the belief was that every veteran who wanted housing would get housing.

But there’s a problem: There are still veterans living on the streets of the country they proudly served.

While real progress has been made, social and mental roadblocks prevent this community from asking for help, often before it is too late.

And although the number of homeless veterans in the city is relatively small, living on the streets has led to grave outcomes for some.

Reporter Marina Affo has the full story on the challenges of finding shelter for our homeless heroes.

First Afghan families arriving in Philly as resettlement agencies prepare for possible surge of newcomers

The first few families have begun to arrive in Philadelphia from Afghanistan. Some will come to this country with only the clothes on their backs and the trauma in their heart, without a friend to call or a relative to embrace.

But there will still be someone awaiting their arrival at the airport.

Members of the Nationalities Service Center “Welcome Team” will bring flowers and balloons, and hand-drawn cards from kids. They’ll tote big signs that say, “Welcome to the USA.”

For many fleeing the war-torn country, these welcoming faces will be the first Americans they’ll meet in this country. But this team knows their good intentions and sincere enthusiasm can’t fully comfort people who have been driven from their homeland by war and violence.

Reporter Jeff Gammage has the full story on the first wave of Afghan refugees arriving in Philadelphia.

Reopening resources

What you need to know today

  • On Tuesday, former-congressperson-turned-gun-safety-advocate Gabby Giffords unveiled a memorial on Independence Mall consisting of 1,700 vases of white flowers, each representing a life lost to guns in Pennsylvania over the last year.

  • COVID-19 cases are on the rise thanks to the delta variant, and there’s a growing concern among small businesses in the area that another potential lockdown is on the horizon. Could this really happen? That depends on whom you ask.

  • More people in Pennsylvania and New Jersey started coronavirus vaccinations in August than in July, and the increase comes after public health leaders have pushed for more vaccinations as the delta variant surges.

  • The Philadelphia school board voted to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for all staffers Tuesday night, a decision affecting 20,000 workers. Details remain to be worked out.

  • Thousands of people incarcerated in state prisons will be counted in their home communities rather than in corrections facilities when Pennsylvania redraws its legislative maps, a major change that advocates hailed as the end of a racist policy.

  • Police said a Bensalem man who shot a 14-year-old boy to death in the parking lot of a Willingboro gas station Saturday may have done so because the victim was driving a car that had been stolen from a friend.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

Wonderful framing and delightful contrast, @thetinybun. An expert #puddlegram.

Tag your Instagram posts with #OurPhilly, and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature here and give you a shout-out.

That's interesting

👟 Wawa is releasing its own sneaker, in collaboration with a Philadelphia-based designer and manufacturer.

📻 Preston Elliot and Steve Morrison, who cohost the popular morning radio program The Preston & Steve Show on 93.3 WMMR-FM, will be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.

🐘Lucy the Elephant, the iconic Margate roadside attraction, will close temporarily. It needs all-new metal skin.

🦅Former Eagles coach Dick Vermeil has been selected as the coaching finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2022.

❤️ Meet Thelma Nesbitt, a water safety instructor with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department by day, and a nursing home nurse by night.

Opinions

“If you’re looking for ways to quantify the depths of the gun violence crisis in Philadelphia, there may not be many bleaker statistics than this: There’s only been one day so far this year — Jan. 2 — when not a single person was shot in the city,” writes The Inquirer Editorial Board.

What we're reading

  • The New York Times’s Sports Desk challenged its sportswriters and editors to find and tell compelling stories that touched on a universal theme: freedom. Seven short portraits emerged from this offbeat project, part of an occasional effort to find stories that fall outside the digital news churn. The story subjects range from a 13-year-old aspiring boxer who found freedom in learning how to take a punch, to an accomplished swimmer who found his freedom outside the lane lines.

  • In a post-pandemic world, brick-and-mortar retail stores may make a comeback, says The Atlantic. And the company that is poised to breathe life back into the vacant storefronts, and coax online shoppers off their couches, is ... Amazon?

  • The Los Angeles Times profiled actress and comedian Molly Shannon, but insights into her buzzy performances in The Other Two and The White Lotus were muted as Shannon opened up for the first time about the personal tragedy that shaped her as a professional and as a person.

Photo of the Day