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2019 News

Annual Count Finds Fewer Homeless, Though Crisis Continues for Many

February 28, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jeffrey Fields, Housing Services Director, 215-348-3844, jsfields@buckscounty.org

Preliminary results of Bucks County’s annual census of people experiencing homelessness show a decrease in the count from a year ago, even though the number of people reaching out for help with a homelessness crisis continues to grow, county officials announced this week.

On Tuesday, January 29, community volunteers performed the county’s annual, federally mandated “Point in Time (PIT)” Count.  The one-day PIT is a count of sheltered and unsheltered persons experiencing homelessness on a single night in January, compiled by the Bucks County Department of Housing Services.

The preliminary 2019 results that will be reported to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reflect a 9.4 percent decrease from the January 2018 count. 

During the recent count, 359 people were identified in emergency shelters, transitional housing or outdoors in Bucks County. Of these, 68 were sleeping in Code Blue temporary shelters for the night, 21 were sleeping outdoors or other places not meant for human habitation, and 270 were sleeping in emergency shelters or transitional housing units. 

In addition:

  • 124 (35 percent) were children under the age of 18;
  • 26 (7 percent) were young people ages 18 to 24;
  • 28 (8 percent) were victims of domestic violence; and
  • 6 (2 percent) identified as military veterans.

Since 2016, Bucks County has seen an overall 30 percent decrease in the PIT count, a 57 percent decrease in the street homeless count, and a 54 percent decrease in the veterans count.

County officials attribute this decrease to several factors, including:

  • An increased focus on a Housing First approach to serving homeless families and individuals;
  • The addition of dedicated street outreach workers to engage with and connect street homeless persons to housing programs and other needed supports; and
  • Creating Housing Locator positions to help high-barrier families and individuals more quickly locate safe and affordable housing.

The reduction in veterans’ homelessness can be attributed to the work of the Bucks County Veterans Action Team – a collaboration of the County of Bucks, the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, and non-profit organizations working to identify and rapidly serve and house homeless veterans throughout the county.

“Our Housing and Human Services Department has worked hard to reduce homelessness in our county,” said Robert G. Loughery, chairman of the Bucks County Commissioners. “The results of this PIT demonstrate that. It has been a collaborative effort, focused on getting families and individuals who experience homelessness into temporary – and then, hopefully, permanent – shelter. These efforts will continue, and so will our approach to make sure there is more affordable housing in the county for families.”

Although Bucks County has seen a significant decrease in Point in Time count numbers, the number of families and individuals who call the Bucks County Housing Link for a homeless crisis continues to grow.  In 2018, the Bucks County Housing Link completed 5,882 screenings, a 19 percent increase from 2017.

“I will encourage Bucks County to continue a stalwart effort to ensure that every resident has a home,” County Commissioner Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia said. “We hope all municipalities will join us in making sure that safe, affordable housing is available.”

PIT (2)