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05Mar

Fewer Found Homeless in Bucks, As More Reach Out for Housing Help

Bucks County Courier Times 

Volunteers located 359 homeless people through Bucks County’s 2019 point-in-time count, conducted in late January to identify people living in emergency shelters, transitional housing or outdoors. The figure marks a 9.6-percent decrease in individuals identified from 2018, though county officials say other statistics show homelessness remains a pressing local issue.

Bucks officials have released preliminary data identifying fewer homeless individuals living in the county, even as more people have called in about housing or homelessness crises.

Figures released late Thursday show community volunteers were able to locate 359 people living in emergency shelters, transitional housing or outdoors in Bucks County during its 2019 point-in-time count, conducted the night of Jan. 29.

Even so, officials said, the Bucks County Housing Link have received an increase in homelessness crisis calls — in 2018, its workers completed 5,882 screenings for assessment and housing referrals, a 19-percent increase from the year prior.

The Bucks County Department of Housing Services is required to carry out homeless counts each year and submit the data to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Officials use the data in applying for government and private grants to prevent homelessness.

The 359 homeless individuals identified last month represent a 9.6-percent decrease from the 397 people volunteers found in January 2018, which in turn represented a 22.3-percent drop from 511 individuals counted in January 2017.

Of the 359-person total, the county found 270 homeless individuals sleeping in emergency shelters or transitional housing, 68 people in Code Blue shelters for the night and 21 people sleeping outside or in other spots “not meant for human habitation” — a term HUD defines to include cars, tents, abandoned structures or bus stations.

One hundred and twenty-four homeless individuals, or 35 percent, were children under 18 years; 26 people, or 7 percent, were young adults ages 18 to 24 years; 28 people, or 8 percent, were domestic violence victims; and six people, or 2 percent, were identified as military veterans. Thirty-one people, or 9 percent of those counted, came from chronically homeless households that experienced long-term or repeated homelessness.

The county volunteers counted 198 homeless women, 159 men and two transgender people. One hundred and fifty-six of the homeless people were identified as individuals while 203 people were determined to be part of families.

Bucks officials say the data reflects an overall 30-percent decrease in homeless people found during the point-in-time count, with a 57-percent decrease in street homelessness and a 54-percent decrease in homeless veterans since 2016.

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