Growth of Philadelphia’s Homeless Population Slowing, Officials Say

KYW News Radio

The numbers are now in from Philadelphia’s annual count of homeless people out on the streets of the city, and city officials say they show some progress.

Back in January, Philadelphia had its annual “Point in Time” count. After crunching the numbers and analyzing the data, city officials say they counted 1,139 homeless people during the overnight hours Jan. 23 into Jan. 24. That is 56 more people than last year.

Liz Hersh, the director of the city’s Office of Homeless Services, says they would rather see that number go down, but things seem to be trending in the right direction.

“The rate of growth in the number of people who are on the street has dropped,” Hersh said.

In 2017 there was a 36 percent increase in the homeless count compared to the year before. In 2018 it was a 13 percent jump. This year there was only a 5 percent increase.

“You have to slow the train before you can stop it. So, we’re really pleased to see that we’ve slowed the rate of growth,” she said. “What that means is: What we’re doing is working.”

Hersh says expanding outreach and adding 200 shelter beds and 350 long-term housing units in the city has made a big difference.

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