A positive trend toward the decrease of homelessness in Bucks continues for 2019 as county officials released the results of a study late last month.
Showing an overall 30% decrease from 2016, the Point in Time count revealed 359 total homeless people. Federally mandated, the PIT count is a one night tally of all people in or out of shelters who do not have a residence.
Taken during a Code Blue on Jan. 29, the count showed:
- 68 sleeping in Code Blue temporary shelters
- 21 sleeping outdoors or other places not meant for human habitation,
- 270 sleeping in emergency shelters or transitional housing units.
A different break down of the numbers also shows the largest group of homeless people in Bucks are children and teenagers under the age of 18.
- 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.
“Our Housing and Human Services Department has worked hard to reduce homelessness in our county,” said Robert Loughery, chairman of the Bucks County Commissioners. “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.”
In a press release, Housing Services Director Jeffrey Fields pointed to several potential reasons for the improvement. These include more focus dedicated to a Housing First approach, creating Housing Locator positions, and adding outreach workers to help homeless people connect to available resources.
“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.”
Interestingly, while the trend of PIT counts falling continued, a new trend has also emerged. Recently, more families and individuals are reaching out to the Bucks County Housing Link.
Tallying 5,882 screenings for 2018, these callers are people who may be facing a housing crisis or are already homeless. This is a 19 percent increase from 2017, but the county released no clear reason for this growth.