More homeless in Bucks county, fewer in Chester County

Posted: March 24, 2013

The 2013 annual nationwide count of homeless people, taken on the night of Jan. 30 and 31, found fewer individuals in Chester County and more in Bucks County than were tallied in January 2012.

Comparable figures for the nation, as well as for Philadelphia and for Delaware and Montgomery Counties, are not yet available, officials there said this week.

The 625 people counted in Chester County this year compared with 666 found there in 2012.

But the 476 recorded in Bucks County on the same January night this year were more than the 422 in the 2012 survey, due to a change in how information is gathered.

For comparison, Philadelphia counted a total of 5,780 homeless people a year ago.

The Chester County Department of Community Development stated in a report Wednesday that 377 people were counted in transitional housing, 205 in emergency shelters, and 43 without shelter.

Transitional residents are given temporary housing with the understanding that they must leave after a year to a year and a half, said Patrick Bokovitz, director of the Chester County Department of Community Development.

Those sleeping outside numbered 22 in West Chester, 13 in Kennett Square, six in Phoenixville, and, the report stated, two in the Coatesville-Downingtown region.

In shelters in Chester County, the Jan. 30-31 night found 441 adults who were without children and 141 members of 49 families.

Adding the 43 unsheltered, the total comes to 625.

Bokovitz said that 125 volunteers ranged across the county on the night of Jan. 30-31.

"We count the individuals staying in our emergency shelters, and transitional housing providers provide us with a count" of their tenants, he said.

The Bucks County Department of Community and Business Development reported that its Jan. 30 survey found that its 476 total consisted of 324 people in transitional housing, 111 in emergency shelters, and 41 who were unsheltered.

In its January 2012 report, the Bucks County office found 280 people in transitional housing, 91 in emergency shelters, and 51 unsheltered, for the total of 422 people.

Emma Weisser, the administrator in charge of the annual count, said the increase resulted from "a new source of reporting this year."

"We were able to contact people on the emergency shelter waiting list," who were not counted in January 2012, Weisser said.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees the national count, is not likely to have a full count until Congress passes a federal budget.

Brian Sullivan, a spokesman for HUD in Washington, said in an interview regarding agencies that shelter the homeless: "The whole funding process whereby they seek funds and report their data starts and stops with the budget. Without a budget, we can't begin the process" to collect the nationwide homeless data.

Contact Walter F. Naedele at 610-313-8134 or or @WNaedele on Twitter.

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