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Bucks County's 2018 "Point in Time" Homeless Count Numbers Reflect 22.3 Percent Decrease From 2017

February 7, 2018

On Wednesday, January 24, 2018, community volunteers performed Bucks 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 2018 results that will be reported to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reflect a significant decrease over the January, 2017 Bucks County count.

During the recent count, 397 people were identified in emergency shelter, transitional housing or outdoors in Bucks County. That represents a 22.3 percent decrease from the 511 who were identified during January, 2017.

According to Bucks County Commissioner Chairman Robert G. Loughery, the decrease can be attributed at least in part to proactive steps the County has taken to reduce homelessness. “The majority of our decrease (99 less than 2017) was due to the reduced number of people residing in transitional housing beds,” Chairman Loughery said. “Since the 2017 PIT Count, 79 transitional housing beds have been shifted to a rapid rehousing model so that the people in those programs are now placed directly into their own apartments with leases in their names.”

Another factor influencing the PIT Count involved the number of people utilizing emergency shelters and Code Blue shelters, which increased by 10 percent compared to 2017. The Bucks County Emergency Homeless Shelter in Levittown was at 105 percent capacity for the night of the count. That helps to account for the 61 percent year-to-year decrease in street homelessness for the night of the count (49 in 2017 vs. 19 in 2018). In addition, the change in practice of prioritizing and verifying street homeless for shelter admission and increasing the use of using rapid rehousing programs have allowed increased shelter admission of those most vulnerable and improved transitions to permanent housing, with support as needed.

Further analysis of the preliminary data shows 319 individuals in emergency shelters or transitional housing, 59 in churches of hotels/motels provided by charitable organizations (including the county’s three “Code Blue” shelters), and 19 who were located outdoors or in other places not meant for human habitation. Of the 397 individuals identified, 125 (or 31 percent) were children under the age of 18, another 30 (or eight percent) were youth between the ages of 18-24, and 61 (or 15 percent) were victims of domestic violence. Additionally, 13 (or three percent) were identified as Veterans and 25 (or six percent) were chronically homeless individuals experiencing long-term or repeated episodes of homelessness. The preliminary results will be submitted to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for an anticipated April, 2018 approval.