OHS welcomes PIT Count and new funding

OHS welcomes PIT Count and new funding
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Volunteers and officials gathered Wednesday night for the annual Point-in-Time (PIT) Count. Folks traveled from all of Philly’s zip codes to tally and survey Philiadephians experiencing street homelessness. 

The data from Wednesday night will be submitted to Washington in late April. It will also be made available to the public. Philly will also be holding a youth count day on Jan. 23. 

In a release, the Office of Homeless Services (OHS) Director Liz Hersh announced that National figures show that Philly has the lowest street homeless population among America’s large cities. 

“The reason we’re able to progress is because of the hard work of our amazing provider community, the dedication of volunteers and workers, the leadership from City Council and the Mayor’s Office, and the collaborative, can-do approach of Philadelphians,” said OHS Director Liz Hersh said in a press release. “They say we’re gritty, which might be true, but we’re also a caring, compassionate people who truly care and work together. This kind of community mindset helps explain why, in a city still reckoning with a relatively high poverty rate, we simultaneously have the lowest street homeless population. We care about each other.”

In national PIT Count data released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there was a 25-percent reduction in family homelessness over the past three years. Overall there was an 86-percent reduction in the city’s homeless growth since 2016. 

“Since 2016, we’ve reduced family homelessness by 25 percent. That’s over 200 families. Simultaneously, and thanks to data like the kind we’re collecting tonight, we know we’ve reduced the street homeless growth rate by 86% over the past three years,” Hersh said. “Now, we’re adding more long-term housing for the most vulnerable than ever before in Philly history. There’s so much work to be done, but it’s clear that what we’re doing is working. We just have to keep going and growing. Staying stationary isn’t enough.”

At the Wednesday night kick-off, HUD Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Joe DeFelice presented Philly with $32 million to help fund programs next year. HUD does require PIT count to develop a national strategy and to help make big decisions relating to the funding.

“In Philadelphia, HUD is renewing critically-needed funding to nearly 100 existing homeless programs while supporting new projects,” DeFelice said in a release. “This year’s funding includes an additional $295,000 which will go a long way in advancing ongoing efforts to reduce homelessness in the city.”

According to a release, some of the new programs being funded by HUD are listed below: 

-Women Against Abuse’s Safe at Home project providing homes for domestic violence survivors, which addresses the types of unique housing crises survivors often encounter but that are difficult to resolve.

-Catholic Social Services’ Visitation Homes project converting an existing program into a permanent supportive housing program to increase the long-term housing stock in Philly’s system.

-Pathways to Housing PA’s Street to Home 2 project, which reflects 51 units added to the area long-term housing stock to assist single men and women living on the street and struggling with substance use disorder achieve housing stability and improve their health, leveraging Medicaid-funded behavioral health supports.