Point-in-Time Count: 615 people homeless in county
● By Steven Hoffman
A report compiled by the Chester County Department of Community Development has found that 615 people were identified as experiencing homelessness in the county on the night of January 28 and early morning of January 29.
The Point-in-Time Count is a national effort mandated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to determine the number of people experiencing homelessness. This includes individuals and families who are residing in emergency shelters and transitional living facilities, as well as unsheltered individuals on the street or in places not meant for sleeping.
Within Chester County, the Point in Time Count is one component of understanding homelessness, and part of the proactive strategy in Decade to Doorways: The Community’s Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness in Chester County.
According to Michael Hackman, Decade to Doorways Administrator, numbers for this year’s Point in Time Count are down on last year, due to the positive impact that the Decade to Doorways strategy is having on individuals and families experiencing homelessness – particularly with regard to ConnectPoints, Chester County’s homeless coordinated assessment system.
“Having ConnectPoints - a ‘single point of entry’ for individuals and families seeking emergency shelter and other homeless prevention services - has helped us tremendously over the past year,” said Hackman.
In Chester County on the night of the Point in Time Count, 15 persons were without shelter, 233 were in emergency shelters and 367 were in transitional shelters. Of the individuals who were sheltered, 17 percent were under the age of 18, 56 percent were between the ages of 18 and 54 and 27 percent were age 55 and older.
The communities where the 15 unsheltered individuals were counted include West Chester (seven individuals), Exton (five individuals), and Kennett Square, Phoenixville and Devon (one individual counted in each of these locations).
Notably, 92 percent of total available beds in emergency shelters were occupied during the Point in Time Count in 2015, compared with 85 percent occupancy in 2014. “This increase in percentage of occupancy is a result of the efficiencies of the ConnectPoint system, and not a reflection on an increase in the number of homeless,” added Hackman.
“The Point in Time Count plays a vital role in helping Chester County assess the level of homeless service needed on a given night. It also provides a baseline for measuring the resources that we need throughout the year, and is instrumental in determining the congressional homeless funding that we receive.”
This year, 88 volunteers from government, educational and civic organizations took part in the Chester County count, divided into 17 teams that canvassed a geographical spread of the County.
A report on the Point in Time Count will be one element of a presentation made to Chester County Decade to Doorways partners and stakeholders at a community networking meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. at the Brandywine Center in Coatesville. This event will also reveal the 2014 homeless year-end data, and include an update on the achievements of ConnectPoints, Chester County’s homeless coordinated assessment system.