NORRISTOWN, PA – The 2023 Point-In-Time (PIT) Count has identified more than 350 individuals sleeping in the County’s emergency shelters, transitional housing sites, or outdoors. This figure marks a 37% decrease from the 2022 PIT Count, which ballooned because of individuals displaced from their homes by Hurricane Ida.
The count was taken on the night of Tuesday, January 24, 2023, with the final figures now tabulated and released.
Specifically, the 2023 PIT Count found:
- 217 people sleeping in a site-based emergency shelter on the night of the count, including active Code Blue shelters.
- 30 people staying in transitional housing facilities.
- 110 people found unsheltered on the night of the count, an increase from the 36 people found in 2022.
The increase in unsheltered individuals encountered in the 2023 PIT Count reflects a change in how the count was conducted.
Montgomery County’s Office of Housing and Community Development thoroughly revised its PIT methodology this year to include targeted and intentional outreach to community leaders with local knowledge of those experiencing homelessness for participation in the count.
As a result of the change, the 2023 PIT count was far more accurate and comprehensive than it has been in years past.
The June 2022 closure of the 50-bed Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center (CHOC) facility in Norristown also contributed to the number of unsheltered individuals; however, that capacity was partially replaced by the County contracting for additional hotel rooms.
“We have made progress overall in bringing the number of unhoused people down over the years, but it is completely and morally unacceptable to find more than 100 of our fellow citizens living without a roof over their heads,” said Montgomery County Board of Commissioners’ Chair Kenneth E. Lawrence Jr. “We need to work together at all levels of government, including with our municipal partners, to ensure we more fully address this issue.”
The rise in the unsheltered population in the county, to me, demonstrates the increased need for safe, affordable, dignified housing,” said Kayleigh Silver, Administrator for the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Housing and Community Development. “Recent research has shown that communities where people spend more than 32% of their income on rent can expect a more rapid increase in homelessness. Here in Montgomery County, we know through our data and research that nearly half of renters are cost-burdened and costs of housing have risen in almost every municipality, in some instances 12-17 percent year over year.”
Systemic drivers into homelessness have been stronger than the ability to quickly re-house households experiencing homelessness. Lack of housing affordability remains a large factor in housing instability in Montgomery County and nationwide.
A snapshot, provided by the Montgomery County Planning Commission currently indicates:
- There are only 37 affordable rental units per 100 households making below $35,000 in Montgomery County.
- The majority of Renter Households (65.5%) with household incomes below $35,000 are severely cost burdened, meaning they pay more than 50% of their monthly income toward gross rent (including utilities).
Resources have been made available to combat this challenge. The County’s proposed 2023-24 Housing Action Plan budget, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has approximately $1.2 million dedicated to combatting homelessness. Additionally, the following funding and programming administered by the County assists in addressing homelessness and housing affordability:
- $32.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for housing, accounting for 325 new affordable housing units, funding creation of two new temporary housing facilities, preserving existing affordable units, and creating a foundation for future affordable housing.
- $3.9 million in funding for homeless efforts from HUD Continuum of Care
- $4.6 million to fund the development of more affordable housing from HUD’s Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) and HOME-ARPA
- $353,000 in funding for emergency food and shelter programs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Despite challenges, the nonprofit Your Way Home continues to make strides in solving homelessness by embracing a “housing first” approach through meaningful partnerships with providers and community groups. Between 2020 and 2022, 84% of Your Way Home Rapid Rehousing clients maintained permanent housing stability after exiting the program.
Since its launch in 2014, Your Way Home has assisted more than 2,200 households (consisting of about 3,850 people) exit homelessness into housing. The Housing First approach helps individuals who are unsheltered or living in an emergency shelter find permanent housing without preconditions or barriers. It then connects them with the community, health, human, and financial services they need to prevent future experiences of homelessness.
In 2022, there have been 7,343 eviction filings in Montgomery County. Your Way Home has continued to work to assist renters at risk of eviction by providing emergency rent and utility assistance. In 2022, Your Way Home distributed over $42 million in emergency rent and utility assistance to over 4,900 households impacted by COVID-19.
Your Way Home also continues to manage the Eviction Prevention and Intervention Coalition (EPIC), which is a project designed to stabilize vulnerable families and individuals in Montgomery County facing eviction by providing them with free legal and social services support on the day of their eviction hearing.
The 2023 PIT Count was performed by the Montgomery County PA-504 Continuum of Care (CoC) under the direction of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services Office of Housing and Community Development.
Thirty-eight volunteers of local community groups and homeless service providers assisted in the effort.
During the counting process in January, volunteers offered supplies to homeless individuals located outdoors and transportation to available Code Blue shelters. Items distributed were recommended by the Your Way Home Lived Experience Advisory Team and donated by the community through the Your Way Home PIT Count Wish List.
Volunteers surveyed areas in and around Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bridgeport, Cheltenham, King of Prussia, Lansdale, Lower Merion, Norristown, Pennsburg, Pottstown, Royersford, Souderton, and Willow Grove; however, unsheltered individuals were encountered throughout the County.
Residents interested in contributing to a unified voice for positive change in Montgomery County around issues of homelessness are welcome to join the Your Way Home Continuum of Care (CoC). Membership in the CoC is free and open to any person or organization committed to ending and preventing homelessness in Montgomery County. Anyone interested can register for membership in the CoC at https://yourwayhome.org/continuum-of-care.
Point-in-Time Count numbers submitted by counties are considered preliminary until HUD reviews and releases the final count.
Media Contact: Communications@MontgomeryCountyPA.Gov