Let’s Make Sure that ALL
Experiencing Homelessness are Counted
Last Wednesday night, an army of volunteers fanned out across the greater Philadelphia area to count the number of people sleeping on the street combined with those sleeping in shelter. The Annual Point-in Time Count (PIT) is required by the Department of housing and Urban Development to measure how municipalities across the country are doing in the national goal to eliminate homelessness and determine funding for services needed for the year ahead.
Family advocates note that the PIT frequently overlooks families, who are a hidden part of the homeless population. If families cannot find room in a shelter or don not want to be divided up, they will hide their homelessness, staying in cars, hotels, substandard properties, sleeping on couches, and living doubled up in other crowded, tense, living situations. They will rarely stay on the street because if they do, they may lose their children to the child welfare system.
PIHN, along with a coalition of 20+ agencies of the Family Service Provider Network (FSPN), participated in a “Families Count – Uncovering Family Homelessness” Press Conference hosted by City Council members Domb and Gym, and joined by Council members Blackwell and Greenlee. This conference was held to reauest city departments to commit to collecting more accurate data to represent themany hidden families and children who interface with their departments, but are not in shelter or visible for the PIT Count.
PIHN alumni, Bruce Thomas, spoke on behalf of the many uncounted families and told of his family’s 10+ year-long journey living with families and friends, without services, supports or a housing plan. Only upon making the decision to come into shelter did things finally begin to come into place for them. After a year in our congregational shelter, Bruce’s family moved into PIHN’s Church Lane House that was so beautifully renovated last sumer thanks to many generous supporters. He, Jen, and the children recently received PHA housing and we are making plans to move in another family in to the house shortly. We would all like to thank Bruce for sharing his family’s story with City Council members and the press.
They didn’t know about me and my family for 10 years.” – Bruce Thomas