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2015 News

Commissioners, Housing and Community Development Release “Point In Time” Count Preliminary Results

February 26, 2015

The Bucks County Department of Housing and Community Development, under the aegis of the Board of Commissioners, has reported preliminary numbers for the eighth annual Point in Time count. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires a count of unsheltered and sheltered homeless individuals in each Continuum of Care receiving federal funding to aid the homeless. 

HUD also requires the annual count to occur during the last 10 days of January. The County completed the count on January 29, 2015. It is one indicator among many that HUD uses to monitor local housing system needs.      

HUD defines sheltered individuals for the purposes of this count as homeless individuals or families residing in shelters or transitional housing. It is inclusive of homeless persons receiving housing and support services to achieve independent living within 24 months and persons residing in any County homeless shelter or a code-blue shelter. Unsheltered people are those who self-report they will be staying in their cars or outdoors the evening of the count.

This year’s County Point in Time team engaged the most volunteers of any previous count and achieved its most comprehensive canvass. Prior to count-day police departments and others throughout the county helped teams identify homeless-congregate-areas. Twenty-eight (28) volunteers trained for canvass methods respectful of homeless individual’s personal dignity and were equipped with knowledge of available resources for the homeless. The volunteer team offered all homeless persons access to a “Code Blue” shelter for the evening and access to a social worker to help them resolve their homeless situation. There were three Code-Blue sites operating on the evening of count-day. All individuals who declined assistance and self-reported they planned to spend the evening in their car or the outdoors were counted as “unsheltered.”  

This year more food pantries cooperated in the “unsheltered” count as well as the Housing Link Response Center operated by the Housing Continuum of Care. All agencies in the county refer individuals and families seeking housing solutions to call the response center of the Housing Link. The response center requests an assessment to match needs with available county resources. Eighteen (18) shelter or transitional housing programs operated by eight (8) Continuum of Care organizations were included in the sheltered count. The first-time participation by new entities contributed to the increased count for “unsheltered” individuals.

The County’s Point-in-Time results and analysis includes understanding three-year trends, which are:  sheltered count for 2013: 410; for 2014: 464, and the 2015 preliminary count: 449; the unsheltered count trend is: for 2013: 41; for 2014: 28, and the 2015 preliminary count: 38.

The final Point in Time report is due in April 2015.

“HUD has acknowledged the quality of our Point in Time project for the previous eight years. Our successful completion of it has been key to keeping us competitive in attracting HUD funds for our housing programs,” stated Roger Collins, director of the Bucks County Department of Housing and Community Development. “It is a small sub-set of all the outcomes we consider in our work to improve housing programs for County residents. And very importantly, this year the results from the Point in Time project will be reviewed by the Housing Advisory Board, a group of 20 individuals from the public and private sector, appointed by the Bucks County Commissioners to study and make recommendations for improving our housing services, both in cost-efficiency and outcomes. Reporting outcomes is an important first step. An informed assessment and translation of them is key to achieving optimal impact from system changes. This ‘opportunity’ represents the core vision and work of the Housing Advisory Board.”