Homeless population drops nationwide, rises in PA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 2, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — Nearly 1,000 people in Bucks and Montgomery counties could celebrate this Thanksgiving in a homeless shelter or on the street, suggests new numbers released Friday by the federal government.

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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development figures for 2013 show a decline in homelessness nationwide but a jump in Pennsylvania’s homeless population.

Nationwide, officials linked the falling homeless rates to federal programs and they warned against any budget cuts to HUD.

“We’re making real and significant progress to reduce homelessness in this country, and now is not the time to retreat from doing what we know works,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “I understand these are tough budget times, but these are proven strategies that are making a real difference. We simply can’t balance our budget on the backs of those living on the margins.”

The homeless population dropped by an estimated 23,740 people, or 3.7 percent, last year, officials reported. Yet in Pennsylvania, the population rose by 2 percent to an estimated 15,086.

Federal records detailed the rise and fall in homelessness through the recession and were broken down by community using Excel spreadsheets.

Across the U.S., the majority of homeless live in the largest cities. In Pennsylvania, the largest growth, year over year, was reported in Altoona, Reading and parts of central Pennsylvania.

In Philadelphia, the homeless population dipped slightly, records suggest. The city is now reportedly home to some 5,645 homeless, according to HUD.

As many as 461 homeless were reported in Bucks County in 2013. That’s down from a height of 505 in 2011. The latest figures include 12 military veterans and 41 people said to be living on the streets or in cars in Bucks County.

Montgomery County experienced a slight increase. An estimated 464 people were reported to be homeless. Yet, unlike Bucks County, only a handful of Montgomery County’s poorest (13 people) were reported to be living on the streets. One was reported to be a homeless veteran.

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