Philadelphia homeless count up slightly

    The number of homeless people in Philadelphia is slightly higher than last year, according to first tallies of this year’s count. City organizations working with the homeless conduct this annual count as part of the federal “point in time” counting initiative. It helps them see which programs and initiatives are working, as well as giving them a better sense of demographic trends among the homeless.

    The preliminary count shows 370 homeless n Philadelphia, a little higher than least year’s count of 352, according to Laura Weinbaum of the Philadelphia organization Project H.O.M.E.

    While even a single person living on the street is too much, she said, this year’s slight increase is not bad news.

    “Given the state of the economy and the fact that there has not been any marked recovery, to have a flat trend of homelessness is not terrible,” Weinbaum said.

    Weinbaum says the city’s many different approaches to ending homelessness are making a difference.

    “There’s recovery models, there’s mental health models, there’s models for people who are medically fragile,” she said. “I think it’s really important to have a constellation of different types of programs in your universe to be successful in the fight against street homelessness.”

    Regular counts of the homeless population are making outreach efforts more effective, as organizations have a clear sense of where homeless people congregate, and what their specific needs are, said Jane Vincent with the regional offices of Housing and Urban Development.

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