Homeless in Philly by the Numbers

How much do you know about the homeless of Philadelphia? You are probably aware of the fact that there are people living on the streets of the city, but the statistics may shock you.

Morador de Rua Estação Conceição spShelters all around Philly are filled to capacity. However, 48% of families are turned away just because there is no room for them. That means if we double the number of shelters in Philadelphia, then we may just barely be able to accommodate those seeking help.

These numbers only include those who are seeking shelter. Many young people refuse to go into emergency housing because of the conditions.

The need for Coordinated Assessment is increasing. This is where a person’s or families’ specific needs are evaluated and measured in order to decide what type of program they should enter. For the most part, the choices are transitional housing or emergency housing. Transitional housing offers services that can teach occupants a trade or some type of skill. In addition, participants would learn about bills they have to pay, building credit, etc.

Services, if properly funded, can end the perpetual cycle of homelessness. If a family has a source of reliable income, then these shelters wouldn’t be needed. And isn’t that the ultimate goal?

Transitional Housing. Just the phrase sounds as if it is a stepping stone to a better life for is participants. However, when a family or individual must go through approximately 37 different people just to see if they qualify for the next stage, it seems as if transitional housing is more bureaucracy than any service should be.

Another issue surrounding homelessness is education, or lack thereof, for the children. Children without homes cannot access Headstart or quality pre-k. With only 26% of Philadelphia going on to college, there is a major call for reform. An appalling 38% of youth do not have their high school diplomas.

Without a diploma, it is nearly impossible to start a business. With the difficult processes of gaining licensure and capital, the American dream of being one’s own boss is almost impossible to attain.

So what is the solution? There is no cure all. An ideal plan does not exist. However, if you feel as if any of these numbers need to change, contact local legislators and make your voice heard.

Interested in PathWays PA posts on similar topics?


  1. We are a homeless shelter in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We provide meals, shelter, medical and dental care and a range of counseling and coaching services to help transform lives. We attract primarily donors and volunteers through our web site.
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