Oct 19, 2023 - News

Homelessness up in Philadelphia for second year in a row

Data: Annual Point-In-Time counts from City of Philadelphia and U.S. Housing and Urban Development; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Annual Point-In-Time counts from City of Philadelphia and U.S. Housing and Urban Development; Chart: Axios Visuals

Homelessness rose for a second year in a row in Philadelphia, according to the annual point-in-time survey.

Why it matters: Homelessness is a longstanding problem in Philly, which is made worse by the city's affordable housing crisis and high poverty rate, as well as rising inflation.

State of play: Homelessness in Philadelphia ticked up 5.2% in 2023 compared to the previous year, with a total of 4,725 people experiencing homelessness, per the survey, which was released recently.

Yes, but: Homelessness remains below pre-pandemic levels, falling nearly 18% from 2019.

Be smart: The latest figures come from the annual point-in-time survey, a federally required count of homelessness — living in shelters, transitional housing, safe havens and on the street — on a single January night.

What they're saying: Candice Player, vice president of outreach for Philadelphia nonprofit Project HOME, said the number of homeless individuals is likely significantly higher because the survey fails to count certain people, like those who are couch surfing.

  • She said the city's lack of affordable housing, combined with the end of pandemic-era assistance programs, are driving the increase.

By the numbers: African Americans are disproportionately represented among the total number of those experiencing homelessness in the city, accounting for the largest share at 68%.

  • Childhood homelessness increased 5%, compared to 2022.

Zoom in: Center City, 30th Street Station, and the Philadelphia International Airport are among the places most impacted by homelessness in the city.

  • Of note: Where homelessness appears throughout the city can depend on the weather.

What we're watching: The city is aiming to start distributing $42 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding in the coming months for homeless services in the city, Sherylle Linton Jones, a spokesperson for Philadelphia's Office of Homeless Services, tells Axios.

  • Meanwhile, the Kenney administration is expected to start new housing projects for young people aged 18-24 this fall.
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