Deaths among homeless Philadelphians tripled in the last decade, officials say

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia Health Department has compiled some grim statistics about homeless deaths in the city over the last decade.

From 2009 though 2018, the number of deaths among Philadelphia's homeless population has tripled, largely because of an increase in the number of overdose deaths. 

Office of Homeless Services director Liz Hersh said overdoses now account for 60% of deaths among homeless people.

"Seeing these numbers and seeing in such stark relief how dramatic the impact of the crisis is on people experiencing homelessness, it literally took my breath away," she said.

The percentage of deaths due to other causes such as heart failure, accidents, infectious diseases, cancer, alcohol and suicide have all gone down, according to data from the Health Department — overtaken by opioid related deaths. 

Hersh said the city is focusing on creating more shelter and treatment beds in hopes of bringing those numbers down.