Montgomery County homelessness count drops one-third from previous year

More than 350 people found without housing in latest count, but officials warn it doesn’t tell broader story
Homeless man in city with sign
Photo credit blanscape/Getty Images

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) Montgomery County released its annual count of people who are unsheltered or homeless. It shows a drop from last year, but officials say it’s only one snapshot of a nationwide issue.

Montgomery County’s Point-In-Time count was done on the night of January 24. It found 357 people across the county in emergency shelters, traditional housing facilities, or outside — down more than a third from last year as the county was still dealing with damage from remnants of Hurricane Ida.

However, County Commissioner Ken Lawrence said the count doesn’t catch everyone.

“It's much harder to count, you know, a person who's sleeping in their car in Lansdale, or Ambler because you don't know where they are, and you don't know what they're doing,” said Lawrence.

He said while the county can provide funding for affordable housing, all 62 municipalities need to help with zoning. However, the “not in my backyard” mentality is a big hurdle to providing housing options for people who are spending 30% or more of their income on housing.

“These are municipal workers. These can be school teachers. Break down the stereotypes of what affordable homes are and what impacts they have on the community,” urged Lawrence.

He said lack of affordable housing availability can be different than homelessness due to drug addiction or mental health, where wrap-around treatment services are needed. But he added those problems cannot be solved by centralizing services only in Pottstown and Norristown.

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