Living Columns & Blogs

Initiative to identify Centre County’s unsheltered homeless population

Every year, Centre County joins the state of Pennsylvania in a nationwide initiative called the Point-in-Time count. PIT offers an opportunity to locate and connect with the unsheltered homeless population that our service providers may not already interact with.

During PIT, we are able to collect valuable data on how many unsheltered homeless individuals/families we have identified to refer them to the most suitable resources that meet their unique needs and identify housing service gaps in Centre County. During last year’s count, four individuals were identified as being unsheltered and homeless on the night of Jan. 25; meaning they had slept somewhere that is typically not meant for human habitation. These individuals were located in local restaurants, living in their vehicles and on the street. The unsheltered homeless population may also be found sleeping in tents, hallways, campground sites, abandoned buildings or under bridges. During the day, they may find respite at various retailers, restaurants, libraries and other community buildings.

This year, teams will be canvasing Centre County on Jan. 25, looking to connect with and provide services to the unsheltered homeless population. Teams will ask where they slept the night before (Jan. 24), offer housing and shelter referrals and provide care packages. In addition, teams are also looking to speak with individuals/families who are homeless but “doubled-up” (i.e., staying with family and/or friends) or may be experiencing near-homelessness to discuss emergency, temporary or permanent housing options. While four unsheltered homeless individuals were identified last year during PIT, it is imperative to recognize that, on the same night, 73 homeless individuals were sheltered in either one of our emergency shelters or transitional housing units.

Homelessness is a very real issue in Centre County and, in an effort to connect with the individuals/families that need our services the most, we are asking for your assistance. If you know the whereabouts of someone who is homeless, or you yourself are homeless, please contact the Office of Adult Services at 355-6768 ext. 2 or no later than Tuesday.

Faith Ryan is the director of Centre County’s Office of Adult Services.