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Pennsylvania sends $6M for homeless services, emergency housing

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(The Center Square) – About two dozen grants totaling $6.3 million will go to 25 counties in Pennsylvania to combat homelessness.

The Emergency Solutions Grants, issued by the Department of Community and Economic Development, can be used for prevention, emergency rehousing, street outreach, emergency shelter, and related uses.

“The funding approved today will go to trusted community organizations to assist individuals and families experiencing or facing homelessness,” department Secretary Rick Siger said in a release. “The Shapiro administration is committed to helping the most vulnerable members of our communities, and ESG funding provides local governments and nonprofits across the commonwealth with the tools they need to help unlock critical housing resources to support them.”

ESG is an acronym used in conjunction with environmental, social, and governance policies in investments.

The largest grant, $1.5 million, will cover a baker’s dozen of counties in western Pennsylvania. Lawrence County Social Services and a dozen other recipients will use the money to fund existing homelessness services in the area. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence will receive $750,000 for statewide efforts to provide emergency shelter, rapid rehousing, and homelessness prevention.

The Center for Community Action will also receive $490,000 for homelessness prevention, rapid rehousing, and emergency shelter services in central Pennsylvania. A full list of awards is available on Department of Community and Economic Development’s website.

The money follows a September announcement that the Department of Agriculture provided $1.6 million for dozens of soup kitchens, food pantries, and shelters to shore up access to emergency meals.

Experts have said homelessness is driven by restraints on getting new housing built, as The Center Square previously reported. Pennsylvania’s home prices have crept up in recent years, whether in urban, suburban, or rural parts of the commonwealth, and in response, state legislators have proposed some wide-ranging reforms to make it easier to get housing built.

However, despite those pressures, homelessness has decreased in some parts. The Department of Community and Economic Development estimates about 15,000 Pennsylvanians are homeless. In Philadelphia, homelessness fell by 22% from 2018 to 2022, along with a 19% reduction in chronic homelessness. In 2021 and 2022, however, chronic homelessness numbers started to rise again.

Administrative issues could make the problem worse in Pennsylvania’s largest city, too: its Office of Homeless Services overspent its budget by $15 million and faces an investigation over the scandal.

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