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Homelessness on the decline, but drop slow in Pennsylvania

| Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016, 7:45 p.m.

Homelessness in Pennsylvania decreased by half a percentage point from 2015 to 2016, bucking national trends showing the number of homeless individuals is on a sharp decline.

According to fHousing and Urban Development statistics released Thursday, the number of homeless Pennsylvanians decreased slightly, from 15,421 in 2015 to 15,339 in 2016, during the department's annual point-in-time survey.

Since 2010, Pennsylvania has seen a 5.7 percent increase in overall homelessness. The commonwealth ranked 16th in the nation for number of homeless people in 2016.

HUD's statistics are an estimate, based on a count done by county agencies on the same night each year in January.

Statewide, chronic homelessness, defined as individuals experiencing homelessness long term, also declined from 1,442 in 2015 to 1,209 in 2016, while the veteran homeless population decreased from 1,375 in 2015 to 1,136 in 2016.

In 2010, the Obama administration released Opening Doors, a federal initiative to end homelessness. Under the plan, which includes offering shelter to homeless veterans using state and federal funding, unsheltered homelessness declined by 25 percent and veteran homelessness dropped by 47 percent between 2010 and 2016.

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