NORRISTOWN, PA – The Montgomery County Office of Housing and Community Development in collaboration with Your Way Home conducted the Annual Point-in-Time (PIT) Count on Tuesday, January 25, 2022. Over 100 volunteers assisted in the effort to accurately count all people experiencing homelessness on one night in Montgomery County.
The 2022 PIT Count identified 568 individuals sleeping in one of the County’s emergency shelters (including hotel rooms paid for with public funding), transitional housing projects, or outdoors. This 118% increase from 2021 PIT Count is attributable to rising rents, lack of affordable housing, and the ongoing impacts of Hurricane Ida. The breakdown of individuals by housing type is as follows:
- 251 people, equaling nearly half of those counted, were Hurricane Ida victims staying in emergency hotel lodging paid for by Montgomery County, awaiting to return to or find new permanent housing after the storm’s devastation*,
- 231 people were sleeping in a site-based emergency shelter on the night of the Count, including active Code Blue shelters due to the frigid temperatures experienced that night,
- 50 people were staying in transitional housing facilities, and
- 36 people were found unsheltered on the night of the Count, down from forty in the previous year. Teams of volunteers assisted, offering supplies to any homeless individuals located outdoors, such as blankets, food, and water, as well as transportation to available Code Blue shelters.
“The rise in the sheltered population in the Count, to me, demonstrates that if there are safe, dignified spaces for people in need to go, they will be utilized,” said Kayleigh Silver, Administrator for the Montgomery County Office of Housing and Community Development. “Without safe, identified, sanctioned places for people experiencing homelessness to go, people may then remain hidden or transient.”
The systemic drivers into homelessness have been stronger than the ability to quickly re-house households experiencing homelessness. A recent multifamily report from Costar for the Philadelphia area demonstrates a one-two-three punch of major challenges now, and for the future.
First, vacancy rates for affordable properties are the lowest they’ve been in the last 20 years, meaning the competition for these units are getting tougher. 
Second, Philadelphia Suburban rents, including those for affordable apartments, continue to dramatically rise.  Upper Montgomery County and Conshohocken/Plymouth Meeting are showing year-over-year rent gains of 12-17 percent.
Third, local forecasts show incredibly limited production of new affordable units in suburban markets. 
To address this, the Your Way Home public-private partnership has launched the Homes For All Initiative, dedicated to ensuring that everyone who lives, works, learns, and invests in Montgomery County has equal opportunity to live in an affordable home and a thriving community. This will involve the participation of governments at all levels, the private sector, and community members.
The Montgomery County Office of Housing and Community Development’s proposed 2022-23 Housing Action Plan budget has $2 million dedicated to combatting homelessness, and $4.6 million to fund the development of more affordable housing. This also includes an increase of $1.2 million to support the location of Resources for Human Development’s new Supportive Short Term Housing program for individuals experiencing homelessness.
Despite the challenges, Your Way Home continues to make strides in solving homelessness by embracing a “housing first” approach. Since Your Way Home’s launch in 2014, Your Way Home has assisted 1,872 households (consisting of 3,291 people) exit homelessness into housing. The Housing First approach helps individuals who are unsheltered or living in an emergency shelter find permanent housing without preconditions or barriers. It then connects them with the community, health, human, and financial services they need to prevent future experiences of homelessness.
Additionally, Your Way Home continues to work to assist renters at risk of eviction by providing emergency rent and utility assistance. Since Your Way Home’s launch in 2014, 6,002 households (consisting of 14,384 unique individuals) have been diverted from experiencing homelessness via Your Way Home Homeless Prevention programs and pilots. Your Way Home has distributed over $60 million in emergency rent and utility assistance since September of 2020 to households impacted by COVID-19. Households experiencing financial hardship are encouraged to visit www.montcorelief.org to apply, call 2-1-1 or text your ZIP code to 898-211.
As the affordable housing crisis continues to drive the need to provide safe, affordable housing (including temporary, emergency, and supportive housing), residents are encouraged to partner with Your Way Home to get involved.
Point in Time Count numbers that are submitted by counties are considered preliminary until HUD reviews and releases the final count.
*Note, currently there are 25 Hurricane Ida victims staying in County-paid hotels.
 “Meanwhile, Philadelphia's suburban apartment market is as tight as it's been in at least 20 years. The average vacancy rate of [Philadelphia] suburban properties has been falling since the start of the pandemic, with vacancies for properties rated 3 Stars or lower now at 2.2%.” And it’s forecast to stay that way for the next 5+ years.
 “However, as the economy has begun reopening, housing markets have tightened, and households have benefitted from three successive rounds of stimulus checks, rent growth in Philadelphia has completely blown out of its typically 1.5%-3% range. As of 2021, Philadelphia rents are running at an impressive 8.8%, mirroring an acceleration in rent gains now being seen in major markets across the U.S. The strongest gains are occurring in lower-priced, outlying submarkets that are benefitted as affordability constraints, and work-from-home arrangements brought on during the pandemic are encouraging renters to venture further out from Philadelphia's more expensive, close-in submarkets.
 “Many suburban submarkets will see substantial reductions in new deliveries over the next two years. The volume of suburban Philadelphia units under construction is already down almost 50% from the late 2019 peak. Partly as a result of the pandemic's shock to construction lending, prime suburban locations such as King of Prussia, Plymouth Meeting, and Upper Delaware County each have fewer than two projects over 50 units currently under construction, which should benefit rents and occupancies among their existing high-end properties. The Lower Main Line and Upper Chester County still have a few sizable newly delivered or under-construction projects that will mean tight competition from new supply through the remainder of 2021 and likely into 2022, but even these areas have begun to see reductions in the number of units underway.
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