Description of the Indicator
Homelessness data is tracked annually via point-in-time counts reported to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 2021, local agencies responsible for conducting the point-in-time counts were given the option of modifying count procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, some data has been limited – in particular, data on shelter status is incomplete and thus the total number of unhoused individuals does not include those unsheltered at the time of the count in cases where unsheltered data was not collected. Data is reported by Continuum of Care regions across Pennsylvania. These include Lackawanna County, Luzerne County, and the Eastern Pennsylvania Continuum of Care, which is composed of 33 primarily rural counties – including Wayne County.

Why is it important?
Tracking the number of homeless individuals is important for understanding the scope of homelessness and the potential for gaps in resource coverage. This data could aid in combatting homelessness and offer insight into the types of housing needed.

How is the region performing?
Lackawanna County has experienced a decrease of 49 homeless individuals from 2022 to 2023. Conversely, unsheltered individuals in the county were at an all-time high in 2023, increasing by 22 individuals from 2022. The number of children under the age of 18 has also increased from 2022 to 2023 (by 24 individuals).

Luzerne County also experienced a decrease of homeless individuals have also decreased from 2022 to 2023 (by 57). The number of unsheltered individuals decreased by one. Similar to Lackawanna County, the number of homeless children under the age of 18 has increased from 2022 to 2023 (by three individuals).

The Eastern Pennsylvania COC experienced a decline of 925 (40.4 percent) homeless individuals from 2022 to 2023. Since 2016, the number has decreased by 1,234 (47.5 percent). The number of total unsheltered individuals has also declined from 2022 to 2023 (by 92), and the number of unsheltered individuals decreased by 20 for the same period. The number of homeless children under the age of 18 has decreased by 97 individuals and is 29.3 percent lower than values recorded in 2016.

It should be noted that this is the only official data on homelessness. The methodology to collect this data is flawed and based on anecdotal and other data. The Institute believes the number of individuals identifying as homeless is much higher in the region.