Pennsylvanias Rural Homeless Reality.Report as inadecuate

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The Center for Rural Pennsylvania analyzed data from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare concerning rural homelessness for fiscal years 1997 through 1999. Findings indicate that rural Pennsylvania has a homeless population and it is growing. In 1999, more than 21,700 clients received homeless assistance in rural areas, 44 percent of whom were children. Between 1997 and 1999, the number of clients receiving homeless assistance in rural areas increased 20 percent. Much rural homelessness may be unreported because this analysis only included those who requested assistance, and because many of the rural homeless do not fit current definitions of homelessness developed for urban areas. The analysis also revealed that rural areas provide fewer services than most urban areas, most rural assistance is limited to case management services and assisted rental housing, few rural communities have emergency shelters, and most rural homelessness is among the working poor. Lack of affordable housing is an issue in many rural communities. There is a misconception that homelessness is an urban problem, or that when it occurs in rural areas, it affects only transients. For those rural residents facing homelessness because of domestic violence or substance abuse, the social stigma can be overwhelming. Education is an important first step in building an effective service delivery system. Funding is also an issue, as almost three times as many people are turned away in rural areas than in urban areas because of lack of funding. County data on homeless assistance, 1998-99, are included. (TD)

Descriptors: Children, Economically Disadvantaged, Homeless People, Housing Needs, Poverty, Rural Areas, Rural Population, Rural Urban Differences, State Programs, Welfare Services, Working Poor

Center for Rural Pennsylvania, 200 North Third St., Suite 600, Harrisburg, PA 17101; Tel: 717-787-9555.

Author: Center for Rural Pennsylvania, Harrisburg.


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