Letter to the Editor: RE: County Homelessness

The May 3rd article entitled “Winder Looking to Take Bold Action to Mitigate Housing, Homelessness Crisis in Montgomery County”, shines a light on a very difficult challenge in our community. While I applaud the county for continuing to engage stakeholders, frankly it’s time to act.

I recently visited a homeless encampment in Pottstown and participated in a clean-up of an encampment site. The people who I met are in need of numerous social services. From drug and alcohol counseling to mental health services to employment assistance. The 2024 point-in-time count by the county recently reported that Montgomery County has 334 people sleeping in transitional housing facilities and 101 people without any shelter at all.

I was disheartened to learn that our county homeless outreach efforts do not include regular visits to homeless encampments or shelters to better engage the people we are trying to help. The county must do more than provide blankets and warming shelters. They need to have social workers on-site full time and at the warming centers during the evening.  The problem is not just from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Recently, I sent a letter to the County Commissioners and the state Dept. of Corrections opposing locating any homeless encampment at SCI Phoenix. I did so to express my concern that we not merely move the issue, but finally address the issue. 

It’s been almost two years since I first engaged the county as a newly elected state Senator about homelessness. In early 2024, I participated in a county Homelessness Taskforce. To date, I have not seen the final “report” offering any solutions. Montgomery County has received millions of dollars to address this issue over several years. Yet, there has been no accountability and no record of how these dollars are being spent. 

Visiting the homeless encampment is heart-wrenching.  While there are many organizations and people trying to do their part to help, the time for the county to act is now before another winter is upon us.

Pennsylvania Senator Tracy Pennycuick, 24th District
Senator Pennycuick’s district includes Montgomery and Berks Counties

CONTACT: Lidia Di Fiore (215) 541-2388

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