[NEWS] Reporter's Notebook: Counting the homeless in West Philadelphia | Project HOME

[NEWS] Reporter's Notebook: Counting the homeless in West Philadelphia

  • Reporter's Notebook: Counting the homeless in West Philadelphia

From The Daily Pennsylvanian

Typically when I see homeless people asking for money in the Penn area, I ignore them. But on Wednesday night, I sought them out.

I went down to Congregation Rodelph Shalom at 10 p.m. to meet a group of volunteers counting the homeless in a program called Point-in-Time Count. PIT is federally required in order to have an understanding of the number of homeless people in a given area so that governments can use the data to allocate funds. In 2014, 5,738 homeless people were counted in Philadelphia according to a PIT press release. Despite the high figure, it's not often Penn students stop to acknowledge it.

At 11:30 p.m., I set out with eight other volunteers into the West Philadelphia area. Other groups canvassed different parts of the city. We rode in a van with volunteers Stanley Crawley — a member of Philadelphia Access Center who led the team — Senaka Peter and Kim Wilson. Our first stop was at Fairmount Park on MLK Drive. As we drove, Crawley, a former homeless and mentally ill drug addict who now devotes his time to community outreach, shared his experiences with us.

“Anyone can end up homeless,” he said, it’s important that we “engage with them and respect their space.”