Homeless advocates say state figures leave out many not seeking assistance

Written by Craig Layne and Radio Pennsylvania | Apr 29, 2013 2:20 PM

(Harrisburg) -- While some 34,000 Pennsylvanians received homeless services last year, policy experts are pointing out those figures do not count those living in cars -- or elsewhere -- who are not seeking out assistance.

Among the state's homeless population are more than 9,000 children.

Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania Executive Director Liz Hersh says providers are spending a great deal on helping them.

"We are, in Pennsylvania, spending $321 million annually on all the services that children get from being homeless," Hersh explains. "That's $33,000 per child."

Hersh, and others who testified recently before the state House Democratic Policy Committee, are urging lawmakers to focus on prevention services and early childhood education.

They say helping people who have already become homeless is more expensive than keeping them from losing their homes in the first place.

Hersh says her organization also wants to quash the myth that some people choose to be homeless.

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