May 23, 2016
A new five-year plan to help Pennsylvania residents out of government-assisted housing and into communities was unveiled by the Office of Governor Tom Wolf.
The heads of the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), and the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) released the strategy on Monday at Shepherd’s Crossing in Mechanicsburg.
“Too many Pennsylvanians live in institutions when they could live at home with the right supports. Too many are rent-burdened and too many Pennsylvanians experience or are at risk of homelessness,” said Governor Wolf. “Today is about working together to find ways to make better use of our resources so that we can make affordable housing a reality for more Pennsylvanians.”
According to the plan, 53,574 state residents are living in government-assisted institutions who could live in the community.
Moving just 500 people out of nursing homes to independent living could save the state $15.7 million annually, according to DHS.
Additionally, 15,421 state residents were experiencing homelessness or are at-risk of homelessness during 2015.
The rate of homelessness in the state has been increasing since 2012, even though the national rate has been declining.
Compounding the problem is the average renting cost for one-bedroom housing in the state, which is $739/month.
Housing is considered affordable if no more than 30% of the household's income pays for housing. So a person would need to make $14.21/hour to afford the rent of an average one-bedroom residence.
The plan calls for state agencies to collaborate with all levels of government and private agencies to connect people to affordable housing.
“There is no quick fix to addressing these issues,” said DHS Secretary Ted Dallas. “This is a marathon and not a sprint. Comprehensively addressing housing issues will take more than the steps we are announcing today and will take some time to complete. The strategy we announced today lays out our vision for the next five years and the steps we will have to take to bring this vision closer to reality.”
The goal of the program is to help many of the affected Pennsylvanians by 2020.