CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

January 24, 2011

Counting the Homeless in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania


CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

COUNTING THE HOMELESS

IN WESTMORELAND COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

 

The coalition will conduct the annual census of homeless in the county from 8 to 10 p.m. Wednesday. The census is required to receive federal money for homeless assistance programs through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

     This announcement about the Westmoreland Coalition on Housing (Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania) stated that the census, which will check shelters, the streets and even all-night business to find people without permanent places to live, is required for the county to receive federal money through the Department of Housing and Urban development homeless assistance programs.

     I wondered how the extreme eastern area of the county would fare. Because there are many moneyed people in Ligonier Township (which includes Ligonier and Laughlintown), the area has a reputation of being wealthy. Yet, as I drive down its rural roads, I see (sometimes rundown) trailer homes across from million dollar mansions.

     So what would the census in Ligonier Township show?

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     Volunteers will be stationed at five sites in the county where homeless families and individuals are being asked to report that night. In perusing the list of sites to be covered by the census (Lighthouse Mission in Arnold; Union Mission in Latrobe; Salvation Army in Jeannette; Schooner Youth Center in Monessen; and Welcome Home in Greensburg) there was no indication Ligonier Township was even considered as a site to be included in the census.

     It’s true that Ligonier Township does not have a homeless shelter or an all-night business. I have wondered, however, if there are persons out on the streets. I don’t wander the streets so I cannot answer that question from personal experience.

     However, “the cut,” a road through the Chestnut Ridge between Latrobe and Ligonier Township, separates Ligonier Township from Latrobe and the main part of Westmoreland County. It’s not only the homeless census that ignores the section. I’ve noticed this with another social service, the woman’s shelter, has no services on this side of the cut. I’ve spoken to the agency before about this.

     The coalition hopes to locate individuals and families who are living in areas that are dangerous or inadequate, especially during the winter months. It wants to learn of any special needs the homeless are facing that might have kept them from finding adequate housing, including job losses, drug or alcohol dependency, mental or physical illness, or lack of child care.

     Ligonier Township is a microcosm of the larger society. Within its boundaries are the poor, the homeless, and the domestic violence situations.  They need to be counted—after all, Ligonier Township is part of Westmoreland County.

To read about a different view on homelessness, click on A Different Face of Homelessness.

 

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ADDITIONAL READING:

Lions Still Guard Majestic Buildings

Have I, a Caregiver, Failed??

Shoplifting in Munich, Germany?

When Children’s Service Agencies Won’t Respond to Complaints

www.carolyncholland2011.wordpress.com

 

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