I was only able to post this data because of research kindly provided by Lori G. Sywensky, Norco's Community Development Grants Administrator. Lori is one of many people in government who really do care. She's just one of many names you'll rarely see in the paper. We see the embezzlers or folks who abuse their credit cards. But there are many more Loris. If you attended last Thursday's meeting of Northampton County Council, you'd see the appreciation its members expressed to her for her efforts with the homeless.
In last week's post, I noted in a comment that Northampton County Council had unanimously adopted a resolution seeking $233 thousand from the state for emergency shelters. "It will get it, too. The amount of money has gone up every year since I've been following it."
Although the amount being requested has increased, the actual money received is another story. As Lori explains it, "Last year, we applied for $175,560 on behalf of five area shelters. The state's DCED thought we would receive around $180,000, but due to drastic cuts in McKinney-Vento Act funding, the state only awarded us $61,988 for use in two of the shelters. PA DCED told us in November that they received a slight in increase in Emergency Shelter Grant funds this year, so we're hopeful we can get money for some more of our projects this year." For the first time in four years, Congress has increased funding for homeless children by $2 million.
Here's the rest of the homeless research provided by Lori.
Income as a Factor
* As in 2005, most adults residing in the LV's shelters (68.5%) had diplomas and some post-secondary education. Strikingly, the percentage of persons having attended college increased in 2006 from 7.7% in 2005 to 11.4% in 2006.
• About 25% of the adults staying in shelter in the LV last year were employed, an increase of almost 4% from the previous year. Thirty percent (30%) of adults in family shelters were working, with an even larger number (48%) of heads-of-household actively seeking employment.
Disability as a Factor
* Monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments for an individual are $603 in Northampton County. If SSI represents an individual's sole source of income, $181 in monthly rent is affordable. Fair Market Rent for a one-bedroom is $668.
* Over 25% of the people staying in one of the LV's shelters identified themselves as having physical or functional disabilities, with 15% of them receiving SSI or SSD.
Race/Ethnicity as a Factor
• County residents who are African American and Latino/Hispanic continue to be disproportionately effected by homelessness. However, the numbers vary greatly when comparing families and individuals who stayed in shelters.
Caucasian make up 87.6% of the county population, 30.9% of families in LV shelters and 57.2% of individual adults in LV shelters.
African American make up 3.8% of the county population, 25.4% of families in LV shelters and 23.5% of individual adults in LV shelters.
Hispanic or Latinos make up 8.3% of the county population, 41.6% of families in LV shelters and 15.4% of adult individuals in LV shelters.
U.S. Census Bureau, "2006 American Community Survey" (Northampton County)
Lehigh Valley Coalition on Affordable Housing. "2006 Lehigh Valley Shelter Census: A Survey of Nine Lehigh Valley Homeless Shelters"
National Low Income Housing Coalition, "Out of Reach, 2006."
Northampton County Pennsylvania Five-Year Consolidated Plan & Annual Action Plan: October 1,2007-September 30, 2012, as prepared by Triad Associates and approved by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, October 2007.