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Homelessness a Continuing Problem

It's a problem happening across our region and now that the winter season is upon us, experts say homelessness is becoming even more of an issue.
STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - It's a problem happening across our region and now that the winter season is upon us, experts say homelessness is becoming even more of an issue.

It's a problem Ginny Poorman never thought she'd see in Centre County.

"I didn't. I started when I went to Pittsburgh for the first time and was just blown away by how people just walk by homeless people," she said.

But Poorman sees it happen here, everyday.

"The population here got more visible about three years ago," she said.

Over the past few years, Ron Quinn has noticed an uptick, too.

"People are seeing folks they may identify as being homeless in various parks, at the library and other locations," Quinn, Director of Housing Transitions in State College, said.

He says last year alone, Housing Transitions helped about 1,400 families in Centre County. Not all of those families were homeless, but Quinn says homelessness is a complex issue that needs to continue to be addressed.

"There are people who are doubling up in their households, there are people who are going from household to household, sleeping on couches, they're sleeping in cars," Centre County Office for Adult Services Executive Director, Natalie Corman, said. "It's really understanding what homelessness means in our community so we can find solutions for them."

Poorman may have part of that solution.

"We'll be opening a resource center where they can apply for jobs, get help with temporary housing, food," she said.

A new resource center, called Hearts for Homeless, will not only provide shelter from the cold during the day, it will also be a place to help those who are homeless move forward.

"A lot of these people want to work and are hard workers," Poorman said. "They just can't find jobs. You can't walk into a place and apply for a job when you're homeless and you haven't showered and you're carrying everything you own on your back."

Poorman says the center is something the community will benefit from.

"They're changing your perspective, your outlook," she said. "I find myself different times every single week, feeling like I'm the one who's being helped, not the other way around."

Officials with Centre County can't nail down an exact number of the population of homeless people, but say another count to verify numbers will be taken in January.

Hearts for Homeless is hoping to open their resource center before the end of November.
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