While it may come as a surprise, over 2,000 people in Chester County called in need of shelter in 2015 and 5,166 people called in need of emergency shelter, according to data gathered by Chester County Housing & Food For ALL 365 (HFA365).
Although one of the wealthiest counties in the country, over 35,000 people in Chester County live below the poverty line, and 34% of the total homeless population is under 24-years-old.
On Monday evening, HFA365 hosted their annual Chester County National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (CCNHAW) kick-off event.
HFA365 is a stakeholder partnership throughout Chester County that works together to increase the community’s awareness of hunger and homelessness through planned activities, programs and news media events. The group includes several community organizations, including the Chester County Food Bank, Coatesville Center for Community Health, Orion Communities, and Bridge of Hope, to name a few.
Event speakers included West Chester University Interim President Christopher Fiorentino, West Chester Mayor Carolyn Committa, Dwayne Walton from Parkesburg Point, and Tori Nuccio from West Chester University.
The evening kicked off with a 20-minute recorded presentation from West Chester Dance Works, a nonprofit “providing opportunities for all to receive exposure to the many benefits of dance.”
Three community champions were honored, including First Presbyterian Church of Phoenixville member and leader Gary Russell, LGBT Equality Alliance founder Rachel Stevenson, and student-run club Rustin Help the Homeless. Each community champion has gone above and beyond to support and/or prevent youth homelessness in the Chester County area.
This was the first year that CCNHAW opened the floor to discuss LGBT homeless statistics and the first year that an LGBT leader was honored during the week’s kick-off event.
To read the entire event program, click here.