Children Cannot Wait Campaign Update: Leadership from PA Senator Vincent Hughes, and US Senate Candidates Malcolm Kenyatta and Conor Lamb
A trend that concerns the Children Cannot Wait Campaign is that from 2011 through 2019, the number of school-aged children experiencing homelessness in our commonwealth jumped from 28,000 to more than 40,000. A quarter of those are younger than school age. At this rate of growth, PEC estimates that Pennsylvania could identify more than 50,000 children and youth experiencing homelessness by 2026.
That would be 1,666 classrooms of 30 students each!
In Philadelphia, there was a 37% increase in child and youth homelessness from 2015 to 2020. At that rate, the number of homeless children and youth could be 10,700 in five years, up from 7,881 in 2020, which would be too many to fit into the University of Pennsylvania’s Palestra or Temple’s Liacouras Center!
How can we stop these trends?
The Children Cannot Wait Campaign organized three recent gatherings to raise awareness, and we are planning more convenings.
First, at PEC’s request, Senator Vincent Hughes held a ‘Roundtable Discussion’ to discuss child and youth homelessness in Pennsylvania. The Senator listened to key leaders who serve homeless children and youth every day. He heard the challenges and solutions. One participant was Meg Sneed, Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. She mentioned that Medicaid might have funding to develop a solution to the affordable housing crisis and expressed eagerness to learn of other strategies. Joe Willard of PEC stated that there are thousands of Pennsylvanians working every day to support children experiencing homelessness and recommended that the Commonwealth work to breakdown the silos of the housing and human service systems at the local level.
PEC thanks the other participants:
As a follow-up to this event, PEC will summarize the solutions mentioned and share with you in a future PEC Perspective.
In the second and third events, the Children Cannot Wait Campaign met with US Senate hopefuls Conor Lamb and Malcolm Kenyatta to challenge them to say how they will stop the increase in the number of homeless children and youth, should they be successful in their election bids.
Kathy Desmond, PEC’s President, asked Mr. Lamb, if elected, would he meet with the Campaign to discuss removing barriers to supports from Head Start, home visiting, and other early learning programs for families experiencing homelessness, especially obstacles associated with U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) regulations. HUD is the federal agency responsible for funding shelters and housing programs. Mr. Lamb said "Yes, absolutely," and pledged an open door to him.
Mr. Kenyatta told the audience at his event, "I’m with you 1,000 percent.”
On another note, we are in negotiation with the Jake Corman for Governor and the John Fetterman for US Senate campaigns. The Shapiro for Governor campaign pledged to meet after the primary. The Bill McSwain campaign for Governor reported by email that they do not have time. All other Republican candidates have not responded.
Read more about the Children Cannot Wait Campaign.
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