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  • Writer's pictureMichael Hays

West Norriton, Others Working to Expand Region's Shelter Capacity

Outgoing County Commissioner Ken Lawrence and staff outlined the recommendations and goals of the Homelessness Task Force during Thursday’s public meeting. 

So far, the most ambitious and impactful commitment from a municipality comes from West Norriton Township, which is looking to open a shelter for 30-35 individuals by this time next year on former Norristown State Hospital land within township boundaries. 

Commitments – at least ongoing conversations – were a key point of Health & Human Services Director Tamara Williams’ presentation. At this time, it appears that a full written report will not be forthcoming. The task force minutes and slide decks are available on the county website (thru September’s meeting). 

Williams noted that Lansdale Borough, Upper Moreland, Lower Merion, and West Norriton townships “stepped up to support the work of the task force.” Between Lower Merion and Upper Moreland, there could be new Code Blue shelter capacity for 10-17 beds. Meanwhile, Lansdale is looking to partner with a non-profit for a yet-to-be-determined number of beds. 

Beginning Monday, Dec. 18, the county will change how it declares Code Blue winter emergencies. The required temperature will be increasing from 20 degrees (F) to 32 degrees, according to an alert from Your Way Home. 

By the numbers 

Your Way Home, created in 2014, is Montgomery County’s single point of entry for those who are experiencing homelessness. If you are sleeping in your car, outdoors, or “couch surfing,” you should call 211 (or text your zip code to 898-211) for assistance. However, during the spring, summer, and fall months – anytime that is not an official Code Blue period – few resources are available, especially for single adults experiencing homelessness. That is one reason why West Norriton’s commitment is so important. 

In 2022, according to Montgomery County, Your Way home served: 

  • 4,466 individuals 

  • 2,583 households 

  • 64 of those were households with children 

  • Age breakdown: 

  • 28 percent of households served were between 25 and 34 years old 

  • 9 percent were over age 62 

  • 23 percent were between ages 35-44 

  • 18 percent were between ages 45-54

  • 12 percent were between ages 55-61 

  • 10 percent were between ages 18-24 

Two new commissioners, Neil Makhija and Tom DiBello, as well as current Commissioner Jamila Winder, will be sworn into office on January 3 during a ceremony at Montgomery County Community College Blue Bell campus.

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