Get our newsletters

Tackling homelessness in Bucks County


The Bucks County Housing Group recently paired up with Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church to provide a presentation on the Bucks County’s homeless population and how to help families and individuals attain permanent housing and food security.

The BCHG is a nonprofit service organization which provides a wide range of housing, food and related social services to homeless and food-insecure families.

Presented at St. Mary’s Hall across from the church, the presentation drew swarms of residents.

Housing Group Executive Director Erik Clare led the conversation.

“We believe that raising awareness and fostering community engagement are crucial steps towards ending homelessness in Bucks County,” said Clare.

The group was formed in 1972 by a local activists and became the BCHG in 1979. Its official opening was in 1980. Since the beginning, the Bucks County Housing Group has worked to combat homelessness and food insecurity in Bucks County.

According to Clare, since the COVID-19 pandemic, the need has been growing.

The group owns a half-dozen or so locations across the county for housing. Its first site was located in Penndel. Since its inception, the BCHG has served about 375 clients and distributed more than 600,000 pounds of food to individuals and families.

The BCHG also provides services beyond housing and food insecurity. These include street outreach; eviction prevention; emergency shelter; housing planning; and housing locators.

“Three hundred and thirteen Bucks County residents are homeless on any given night, and 10.4 percent of residents are food insecure,” explained Clare, who added these are the people accounted for, meaning that number could be even larger.

One audience member said it “absolutely blew me away the first time I met a homeless person, penniless, who graduated from this high school down the road.”

The audience member said he was surprised to learn homelessness affects people who have lived in Doylestown their entire lives.

“I think it would be worthwhile to take this message and bring it to younger people,” he added. “It might shake some people up and make them put their cellphones away and do some homework.”

The number of families and individuals struggling grew significantly from 2022 to 2023. The 2024 numbers have yet to be released, but they are expected within the next few weeks.

“To afford a two-bedroom apartment in Bucks County, a $24.96 hourly wage is necessary, which too many cannot attain,” said Clare, who added homelessness has only grown with inflation.

One of the main problems the Housing Group faces is a lack of locations due, in part, to the dearth of available properties and the funding needed to build new ones.

“Zoning is the biggest complication” explained Clare when asked why abandoned schools can’t be turned into housing. Ideally, the group would build a “senior living” community where residents can help better each other.

“They want Bucks County to be an amazing place to live, which it is,” Clare said. “But we have to keep working at it to keep it that way.”

The group’s biggest need is to spread awareness and bring people together to combat homelessness. Engaging with local government is the first step.

“They are a lot more receptive than they’ve been,” said Levit. “It’s hard work right now.”

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.