United Way of Pennsylvania Invites Partner Organizations, Businesses, and Elected Officials to join us in a Commitment to Action to Improve Housing Stability Across the Commonwealth

Statement on the Supreme Court’s Ruling in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson

On Friday, June 28, 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson, upholding local ordinances that ban homeless people from sleeping and camping in public places. Under this rule, localities will be able to arrest, ticket, and fine people for sleeping outdoors on public property, even without access to affordable housing or shelter for those in the community who need it.

As a result of our work at United Way of Pennsylvania and PA 211, we are concerned about the impact of the Grants Pass decision due to the lack of available resources, support, and services for individuals experiencing homelessness or at imminent risk of homelessness. Despite our efforts, we know that housing instability continues to be a real and growing problem across Pennsylvania and the United States.

Each year, PA 211 interacts with hundreds of thousands of our neighbors in need of services across the Commonwealth.  Resource Navigators answer the calls, texts, and chats from individuals who are making impossible decisions between maintaining a roof over their head, putting food on their table, or keeping their lights on. Year after year, PA 211 answers more and more calls from individuals struggling to make ends meet – and nearly 50% of those callers identify housing services as their primary need.

Between Jan 1, 2021, and June 30, 2024, PA 211 has answered over 560,000 calls and texts for housing-related support including more than 207,000 for rental assistance, 194,000 for shelters, and 103,000 for low-cost housing. From 2021 to 2022, and 2022 to 2023, total requests for housing-related services grew 22% and 16%, respectively. Unfortunately, as requests grow, so do unmet needs, which means men, women, and children with no place to call home.

Local United Ways and their community partners are also making efforts to address homelessness and housing instability through programs that focus on rent assistance, eviction diversion, and housing navigation, or by directly funding programs focused on community-specific solutions. Some local United Ways have found innovative solutions such as mobile home reassessment programs, which guide homeowners through the tax assessment appeals process.

Our United Way network is committed to building more equitable and resilient communities where every Pennsylvanian has the opportunity to thrive, and PA 211’s mission is to act as a navigator for our neighbors to find available services that address gaps when they are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Those services simply don’t exist in adequate supply to meet the demand today, and lack of affordable housing is the root cause of homelessness. Criminalizing the act of living on the streets and in public places does not address the root cause. Skyrocketing rents and barriers to homeownership require policy change and multi-sector partnerships at the local, state and national level.

Accordingly, we invite our partner organizations, businesses, and elected officials to join us in a commitment to action to identify short term solutions and to break down barriers that stand in the way of housing stability. It is now more important than ever to pull together to focus on housing security, to coordinate local resources, and to address the need for safe and affordable housing solutions.

As local governments consider their options resulting from the Grants Pass decision, it is our hope that our elected decision-makers will remove barriers to construction and invest in safe and affordable housing in their communities.  


To ensure PA 211’s Resource Database is a complete, accurate, and a helpful reflection of local and statewide resources. Service Providers are invited to update or add services at pa211.org/for-providers


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