OHIO VALLEY — Social service organizations in Gallia, Meigs, Jackson and Vinton counties will be tallying the number of homeless persons in their counties from sunset January 22 to sunrise on January 23.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires that communities receiving Continuum of Care (COC) Homeless Assistance Grant funding to complete an annual sheltered and biennial unsheltered “point-in-time” count during the last 10 days of January. The data collected during this count assists our COC locally and across the state to plan future services geared toward ending homelessness, understand changes in trends among homeless populations, comply with reporting requirements from HUD, other funders and local stakeholders, and justify the need for continued resources to aide the homeless.
The point-in-time count of homeless men, women and children living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, on the streets, and other places not meant for human habitation is being coordinated by the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) and the Gallia-Jackson-Meigs-Vinton Continuum of Care. The count is done by asking social service organizations, churches and other service providers to distribute homeless questionnaires to persons who are present at their locations throughout the week of January 21. Completed questionnaires are returned to the COC and the data tallied as part of the state-wide effort.
The information collected during this count directly impacts the local continuum of care’s ability to identify gaps in services and compete for funding.
“Before I started working with the homeless, I was completely unaware of the homeless population in our small community,” one volunteer said. “It was something that just didn’t cross my mind because it’s not something that you see when you stop at a red light or go to the grocery store. Most people, like me, have this preconceived notion that a homeless person will be standing on the street corner holding a sign or pushing a grocery cart down the street, wearing layers of clothes. This isn’t something we see here in our rural community, but they are out there.”
According tot he COHHIO’s homeless report for 2011, a total of 13,003 people were counted among the homeless during a single day in 2011 in Ohio — a figure up 4.8 percent from the count in 2010.
Of the over 13,000 homeless individuals in Ohio in 2011, 11,197 of those persons were counted among the “sheltered” homeless, or those living in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs during point-in-time counts. A total of 1,806 were unsheltered persons living on the streets or other places not meant for human habitation.
Among those counted in 2011, 5,218 were members of a homeless family, 7,785 were individuals, or families without children and a total of 101 were unaccompanied children under the age of 18.
A total of 2,018 of those counted had a severe mental illness, 2,746 had a chronic substance abuse problem, 83 had HIV/AIDS and 1,215 were victims of domestic violence.
Additionally, in 2011, a total of 10.6 percent, or 1,381 of the homeless population accounted for, were veterans — an increase of 42.8 percent in homelessness in veterans from 2010.
Chronically homeless persons, or those who have been homeless continuously for over a year or has had four episodes of homelessness in the past three years, numbered 2,164.
Point-in-time data collected in 2012, was not available on the COHHIO’s website as of press time.
According to the information providing the 2011 annual report, statewide reporting of homelessness began in 2008, and since the inception of the point-in-time count, the data collected in 2011 represents the highest number of homeless seen in the state since before 2008.