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Homeless Count

By: Jillian Risberg Email
By: Jillian Risberg Email
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UPDATE: 1/28/14 8:30 PM

Twice a year, it determines who's still out there.

And the homeless count connects them with local agencies, programs and shelters that can help.

"It’s a lot easier for people to interact with someone maybe if they're kinda in the flow -- in the traffic flow ya know, on a day-to-day basis versus outdoors,” says Tim Baer, engagement specialist at Westbrook Health Services, who conducts these counts in the winter and again in July.

House to Home is Kenneth Mays’ go to.

"Food, clothing, whatever I need... pop, the water -- tea we got back here and here,” Mays says.

The need is great.

"It’s horrible; ya know, I mean I have extended the hours here every day and they will continue to be extended until the weather breaks,” says Operations Manager Jess Towner.

In these bitter cold temperatures, this is a place that feels like home for many in the area who need it.

"Outdoors we found eight individuals staying along the river,” Baer says. “We also had 65 people at Latrobe Street Shelter, 14 of those were children. We had 19 people at The Salvation Army; four of those were children. We also found there was 369 students in Wood County alone that are homeless.”

Resources are limited but everyone is trying to help.

"They can't get back into The Salvation Army or the Mission until a certain time in the evening, so I’m onna stay open later,” Towner says. “I can't go home and sit and be comfortable knowing that ya know, I got eight or 10 of 'em living in a tent all weekend just because that there's nowhere to go."

There are seven people in the Little Kanawha camp where Leon Geip’s been living for the past three years and he doesn't know what he'd do without such a resource as House to Home.

"‘Cause we wouldn't have a place to shower, we wouldn't have a place to come and get food orders. We wouldn't be able to get clothes to put on our back, blankets, pillows, sleeping bags, tarps -- when they come in, candles... just basic necessities that you need to survive,” Geip says.

Baer says we definitely need more affordable housing to get people to transition or find a permanent place to live.

That would help keep the numbers down.
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They find out how many are out there and the homeless count connects them with agencies that can help.

Tim Baer, from Westbrook Health Services says Monday night they found eight people staying outside along the river.

Sixty-five others were at the Latrobe Street Shelter, 14 of them children.

The Salvation Army had 19 people - including four children - and they also learned 369 students in Wood County are homeless.

"This is an outreach event today to maybe help capture anyone that we didn't find out last night," Baer says. "We're also going to connect with some of the other counties locally that conducted counts and see what their numbers are, in addition to what we have here."

He says then they find out what caused the people to be outside, especially in these conditions, and different ways they can help.

That includes local programs and shelters.


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