Early Wednesday morning, volunteers across the state will fan out in their local communities to try to get an accurate count of homeless populations. The count is required for all communities that receive Continuum of Care funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The event is known as the Point-in-Time Count. It takes place every year in Ohio on the fourth Tuesday in January. There are two components to the count: a survey of those who are utilizing emergency and homeless shelters, and a search for people who are sleeping in unsheltered areas - like bus stops, under bridges, or abandoned buildings.
Kathleen Shanahan with Montgomery County Homeless Solutions says teams of volunteers will meet at two of the city’s shelters before starting the street count.
“So there’s a downtown team and an eastern team, and a western team," she said. "One team is going to be walking the railroad tracks from downtown to just about the county line and another team that’s sort of [covering] other outlying areas of the community.”
Shanahan says the overall count numbers have been trending down in the last few years.
“That’s the trend that we would like to continue, to see lower numbers in shelters, which are impacted by the economy, the opioid crisis, things that go into people experiencing housing crises.”
Last year, 447 people were counted staying in the city's emergency shelters and 53 people were counted in unsheltered areas.