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Montgomery County conducts point-in-time homelessness count

3 tents sit in a line.
Elvert Barnes
The point-in-time count is used to assess how to best allocate resources for the rest of the year.

Montgomery County Homeless Solutions conducted its annual point-in-time count of unhoused people overnight Thursday. Volunteers from several local organizations gathered at 3:30 a.m. to count the local unhoused population.

The count was originally going to take place on Wednesday, but was moved due to the winter storm warning.

By gathering an understanding of how many people there are and where they’re gathering, the organization can assess the needed housing and services for the year.

Kathleen Shanahan is a project coordinator with Homeless Solutions.

“We use it when making funding decisions as well as planning to be able to see where there are trends,” she said. “Who needs what? Where does it look like we need the most assistance? How are our individual programs doing? And we measure the effectiveness of our entire system.”

The count is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Organizations and communities across the country all engage in the one night count that must take place in the last ten days of January, a time when many unhoused individuals are taking refuge in warmed shelters.

Additionally, many individuals may have funds to have a temporary shelter like a motel for most of the month but run out by the end, resulting in them living on the streets.

The point-in-time count allows not only local organizations to get a better understanding of the unhoused population, but at the national level as well. Trends in unhoused and unsheltered individuals can be better understood.

“It also is just a very visible reinforcement of why this work is important, and why every single person is important and why we count everybody and why every single person is important,” Shanahan said. “Just because someone is out of sight doesn’t mean that they’re out of mind.”

During last year’s count, 570 individuals were counted — 29 of whom were unsheltered.

You can find more information and statistics about the unhoused population in Montgomery County on the county website.

The final count from Thursday will be released in March.

Garrett is a WYSO intern and graduate of University of Dayton. He spent time covering the Dayton area with WDTN Channel 2 News after the 2019 Memorial Day Tornado outbreak. It was around this time that he began listening to NPR and fell in love with radio-based journalism. Garrett graduated from UD in May of 2021 with his Bachelor’s in Communications with a focus in journalism and graduated in May of 2022 with his Master’s. While not working at WYSO, Garrett is an avid reader, loves to play video games, and hanging out with his friends.