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Volunteers Hit The Streets Overnight For Annual Montgomery County Homeless Census

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Before Dawn Wednesday an army of volunteers will fan out across Montgomery County to count the county's homeless population.

 

The annual federally mandated homeless count takes place every year at the end of January, when cold temperatures typically drive more people to seek shelter indoors. That's because, officials say, counting in cold weather often makes it easier to find people who remain outdoors, camping in parks, near railroad tracks or under bridges and overpasses. The homeless census also aims to count anyone sleeping in emergency shelters and transitional housing.

 

In addition to compiling a tally of homeless individuals, Kathleen Shanahan with Montgomery County Homeless Solutions says, volunteers will provide anyone found living outdoors with cold-weather supplies such as blankets, gloves and other items, along with information on shelter options.

 

“And then the outreach workers will also go back out later that day then, once they’ve done that initial count to continue that engagement work, with the goal of ‘let’s make sure we’re connecting people to housing and services,” she says.

Volunteers will also visit county food pantries, including Project Blessing, Life Enrichment Center and House of Bread. 

Last year, the county’s homeless population totaled nearly 600. The overall number of homeless people in Montgomery County has dropped slightly over the last five years.

 

Officials say the unsheltered population tends to fluctuate with the weather. Warmer temperatures typically mean more people are found living outdoors.

 

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.