Volunteers needed for Point in Time homeless count

PARKERSBURG — Volunteers are being sought in Wood County for the annual count measuring homelessness.

The Point in Time count will be held from 4 p.m. Jan. 23 to 4 p.m. Jan. 24. Counts will be held across America at the same time.

At least 40 volunteers are needed, but more is better, to take part in the count, coordinator Tim Baer said. More teams of volunteers will allow the survey to go into more areas, he said.

Counters will go into the areas and camps where the homeless live, he said. The count at homeless shelters in the county has already been organized, Baer said.

The Point in Time Count is part of a national initiative required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development each year in the last month of January. Communities that receive federal funding for homeless assistance are required to perform a count of all people living in shelters or traditional housing in the last week of January.

The survey will identify whether the person is chronically homeless, an individual, a member of a family or an unaccompanied youth under of 18 or 18- to 24-years old.

The outdoor count will include an evening and early morning survey, according to Baer. The count will be held 7-9 p.m. Jan. 23 and 4-6 a.m. Jan. 24.

People interested in volunteering can attend one of three training sessions where they will be registered, Baer said. More information is available from Baer at tbaer@westbrookhealth.com.

The training sessions will be held 7 p.m. Jan. 18, noon Jan. 19 and 6 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Downtown Bethel Church, 517 Market St., which is the headquarters for the annual count, Baer said.

Sessions will include an hour-long web-based seminar from the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness. Volunteers also will be instructed on the questionnaire that will be used during the survey, he said.

The information obtained in the counts across the state and other states is compiled in the annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The 2017 report said the number of persons experiencing homelessness in West Virginia on a single night in 2017 fell 5.6 percent.