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Volunteers sought for annual homeless count

From Staff Reports

PARKERSBURG — Volunteers are being sought for the annual Point in Time count to tally the number of homeless individuals in Wood County.

“We go out to obtain data to show the amount of people who are literally homeless, either living out on the street or (in) structures not meant for human habitation or living in emergency shelters,” said Tim Baer, P.A.T.H. (Programs Assisting Those Experiencing Homelessness) engagement specialist for Westbrook Health Services.

The Downtown Bethel church, 517 Market St., Parkersburg, will be the home base for the count, slated to last 24 hours starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22. Volunteers will fan out around the county to record data from homeless individuals in shelters, camps and elsewhere.

“We’ll … be going into a variety of abandoned buildings and structures,” Baer said.

The data will be entered into a mobile app that will record statistics for the count and give service providers an idea of what programs and assistance might be available to those encountered.

The count is organized by the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, and the data is used to help them determine how to deploy resources such as rapid rehousing and permanent supportive housing, as well as apply for federal funding.

A variety of shifts will be available to volunteers, Baer said. People can register to help online at wvbos.pointintime.info or by downloading the Counting Us app on their smart phone and selecting Wood County. They can also contact Coalition housing stabilization case manager Beth Little at 304-931-8210 or bethlittle@wvceh.org.

In addition to going out and speaking with people, volunteers can provide support during the count at Downtown Bethel, Baer said.

To participate, volunteers must attend one of three training sessions, the first one scheduled for 6 to 7 p.m. today at the Market Street church. Other sessions are 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, all at Downtown Bethel.

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