Annual count of homeless Ohioans begins this week

Jan 21, 2013

An annual effort to locate and count homeless individuals in Ohio will be held this week.

 Mike Foley reports.

The 'Point in Time' Homeless Count is conducted so that private and public agencies can use the results to better address homelessness in the state. Erica Mulryan with the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio says volunteers counted almost 14-thousand people last year – some living on the streets, in their cars, or in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs.

Mulryan: We are looking at, like,  a 7 and a half percent increase.  Which is definitely significant because our previous year's homeless report shows the trend had been a decrease.  Between 2010 and '11  the numbers seemed ot be holding steady, and we were worried that we were going to strat seeing an increase.  and that's exactly what happened. 

The counts help ensure that those who help the homeless are responding adequately to the needs, and they also help to track progress locally. Mulryan says they break down the numbers by homeless families, individuals and children, to see which groups may need more attention.

Mulryan:  We also were tracking numbers to see, of those who are homeless, how many have been homeless for a very long period of time, how many are disabled or perhaps veterans...  Those kinds of numbers can also help us develop programs locally that might be targeted to a particular population or a particular need.

Homeless programs in the state’s larger urban counties coordinate their own homeless counts, and in the smaller counties, the counts are done by volunteers who work with local homeless providers. franklin county's count takes place on Thursday.