Monongalia Among Local Counties to Conduct Homeless Count - Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Monongalia Among Local Counties to Conduct Homeless Count

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Several local counties have begun the annual process of accounting for their homeless populations. They're using a 2013 Point-In-Time Count created by the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness.

The Caritas House is taking a street count of homeless individuals in Monongalia County.

On Thursday night, more than 40 volunteers took to the streets, looking for homeless or at risk individuals to take a survey. They hope the answers they find can further the services that organizations in Monongalia County offer.

"We have a 24 hour period. HUD designated that the count be done in January, every year, across the nation," said Sharon Wood, executive director at Caritas House. "They feel that people are less transient at that time and we get a more accurate count."

The volunteers that help with the count ask homeless or at risk individuals certain survey questions to help better the services provided for them in the county.

Allee Williams is one of the volunteers participating in this years homeless count.

"I'm a nursing student at WVU, and our nursing instructors have a lot to do with the organizations around here," said Williams. "It was one of the things that was offered to us, and it seemed very interesting to me, and I've never done it before."

Caritas House and the volunteers gave out emergency kits to the people who will be spending the night in the cold. They included sleeping bags, tarps and other things to protect them from the elements.

Caritas House also provides information for the people to have after the count is over.

"We have a good many resources. Sometimes they're scattered and it's difficult for people to locate them," said Wood. "We pass out that resource information here as well. If we contact veterans we connect them with the vet center so they can get the services available to them."

"We're still able to provide these services for them and that's one of the things that I didn't expect that there are as many services through out Morgantown that can help them," said Williams.

Wood said that the city of Morgantown needs to put more cold shelters up so people can come in, warm up, and be on their way.

"Well, we're hoping that the data we gather during this count, will convince city and state officials that we do need another cold shelter in Morgantown," said Wood. "We have a homeless shelter that currently houses 80 people. It was designed for 40."

The Bartlett House is the homeless shelter in Morgantown and has been at double capacity for more than seven years.

Caritas House Inc. will leave the BoParc Office on the rail trail open Thursday night for people to come in and get warm. Breakfast and lunch will be served at that location at 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

The homeless count will end Friday around 3:00 p.m.

Volunteers in Barbour, Upshur, and Preston Counties also have begun the process of gathering information about their respective homeless populations.

On Thursday, volunteers gathered at the Barbour County Courthouse Square to conduct the Point in Time surveys.

In Preston County, the United Wesleyan Church held a community dinner in conjunction with the effort.

In Upshur County, the Hall Neighbors House in Buckhannon hosted a community lunch.

Volunteers will continue to conduct the surveys Friday.