CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — The Resilience Collaborative, also known as United Way of Harrison and Doddridge Counties Homeless Services Program, is leading the initiative in a Point in Time Count of individuals experiencing homelessness in the counties so that it can better distribute funds and resources.

On Wednesday, volunteers who are helping with the count met in the Glen Elk area in Clarksburg and dispersed to start the count. Those individuals experiencing homelessness are going to be asked to take a survey by volunteers, as well as be given food items, water, coats, and care packages with resources.

“We’re looking for individuals or families that might be sleeping under the bridge, or on the street, or in places not meant for human habitation. So, we try and go out and locate those individuals so that we can give them information,” said Stephanie Sumpter, Permanent Supportive Housing Coordinator for the Clarksburg Harrison Regional Housing Authority. “We can count them in the count, you know, and be able to distribute, you know, there are funds to areas that need it the most to support programs and to provide housing to individuals, not only the housing but the other added supports around it.”

United Way’s Homeless Services programming was launched in April 2020 to develop an evidence-based, person-centered process to ensure that homelessness is rare, brief, and nonrecurring in Harrison County. Its Street Outreach Program is operated by trained street outreach staff who connect with people living outside where they are and work to link them to permanent, stable housing, behavioral healthcare, medical care, and addiction treatment as applicable.

“The outreach activities are basically allowing people to engage us very openly, low barrier, we offer services around housing application, housing readiness, getting people into rehab if they have an addiction crisis, we offer healthcare, Health Access partners with us with the healthcare, and we also do things like showers and hygiene,” said Tom Rhine, Director of Street Outreach and Case Management with United Way.

“There is this theory that you can end homelessness,” he continued. “Really there are many types of homelessness that really can be ended. Homelessness that is related to poverty, there are a number of good programs that are in this community to connect them to resources so that they can step into housing. The housing authority does a brilliant job with their Section 8 and public housing systems. We connect people to the housing authority. Ending homelessness though means the entire community has to recognize it, it really is a big problem for Clarksburg, much of it related to drug use, so obviously, there is treatment that needs to be—we need to encourage people to get treated—we have to give them time to get sober and get well, we have to have really excellent case management to help them through the stabilization period. It takes a real whole community to make this work.”

On Thursday morning, another group of volunteers will meet at the First United Methodist Church to conclude the count. All counting teams included a street outreach worker with resources to be given to the unsheltered people.