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Homeless count

COLUMBUS, Ohio – As temperatures dropped into the single digits, volunteers fanned across Ohio to find those without a home.

The annual ‘Point in Time’ Homeless Count was held this week across the state.

Nearly 14,000 people last year were found living on the streets, in their cars, or in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs, Eric Mulryan with the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio said.

“We are looking at, like, a 7.5 percent increase, which is definitely significant because our previous year’s homeless reports had shown the trend has been a decrease. In between 2010 and 2011, the numbers seemed to be holding steady and we were worried that we were going to start to see an increase – and that’s exactly what happened,” she said.

“A record 8,800 people slept in homeless shelters last year. They are our neighbors, moms and dads, brothers and sisters and children. 17% more women are looking for shelter compared to a year ago,” said Michelle Heritage, executive director of Columbus’ Community Shelter Board said.

The board – which usually sends volunteers out overnight to count the homeless population – has decided to ask the homeless to come to Veterans’ Memorial, 300 W. Broad Street, to be counted and receive some help as well.

The change came after studying successful methods used by other communities and the need for a special emphasis on getting an accurate count of homeless youth, Heritage said.

Adults are invited to arrive between 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and youths 14-24 years of age between 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Various agencies will have representatives on hand to provide housing, employment, benefits and other income support as well as consultation, behavioral health services and health screenings.

Warm meals, clothing, and referrals to a variety of other necessary community resources will be available all day.

Teams will visit known homeless encampments during the day to count anyone who is unsheltered and does not appear at count headquarters, the board said in its most recent newsletter.

Teams will visit known homeless encampments during the day to count anyone who is unsheltered and does not appear at count headquarters, the board said in its most recent newsletter.

An overnight count was conducted using the local homeless database and volunteers were stationed at free community meal sites and combed the land to reach those unaware of the event.

Maryhaven Coordinated Outreach Team provided transportation to Vets Memorial from known camps.

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