Friday, January 20, 2012

Counting the Homeless in Darke Co.

Shown is a profile of a homeless young man,
going over his naval recruiting papers at the
Darke County Emergency Homeless Shelter.
January 25th is the date set for the fifth Point-In-Time study of a twenty-four hour period to tally the number of sheltered homeless and those persons who are homeless and cannot be surveyed. There are those individuals living in cars, at campgrounds, under bridges or other locations throughout the county. Homelessness is not just in Greenville. Even the smallest town in Darke County has those that are not sheltered.

The history of this study goes back to September of 2004 when the Darke County Continuum of Care was created and dedicated to ending homelessness within our communities. The intent is to raise awareness of the factors that put people at risk, working together in addressing all contributing factors and securing necessary support services to assist individuals and families in maintaining safe, affordable and decent housing.

The purpose of the local Continuum of Care is the framework for a comprehensive array of outreach, emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing, and supportive services to address the varying needs of persons who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The local plan is also a prerequisite to applying for federal housing grants through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Other funding entities such as state Ohio Department of Development and local governments are also requiring the sign off from the local Continuum of Care. With the efforts of the Darke County Continuum of Care, additional funding has been made available to Darke County to prevent homelessness and to assist those who are homeless to find stable housing.

Melissa Sparks, chair of the Continuum of Care, stated, “This year, the local Point-In-Time Study is a mandatory study. Places we are contacting include veterans’ organizations, nursing homes, hotels, churches, the homeless shelters, and many social service agencies.” She explained, “The importance of the study is to try and recognize the barriers that people face and to help them before they become homeless. The Darke County Emergency Homeless assisted 78 individuals in 2011. Over half of these did report a source of income, but due to economic hardships, they had no place to live. Just this past May, we had a young man who was homeless and about to graduate from high school. He came to the shelter and finished his studies so he could receive his diploma. In addition, he had enlisted in the Navy and was to report in mid-June. He had no where to go following graduation until his time to report to the Navy. We recognized his potential to succeed and decided to extend his stay at the shelter until he could report to Basic Training.” Sparks went on to say that if anyone knows of someone who is homeless or even living in a camper in the back yard on January 25th, please help by calling the CAP office. The point of contact for the P-I-T study is Community Action Partnership (CAP), 1469 Sweitzer St., Greenville, OH 45331, phone 937-548-8143.

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