Point in Time Count data reveals homelessness is growing in Wood County
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - The final results of Wood County’s Point in Time Count are in, revealing that homelessness is growing in our area.
WTAP sat down with West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness’s Matthew Hedrick to get the full picture.
The point in time homeless count is an annual initiative to count the number of homeless people on the streets and in shelters.
This year, 79 homeless people were counted in Wood County. Back in 2018, that number was 29.
Hedrick said that more volunteers involved in the effort could account for some of the rise but that, regardless of that potential boost to the numbers, the population is growing.
When it comes to the story behind the increase in recent years, Hedrick points to housing.
“Kind of the big one is the problem with finding housing right now. It’s a very difficult time to find housing, not only for homeless service projects but for anyone on the private market. Anything like that,” he said.
He also believes Covid assistance being drawn back is a factor.
Hedrick said this increase is a trend they’ve seen across the board, not just in Wood County.
The Point in Time Count doesn’t just collect generic numbers. It collects more specific data too.
Hedrick said, “We are seeing a decrease in family homelessness, that’s any household that has at least by HUD’s definition has one child and one adult but we’ve seen an increase in individual homelessness.”
He added that they’ve also seen a decrease in veteran homelessness and an increase in chronic homelessness.
“Chronic homelessness is defined as a homeless individual who has been homeless four or more times over the past three years or continuously homeless for one year or longer,” Hedrick said.
Again, Hedrick clarified that these trends are across the board, not just in Wood County.
Hedrick said a lack of adequate mental health services and substance use treatment services are major contributors to homelessness in our area as well as everywhere.
He added that the issues Wood County faces aren’t unique to Wood County.
If you are struggling with homelessness or want to help people who are, you can reach the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness at 304-842-9522.
To look at data collected through the years in all of the counties West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness serves, click on the link below.
When looking at the numbers, keep in mind that higher numbers are seen in counties with higher populations and there are two shelters in Wood County, which adds to that, as well as the fact that the count in Wood County was very thorough, according to Hedrick. Still, he said that the unsheltered count is on the higher side in Wood County.
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