SCIOTO COUNTY — The Point-In Time Count (PITC), an annual sheltered and biennial unsheltered count of the homeless population got underway Jan. 26, at 11:59 p.m. and will continue through 12:01 p.m.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires that communities receiving Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Grant funding to complete an annual sheltered and biennial unsheltered PITC.
As is it is their custom, The Scioto County Homeless Housing Continuum (SCHHC) actively participated in the annual PITC with a training session scheduled to prepare volunteers on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 12 p.m. at The Counseling Center’s Second Chance Center located at 526 Sixth Street in Portsmouth.
SCHHC is composed of staff from local agencies that provide housing, such as The Counseling Center, Inc., Operation Safety Homeless Shelter, Sojourner House and Hale House.
Jim Calder, a volunteer for The Salvation Army in Portsmouth took a team of people out to participate in the PITC. Calder is also the driver of The Salvation Army’s Canteen, which is used to go throughout Scioto County to not only search for the homeless, but to also distribute food and other items.
“I talked to quite a few people that were homeless while out taking the count,” Calder said. “I was in Lucasville down in the bottoms. When went throughout the whole area there, and set up at a church that is located in that area. I take the Canteen, and a couple of people with me, and out we go.”
Though Calder and his team were out searching for homeless in Lucasville, he said the people actually came to he and his team first.
“When we gathered at the church about nine people came up to us. We were just driving through to see if there was anybody else out, and to look for places where there were tents set up, but we couldn’t find anything. Most of the places that went to, the people came to us. I gave out hats, coats, scarves, gloves, blankets, food, hot chocolate and coffee,” Calder said.
Calder said he is very passionate about helping out the homeless, and volunteers a tremendous amount of time to do so each week.
“I am a volunteer soldier at The Salvation Army. I cook for The Salvation Army three days a week, and on another two days I am there for whatever they need me to do,” Calder said. help out.
Maureen Cadogan, executive director of the Homeless Shelter in Portsmouth said the Point-In Time Count is paramount for helping the homeless.
“We discovered an area that I have heard about, but no one was actually there at the moment,” Cadogan said. “There was a bed set up off of the ground, and we found so many spots such as this one. The Point-In Time Count is so important because when you see where the people are staying, and to see that people are still living like this in 2016 is devastating, and they need help. If we can count those people, and get a clearer picture of the need here in Scioto County, then it is worth it all.”
Carmen Josey, founder and executive director of Sojourner House Transitional Living in Portsmouth said she was heartbroken by what she beheld during the Count this year.
“We went to an area underneath a local bridge, where someone had something set up like a bed, with blankets, firewood, clothing and shoes,” Josey said. “HUD requires this Count every year, but the whole purpose is to see how many homeless people we have so that they can start send more funding down to our area. Also, we are trying to find homeless veterans because there is funding and places now for veterans to go. There is an office in Ironton, and we met with him and anytime we see a veteran that needs help all we have to do is call them, and they will come and pick them up, and provide them with a place to stay and finances.”
Josey said she and Cadogan left clothing, coats, and hygienerelated items in the areas that appeared to be occupied by homeless people.
“This breaks my heart that we, the richest country in the world, and we have people hiding under bridges and in box cars, and have no where to stay,” Josey said. “It really makes me sick, it literally makes me sick to my stomach. Whatever I can do I will do it, because people should not be living like this.”
Gabe Brown, Facilities Manager for Compass Point Housing, said their agency has been involved with the Point-In Time Count for five year.
“Compass Point Housing houses residents of The Counseling Center, which some of the residents that they have are homeless,” Brown said. “That is how we got involved with the Point-In Time County five years ago. We had to help to maintain the HMI System, the Homeless Management Information System.
Brown said the Count helps important programs that reach out to the homeless population.
“Besides trying help to bring in funding for the Homeless Shelter, and programs like The Salvation Army, and the American Red Cross, it is also to help break the stigma attached to a homeless person,” Brown said. “There have been articles written about peddlers on the street corners, and whether or not you should help them. We don’t know, and who are we to judge them. We are here to help whoever we can help.”
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.