CoC to conduct homelessness study

Staff report

SIDNEY — The Shelby County Continuum of Care (CoC) will conduct a Point-In-Time Study on Jan. 26. Collecting data on the numbers and characteristics of individuals and families in homeless situations can serve many purposes.

By gaining an understanding of the scope and size of homelessness in their communities, stakeholders can more effectively develop programming and services, and more appropriately allocate resources, better understand needs and trends and engage in more inclusive community planning, the CoC said.

By tracking the number of homeless individuals and families over time, the homeless providers can get a snapshot picture of homeless individuals/families and we can attempt to measure the success of the various programs designed to end homelessness. This report provides a summary and basic analysis of the data collected on homeless individuals and families in the state of Ohio during a 24-hour period. This data does not represent the numbers of people who experience homelessness over the course of the year, which clearly could be much larger.

In these current economic times with increasing foreclosures and unemployment and stagnating wages, it seems there’s even greater potential for increased homelessness, therefore it is more important for Ohioans to understand what homelessness in our state looks like.

In addition, a member of the CoC Committee will be at the Alpha Center on Tuesday, Jan. 26, to speak with individuals who are experiencing homeless and/or housing issues from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Applications from Shelby Metropolitan Housing Authority will be available and direction to resources that are available will be reviewed to meet the client’s need.

Since December 2004, over 40 social service agencies, low-income housing representatives, financial institution representatives, law enforcement and court representatives, clergy, city and county officials, etc., have participated in the Shelby County Continuum of Care to help the community envision, plan, and implement coordinated, long-term solutions to address the needs of the homeless.

CoC meetings are held on the third Wednesday of every other month, with odd months being reserved for the Homeless Steering Committee.

Developing a CoC Plan is a prerequisite to applying for federal housing grants through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. As part of the CoC application for federal funding, HUD requires that communities conduct annual inventories of emergency shelter, transitional housing, and permanent housing units/beds targeted to homeless people.

HUD mandated that CoCs produce “statistically reliable, unduplicated counts/estimates of homeless persons in sheltered and unsheltered locations at a one-day Point in Time.”

To help it understand the extent of homelessness, CoC provides Congress with information on available services and gaps in services, reports to Congress on performance of programs, and to help make funding decisions.

Key Components required in a Continuum of Care Plan include Outreach, Prevention, Shelter, Transition Housing, Permanent Housing, and Supportive Services, and are on an ongoing basis with a collaborative effort of all agencies involved. An attempt at united data collection and reporting on people experiencing homelessness, it is hoped that the information herein will not only serve as a baseline for understanding the current homelessness problem but that it will guide future state homeless and housing planning efforts, CofC officials said.

In addition, data collected will also help CoC provide support for local planning efforts by identifying unmet needs and trends in size and characteristics of homeless populations, supply guidance for development of more effective programming and services, raise awareness of homeless in our community, assist with allocation of resources around local priorities, target interventions for certain homeless subpopulations, identify community goals, and assist in measuring progress toward homelessness reeducation goals. Therefore the goals are to prevent homelessness whenever possible, rapidly re-house people when homelessness cannot be prevented, and provide wraparound services that promote housing stability and self sufficiency.

If you have any questions, contact Judith Wells, chairman of the CoC Committee, at 937-498-9898, ext. 5, or Jan Geuy, co-chair of the CoC Committee, at 937-498-9758.

Staff report