The Northwest Ohio Housing Coalition conducted a survey yesterday to determine a realistic count of the number of homeless people in Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Paulding, and Williams counties.
The "point-in-count" survey gathered information on the number of homeless people or people at immediate risk of becoming homeless to assist the community in providing adequate services.
The coalition contacted a wide variety of shelters, community parks, sheriff and police departments, social service agencies, 24-hour public stores and restaurants, churches, hospitals, shopping centers, libraries, bars, and prisons and jails.
The "point-in-count" is in its third year.
The basic structure remains the same, but the coalition is using an e-mail database for the first time this year, allowing residents and organizations to submit counts by e-mail, said Angela Franklin, a member of the coalition and the community services director of the Northwestern Ohio Community Action Commission.
"It's helped educate our community that homelessness is a problem," she said.
Nancy Hessler, executive director of the United Way of Paulding County, believes that, at first, people were reluctant to speak up if they knew of homeless people or if they were housing people in danger of homelessness. This year, she said, more people are participating.
Social work students from Defiance College volunteered to count the homeless in areas not covered by other agencies and to help assemble the data.
People at risk of becoming homeless within the next three months or who know someone who may become homeless are encouraged to contact the agency to help keep survey statistics as accurate as possible.
All survey information is confidential and anonymous.