Homeless numbers take a dip

According to a count collected by WSOS, the number of homeless residents in Wood, Sandusky, Ottawa and Seneca counties declined in 2014.

The results show 124 people were living in emergency shelters, transitional housing or were homeless that day compared to 150 in 2013.

Of that number, 53 had no shelter, 33 were children, while 58 were in transitional housing and 33 were in emergency shelters.

In Seneca County, 28 people were homeless.

WSOS Support Services Coordinator Ragan Claypool stated in a press release several factors may have impacted the count this year. Having completed the count Jan. 28, many of the area’s homeless could have sheltered with friends and family for the night and cannot be counted under U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines.

Claypool said all numbers were down this year, but attributed the decrease to Jan. 28 being the coldest day of winter.

This count, required by HUD, is completed annually by organizations that receive funding to serve the homeless.

HUD also requires regular counts of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people for communities interested in applying for funding through the Continuum of Care application process. WSOS worked with volunteers from local homeless coalitions to conduct the count.

The count in Ohio is facilitated by the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and it is conducted statewide on the same day for the same time period.

WSOS administers grants that aid homeless individuals and families. However, the number of people who request assistance annually far outweigh the funding WSOS receives, said the release.

“We definitely think the numbers are large compared to our rural area, and we always have more requests for assistance that we can provide for, and that’s a concern for us,” Claypool said in an interview.

WSOS is also attempting to increase funding to assist the homeless in the area.