The number of homeless in Seneca County has decreased, but numbers may not tell the complete picture.
According to a point-in-time count conducted Jan. 25, there were 60 people homeless in the county, 43 of whom were without shelter. The count is facilitated by the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and conducted statewide on the same day for the same time period.
The number of homeless counted in Seneca County is significantly lower than 89 counted in 2010. The poll for the four counties represented by WSOS - Wood, Sandusky, Ottawa and Seneca - showed 294 homeless people, compared to 746 individuals and families counted in 2010.
The differences could be due to the counting method.
"One of the issues with the count is that we are no longer counting people precariously homeless, that is to say, people who are (living with others in a non-permanent residence)," said Ragan Claypool, support services coordinator for WSOS Community Action Commission.
According to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, only those people living on the streets or in emergency or transitional housing are considered homeless. Past counts included people and families living in another person's home or other non-permanent residences.
Pat DeMonte, executive director for Tiffin-Seneca United Way, said it is difficult to the homeless in Tiffin and Seneca County because they do not want to be found, and often move from place to place.
Because of these issues, some said the counting method is flawed, even though it is a necessity to receive HUD funding for homeless care and prevention
"We try not to put too much trust in those numbers even though HUD requires it," said Suzanne Gravette Acker, Communications and Development director for COHIO.
While the numbers may have decreased, members of relief organizations said the need has not.
Claypool said transitional housing at WSOS continues to be utilized to maximum capacity, and DeMonte said United Way agencies continue to get requests for support from people who have not needed it before.
In 2009, Tiffin Mayor Jim Boroff started the mayor's task force, an organization to find aid for the homeless population, which could be on the rise due to recession and job loss.
"We know there are dozens of dozens who lost their job, lost their home and are now going from place to place until they wear out their welcome," Boroff said. "There is a need."
The task force is working with Scott Boone, president and chief executive officer of New Housing Ohio, to open Morrison House, a facility to provide emergency and transitional housing for people as they prepare to acquire and maintain permanent housing. Residents of transitional housing also are to get training and assistance to help them find work and permanent homes.
Boroff said the task force met with Boone recently and discovered the facility could be operated for $45,000-$60,000 a year, which Boroff said "is extremely do-able."