BLUEFIELD — The West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (WVCEH) and Community Action of South Eastern West Virginia (CASEWV) are seeking volunteers to aid in the annual point-in-time count of homeless residents of Mercer County.
Not only will this give an accurate count of how many people are experiencing homelessness in the area but it also gives the aforementioned agencies an opportunity to aid these residents. CASEWV staff and volunteers will be completing the count during a 24 hour period, from January 22 from 4 p.m. to January 23 at 3:59 p.m.
After the count is completed CASEWV will be providing these residents with temporary housing, to permanent housing and the means to sustain this permanent housing “so they don’t go back” to being homeless, Jennifer Williams, of CASEWV said.
These resources ready to aid those experiencing homelessness is part of the Family Stabilization Program, Williams said. At the Family Stabilization Center, the needs of these members will be assessed, the appropriate programs will be discussed and staff will follow through.
“When we search for them we go out and look around buildings, under bridges, just anywhere we think a homeless person may be,” Williams said.
As for the number of homeless in Mercer County Williams believes that it is increasing “by a marginal amount at least.”
To volunteer in the pointin- time count you can participate in a training course on January 21 at noon or simply show up to the beginning of the count on January 22, Williams said. The class will be held at the CASEWV Administration Building at 355 Bluefield Avenue.
In the WVCEH point-intime count Mercer County is including in Region 3. This region consists of Nicholas, Fayette, Raleigh, Wyoming, McDowell, Mercer, and Summers Counties. WVCEH statistics show that the estimated population of Region 3 is 253,014 residents.
Of eight regions Region 3 is the second biggest region in the state. Due to the large population, Williams believes that this is a contributing factor to the number of homeless.
The estimated population of Region 3 is second only to Region 1 which consists of Preston, Monongalia, Marrion, Taylor, Harrison, and Doddridge Counties.
In 2019 Region 3 had a total of 137 homeless people, with Mercer having 11 recorded homeless. In 2018 Mercer number of homeless was recorded at 30, in 2017 it was zero, and in 2016 it was 14.
As for the county with the greatest number of homeless in 2019, Harrison County took the first spot with 119. Mercer County tied for the ninth place of the most homeless, with 11 reported homeless, with Jackson County.
In 2019 several counties had zero reported homeless residents including Barbour, Braxton, Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, Hardy, Lewis, and Lincoln Counties.
As for the statewide number of homeless W. Va. had 1,194 residents living in shelters and 740 people living on the streets, in 2010. In 2016 W. Va. had 1,004 people living in shelters and 129 living on the streets.
For more information on volunteering contact Williams at jwilliams@ casewv.org or call CASEWV at 304-809-3052.