Wood County’s Point in Time Count returns next week - how it impacts homelessness and how you can help

The annual Point in Time walk is coming to Wood County. Here's a run-down on its impact and how volunteers can help.
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 12:04 AM EST
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Wood County’s annual Point in Time Count is returning next week. It’s a nationwide initiative meant to gather data about homelessness.

WTAP talked to Jaye Bartlett with West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness about the effort.

The Point in Time Count lasts 24 hours. Different groups walk the area at different times gathering data and handing out supplies to homeless people.

“We’ll have goodie bags basically that we’ll try to have different hygiene materials, snacks, as well as resource packets, things like that…,” Bartlett said.

She elaborated, saying, while it works differently in different areas, in Wood County, organizations that work with homeless people lead the walk.

“We love to have members of the community help because they’re the ones who are seeing people in real life time. We’re coming across them when they’re really requesting services most often,” Bartlett said.

The impact goes deeper than numbers. Better data leads to a better response to homelessness. Bartlett says it helps pinpoint where the need is.

“It divvies up exactly - not only the vastness of the homelessness - individuals who are experiencing homelessness - but what specific categories so if it’s youth or individuals who are chronically homeless…,” she explained.

Bartlett said this helps agencies get a better picture of where their resources are best served.

“In the short time that I’ve been here, like I said, we’ve seen a huge increase in even youth experiencing homelessness so we’re able to have a youth coordinator now and things like that…,”

Bartlett said that that shift was seen in youth ages 18 to 24 in recent years. The youth coordinator position was created last year.

Bartlett said the data also helps get grants approved.

“It comes into play in a lot of ways. So, you know, you have to be able to justify, you know, where you’re spending your money for different grants…,” she explained.

Those are just a couple examples of how the data impacts the effort to address homelessness.

If you’re interested in volunteering for the walk or donating supplies to hand out, email pit@wvceh.org.

Wood County’s walk will happen on January 25th at 4pm and will end the next day at 4pm.