Volunteers needed for homeless count

By Kayla Hawthorne - [email protected]

POINT PLEASANT — Each year, the federal government requires a “point-in-time” count of homeless individuals in order to appropriately serve the homeless population.

The point-in-time (PIT) count will take place on Jan. 21 at 4 p.m. to Jan. 23 at 4 p.m.

Jon Machir, operator of the Mason County Homeless Shelter on 12th Street in Point Pleasant, is heading the count for Mason County. Machir said he needs 60 individuals to volunteer for those 48 hours to get an accurate count of the unsheltered individuals in the county.

Volunteers will be trained two weeks prior on submitting information to an app on a cell phone and the appropriate ways of approaching the individuals they meet. When going out through the county, the volunteers will be in groups of at least three people to ensure safety.

Machir said it would be helpful to have volunteers from every community in Mason County.

“People in Ashton know who are homeless in Ashton. People in Letart know who are homeless in Letart,” Machir said.

The information that the PIT volunteers collect will be uploaded directly to the State Coalition to End Homelessness and then the reports will go to congress.

“This is really a critical count because Congress sometimes looks at this data and decides where they need to provide the funds,” Machir said.

In 2019, the volunteers identified 12 unsheltered individuals in Mason County. Machir said because of the weather on those nights, he believes they missed eight individuals in the count. However, even with 12 people being counted, Machir said that was four times the 2018 count. Machir said there were also areas of the county they did not get, which is why he needs more volunteers for January.

Machir said when they go out to do the count, they will also be able to provide the individuals with blankets, hats, socks and gloves to keep warm until they are sheltered.

If you would like to volunteer for the PIT count, contact the shelter at 304-675-1124. Someone will contact you later to schedule for one of the four training sessions.

By Kayla Hawthorne

[email protected]

Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.

Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.