Point-in-Time homelessness count needs volunteers to help

UP FOR THE COUNT — Discussing plans for the annual Point-in-Time Count led by the Coalition on Housing and Homelessness for Jefferson and Harrison Counties, which will be held from 8 p.m. Tuesday through 6 a.m. Wednesday, are, from left, Urban Mission Ministries representatives Kelly Jeffers, Tiffany Beckwith, coalition member Jodie Feezle and the Rev. Ashley Steele, coalition president. The group is shown with Gideons New Testaments that will be made available during the count along with mats made from plastic grocery bags, an outreach of Paris Presbyterian Church. -- Janice Kiaski

STEUBENVILLE — The Coalition on Housing and Homelessness for Jefferson and Harrison counties is looking for some help with the annual Point-in-Time Count happening Tuesday.

Coalition member Jodie Feezle explained there are two ways that volunteers can get on board and help with the initiative that works not only to identify the number of homeless people in the two-county area but also to help them understand and benefit from services available.

All are invited to participate in the evening count that begins at 8 p.m. and continues through the night until the following morning, ending at 6 a.m.

“We are specifically looking for individuals to walk and or drive through designated areas of Jefferson and Harrison county to meet individuals and families who are homeless and assess their needs on this particular night,” noted Feezle.

For information, call (740) 282-8010 or send a message by way of the coalition’s Facebook page.

“We will be meeting at the War Memorial Building at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to meet with the volunteers before they go out,” she added. The building is located at 423 North St., Steubenville.

“I’ll take as many as I can get, because we’re covering two counties,” Feezle said when asked how many volunteers are needed. Volunteers don’t have to participate for the duration of the count, she emphasized.

“If anyone would like to volunteer, we would love volunteers,” she said. “The biggest thing is, we need community members from Jefferson and Harrison counties who are aware of any individuals who are experiencing homelessness, to call us, and let us know where they are,” Feezle said in explaining another way people can aid in the effort.

“This doesn’t necessarily just mean the night of the count, but anytime that any community member comes across an individual who is experiencing homelessness. We want to be able to reach the homeless individuals to provide them with support and resources to help their situation,” she continued.

“If anyone does have any information about any individuals who may be experiencing homelessness in their communities, they can call (740) 284-1400 to speak with a homeless outreach specialist.

Feezle said the count is happening Tuesday in every county throughout Ohio.

“The Homeless Coalition on Housing and Homelessness for Jefferson and Harrison Counties is a group of stakeholders within both of the counties that collectively help to identify, advocate and coordinate community resources to ensure that all individuals who are facing homelessness or who are in a homeless situation have access to resources with the goal of sustainability in permanent housing for all individuals within these counties,” Feezle explained.

“The Point-in-Time Count has been happening since 2005, and it has always been one of the last 10 days in January,” Feezle explained. “For our counties, the date is set from the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing of Ohio, which is our state coalition.”

Feezle reviewed the results of the past two counts.

“In 2018, we had a count of 51 individuals for Jefferson County who were homeless during the Point-in-Time Count. In 2019, we had a count of 53 individuals,” she said, “so while the numbers aren’t that much off between the years, we are recognizing that there is a rise within Jefferson County of individuals who are experiencing homelessness.”

The count will include the distribution of free New Testaments provided by the Gideons and mats made from plastic bags, an outreach effort of Paris Presbyterian Church.

The Rev. Ashley Steele, coalition president and executive director of Urban Mission Ministries, said the coalition meets quarterly at various locations. The next meeting would be in April at a date and location to be announced.

“The coalition as a whole really does make a difference in ending or at least significantly decreasing homelessness in our community so if those in the community want to find a way to help in a practical way, they can attend a Point-in-time Count, but they also can become a part of the coalition,” Steele said, noting, “it does takes members of all sectors of the community coming together to address homelessness and that’s one way to do that.”


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