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Volunteers Ready for Ohio's Annual Homeless Count

PHOTO: Volunteers will fan out across Ohio to learn more about people without homes as part of the annual Point in Time Homeless Count. Courtesy of COHHIO.
PHOTO: Volunteers will fan out across Ohio to learn more about people without homes as part of the annual Point in Time Homeless Count. Courtesy of COHHIO.
January 21, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio - From park benches to friends' couches, thousands of Ohioans spend their days looking for a place to sleep for the night. During the annual Point in Time Homeless Count on Tuesday, volunteers will fan out across the state to find those without a home.

Eric Mulryan with the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) says they counted almost 14,000 people last year. They were living on the streets, in their cars, or in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs, he explains.

"We are looking at a 7.5 percent increase, which is definitely significant because our previous year's homeless reports had shown the trend has been a decrease. In between 2010 and 2011, the numbers seemed to be holding steady, and we were worried that we were going to start to see an increase. That's exactly what happened."

Homeless programs in the state's larger urban counties coordinate their own homeless counts. In smaller counties, the counts are done by volunteers who work with local homeless providers. The counts help ensure that those who help the homeless are responding adequately to the needs, and they also help to track progress locally.

Mulryan says they break down the numbers by homeless families, individuals and children, to see which groups may need more attention.

"We also are tracking numbers to see, of those who are homeless, how many of them have been homeless for very long periods of time. How many are disabled or perhaps veterans? Those kinds of numbers can also help us develop programs locally, that might be targeted to a particular population or a particular need."

Point-in-time counts are held nationwide in January, and are required for homelessness programs that receive federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The counts begin at midnight Tuesday and end just before midnight Wednesday. People interested in volunteering are encouraged to reach out to local homelessness organizations for more information or to contact COHHIO at www.cohhio.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH