Homeless count finds no one living outdoors
JANESVILLE Volunteers found no one outdoors during a homeless count that started late Wednesday night and ended early Thursday.
"No families or individuals were found last night," said Jessica Schafer-Locher, client advocate and officer manager at ECHO, in an email.
Each year, the Rock County Homeless Intervention Task Force conducts two 24-hour counts of the homeless population in Rock County. The intent is to reach out to the homeless in Rock County and provide them emergency shelter, Schafer-Locher said.
Information gathered during the count is used for reports that affect funding Rock County receives to provide services to the homeless.
The count included the homeless and those living in emergency shelters, transitional housing or domestic violence shelters. It also included those who are unsheltered and living on the streets or any other place not meant for human habitation.
Sixty-four volunteers were involved in the count, which focused on 12 routes throughout Rock County.
"We check parks, bridges/underpasses, rest areas, used car lots, 24-hour establishments and other locations we have been told a homeless person has been in the past," Schafer-Locher said.
"Many families and individuals are able to find family or friends to stay with when the weather gets extremely inclement, like it was Wednesday night," she said.
The GIFTS men's shelter had 29 men stay overnight Wednesday, which is four above its capacity of 25. House of Mercy was not at its capacity of 25, said Erin Loveland, operations coordinator.
"We're not full because we had a family move out right before the count, but we will be moving somebody in after the empty unit gets cleaned," she said. "This time of year does start to slow down because people are receiving their tax returns and are able to sustain their families until spring."
During the count, volunteers discovered a few new spots to check out for the summer count.
"We saw encampments at those locations, but no people were there due to the weather," Schafer-Locher said.
The count does not include people who can be considered "precariously housed" or "doubled up."
"While these people may have previously experienced homelessness or are at risk of homelessness, they do not fit the current definition of homelessness as defined by HUD and therefore should be excluded," Schafer-Locher said.
"Many agencies know many families or individuals who are staying with friends or family who are on the cusp of being homeless because they have worn out their welcome," she said.