Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Homeless Count in the WCH

Erin and I traveled down South to Washington Court House, the seat of Fayette County. The Community Action office invited us to attend a "point in time" homeless count. Volunteers canvassed the city and county to get an official count of the homeless population there. Some of those homeless men and women came down to the community offices to provide information about their specific situation. And we were there to make sure they were being taken care of in terms of food assistance.

In Franklin and other larger counties, the homeless remain a severely underserved population. There are all sorts of reasons for this, but a less obvious one is that most counties require their clients to have an address to qualify for food assistance. No address means no place to send the Ohio Direction Card means no benefits.

The first thing I did was ask the folks at Community Action if clients could use their address for homeless clients. They said it wasn't necessary.

"Jobs and Family Services just uses their own address. Doesn't every county do that?"

No. Every county does not do that. Your county is clearly awesome.

So here we have a county where most of the long term homeless population is able to eat because of food assistance. Not great for Erin and I performing applications that very day, but that is a good problem to have. Every homeless person that walked into that office already had food assistance.

I hope every county follows Fayette's example. I understand that might not be possible in larger counties. I understand that it means taking a lot of extra steps. But it's worth it.

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