CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Harrison County is experiencing a rise in unsheltered individuals experiencing homelessness, and that’s a concern with frigid temperatures hitting the region this week.
Last week, the Clarksburg Harrison Regional Housing Authority completed its annual “Point in Time” survey, finding 14 individuals in Harrison County experiencing homelessness — a number that Permanent Supportive Housing Coordinator Stephanie Sumpter says is above average for the area.
The “Point in Time,” which is done in conjunction with Homes for Harrison and the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, is a nationwide initiative that uses surveys to collect information to be sent to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“It also gives us a chance to connect with these individuals experiencing homelessness,” Sumpter said. “We take care packs with us to give them things and to connect with them. We also put together a packet of information with resources, and that helps gets them connected to all the different services and things to help resolve their homelessness or at least get them connected to the things to help them to start building the bridge to get to that point.”
This way, Sumpter says, they know where they can go, who they can call, and they have someone to get ahold of that can help them through the process.
And that process is different for many people experiencing homelessness.
For instance, someone who just recently became homeless would have different needs than someone experiencing chronic homelessness.
“There’s different programs that meet the needs of where somebody is at,” Sumpter said. “It helps determine those that are chronically homeless and then what programs fit their needs to get them to a point where they can sustain stability in housing, to get them connected with services like with case management.”
Others may require more short-term programs, while others still may simply need help getting connections and follow-up.
“That’s what the survey does too. It helps kind of give us an idea, when we do find the individuals, where we’re at with them and what we need to do to help them,” Sumpter said.
With single digit temperatures this week and lows dropping below zero, all of those experiencing homelessness have one need in common — shelter.
Clarksburg has an emergency shelter sponsored by the Change Initiative and the Clarksburg Mission for those in need.
“That’s what’s so great about our community and the involvement, just the commitment that they give to our folks that may be experiencing homelessness in the area,” Sumpter said. “Things like that, I mean, our community is great with reaching out and helping with those that may be experiencing homelessness and living out on the street.”
The emergency shelter is located at the United Methodist Temple Church at 665 Locust Avenue in Clarksburg and is open from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. Jan. 29, 30, 31 and Feb. 1.