VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — A community survey conducted by the county on July 28 to assess the “homeless situation” in Vigo County revealed over 300 people living in the area without a permanent residence.  

Volunteers with the Homeless Council of the Wabash Valley visited strategic locations for the count and made calls to shelters and transitional homes. Homeless people were interviewed with a short survey to assess their needs, according to a news release.

However, some homeless populated areas were unaccounted for, that’s because more time was spent assessing the individual needs of the homeless. That means not all homeless could be contacted and that total could be higher.

Vigo County Commissioner Brendan Kearns says the survey helps specify the biggest needs locally.

“The biggest need is mental health care. It shows us these are people that need help in some form and it could just be a simple medical check. Our goal is when we do the face to face interactions is to figure out what they need and help them get the care they need,” Kearns said.

He adds that the survey is conducted in the summer due to the homeless being more visible.

Personal hygiene items provided by the Bethany House, Terre Haute Youth Ministry, Reach Services, bug spray provided by the Vigo County Health Department and other items were distributed as needed. 

Reach Services Housing Program Manager, Sarah Chandler says accurate data helps the organization better serve those in need.

“We do the numbers here because we want to see how many are out there, we want to see how many are couch serving and how big the problem really is. So we know how much grant funding to apply for to combat homelessness,” She said.

The results of the informal assessment are as follows:

Sheltered: 318
People staying in hotels, shelters, recovery houses and housing programs for individuals who do not have housing. Also known as “transitional housing”. Numbers were gained through site visits and phone calls to administrators.  

Unsheltered: 49
People who are living on the street or in non-habitable conditions (abandoned homes, structures, tents and vehicles).

The approximate total of individuals accounted for as being “homeless” on Wednesday Sept. 9 within Vigo County is 367.

This number is down from last Summer when a count was conducted on Friday, July 19, 2019, with a total of 566 homeless people.

Kearns adds regardless he wants to see the those numbers get lower.

“When you look at 360 plus or minus people that are considered homeless or people in transitional housing or actually living in the street, that’s a number we don’t want to see,” Kearns said.

A separate survey will be conducted to identify the homeless population for federal requirements.