TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — 531 is the total number of individuals classified as homeless in Vigo County, according to a survey conducted by the Homeless Council of the Wabash Valley. An increase of 164 people from the previous year.

According to Vigo County Commissioner and Co-Chair of the Wabash Valley, Brendan Kearns, a contributing reason for the increase is due to more people coming to the area for available resources.

“We did notice during our last outreach/homeless count a lot of new people. In previous years, it was a lot of the regulars, but now we’re seeing a lot of new faces from Indianapolis and other areas,” He said. ” We provide a lot of resources here which brings people here.”

Local homeless counts are conducted twice a year, once in the summer and the other done federally in January. Kearns said more people are out on the streets during the warmer temperatures thus giving a more accurate count.

Of the 531 people, 381 are classified as sheltered meaning they were staying in transitional housing. The other 140 individuals were living in non-habitable conditions or, unsheltered.

During the outreach phase, individuals in need are surveyed to identify specific needs to get proper help. Mental and substance abuse issues were at the forefront. Those in need received personal hygiene items provided by Mental Health America, bug spray and self-care/harm reduction kits provided by the Vigo County Health Department and IU Health-Positive Link.

“People just need number one, need somebody to help them. A lot of times they find themselves in situations where they are not able to get the help they need,” Kearns stated.

Over on South 15th Street sits Reach Services’ new Pathways Day Center. It opened in June serving as a centralized resource hub for the homeless.

Veterans Services Manager, John Burk, said the center is serving 10-15 people a day. As of August of this year, Reach Services has housed 700 adults and children.

“We’re helping in the community, but that number is too high. We need to help them become financially stable,” He said.

Over 400 people are on a waitlist for housing.

Anyone wanting to help can do so in numerous ways, volunteering or donating everyday items. As we head into the winter, warm clothes are also being accepted.

“The fact that the numbers have gone so high and there are so many people in our community that have a need, it’s alarming. That’s a problem,” Burk said.

PRESS RELEASE FROM Homeless Council of the Wabash Valley,

A community survey was conducted on July 27, 2022 within Vigo County to assess the “homeless situation”.  This count is different than the Federal “Point in Time” count held in late January.  We do this count to illustrate the issue during the summer, and when we may be able to find more of our homeless who are “on the streets”

Volunteers with the Homeless Council of the Wabash Valley visited strategic locations for the count and made calls to shelters, hotels and transitional homes.  Homeless were interviewed with a short survey to assess their needs.  Needs were identified and addressed.

Personal hygiene items provided by Mental Health America, bug spray and self care/harm reduction kits provided by the Vigo County Health Department and IU Health-Positive Link. Other help items were distributed as needed.

Volunteers assessed the needs of the Homeless, with a goal of providing services and information to help them get out of their current situation.

The results of the informal assessment are as follows:

Sheltered:  391             (318-2021 data)
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:   140   (49-2021 data)
People who are living on the street or in non-habitable conditions (abandoned homes, structures, tents, vehicles).  Numbers were gained through one-on-one interactions.

The approximate total of individuals accounted for as being “homele
ss” on Wednesday July 27, 2022 within Vigo County is 531.

Our Count in 2021 (July) had a total number of 367 homeless.
Our count in 2019 (July 19, 2019) had a total of 566 homeless