Volunteers will be scouring four counties this Wednesday night to tally the area’s homeless population.
The point-in-time count is conducted by a coalition of groups called Northern Wisconsin Initiative to Stop Homelessness, including Oneida County UW Extension and Forward Service Corporation. It covers Forest, Langlade, Oneida and Vilas Counties.
Coordinator Lori Hallas explains the count is an important tool to measure the homeless population.
“It’s a statewide effort to go out into local areas find out if there are people who are living on the streets, whether it be in a 24 hour store, in a tent, campgrounds, anything like that.”
Hallas explains the group also counts the totals in local shelters like Frederick Place in Rhinelander and New Hope shelter in Crandon. It also includes people using hotel vouchers or in other transitional housing. Hallas says it’s rare to find anyone on the streets this time of year in subzero temperatures, but that doesn’t make the count any less important.
“We do have a homeless problem. Our shelters are at capacity a majority of the time. On the streets, in January - just because we aren’t finding someone doesn’t mean they don’t exist.”
Hallas says organizers look for input from community members who may know where a person could be staying without a permanent home.
The homeless point in time count happens every year in January and June.