Harford homeless numbers to be released this week

The numbers are still being tallied, but Harford County had another successful Homeless Count this year, county community services director Beth Hendrix reported.

Nonprofit groups and other volunteers scoured the county Thursday for the annual event, in an attempt to get an accurate measure of the number of homeless people out there.

Hendrix said Monday the final numbers would be released by the end of the week and she did not want to disclose data in advance because it might not be correct.

Nevertheless, she said, "it went really well, and the good news is that it was such a cold night out there that we were really able to know who was out there."

Hendrix said homeless residents took advantage of the county's freezing weather plans, which allowed them to stay in facilities like county libraries or area motels for the freezing days.

"A lot of folks availed themselves of that," she said.

In previous years, the homeless count has been more difficult, she said.

"It's often harder when the weather is warmer," she said.

The volunteer participation "went the same as always. It's a well-run group."

Hendrix said she did not anticipate major changes in the count, and did not see a "huge increase" in the number of homeless people.

She added that staff members regularly go out to check on the homeless anyway.

"Harford County, as a community, is really good at knowing where homeless encampments are," she said. "This is just more of a concerted approach."

Susan Graper, manager of Riverside's Welcome One Emergency Shelter, said she had 29 residents stay during the night of the count.

Her shelter is the only full-service emergency homeless shelter in Harford, and only has room for 31 people. A couple of beds for men were still available that night, she said.

"Usually we stay full all year long, hot or cold," Graper said.

The homeless count involved teams of four to five people who targeted Bel Air, Edgewood, Havre de Grace and Aberdeen, she said.

Last year, the Community Services department counted 204 homeless people, a slight decrease from 243 in 2011.

The totals included children and adults.

The county had 221 homeless in 2010.

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