An annual count found 233 homeless people in Harford County last month, a significant increase from a year earlier and the highest number of homeless people counted in the county since January 2011.
The most recent count was performed Jan. 29 by local homeless service providers, community volunteers, local police agencies and county government agencies that provide services to the homeless. Results were released late last week.
The survey found that 106 adults and 87 children were sheltered and receiving comprehensive support services on the night of the count, according to a news release from the Harford County Department of Community Services.
Another 24 single adults were temporarily placed in motels through DSS and the Office on Mental Health because of an expanded Freezing Weather Policy, triggered by extreme weather conditions, the release notes. Street Outreach Teams found six single adults living outside.
Last January, 166 people were found to be homeless in the annual point-in-time count, community services officials said during a vigil this past fall to remember those who died homeless in the county. Of this total, 61 percent were women.
Weather conditions in Harford County in late January 2013 were considerably milder than in January 2014.
There were 178 people in Harford counted as homeless in 2012, 243 in 2011 and 221 in 2010, according to previously released figures.
During last month's point-in-time count, donated hats, gloves, coats, blankets, personal care items, food, and bus vouchers were distributed to the homeless people who were encountered, Harford Community Services said.
The remaining donations were shared with community shelter providers, Anna's House, Alliance, Inc., Harford Family House and Homecoming Project, Inc.
The community services officials and volunteers who conducted the county were provided escorts from the Harford County Sheriff's Office, the Havre de Grace Police Department, the Aberdeen Police Department, and the Bel Air Police Department.
According to Harford Community Services officials, the annual countywide homeless canvass aids county government in securing the federal, state, and local funding necessary to serve this vulnerable population and may assist in gaining expansion grants.
"The data collected during the annual homeless count also allows the community to strategically plan for the future needs of citizens," the Community Services release states.
Harford County has 13 emergency, transitional and permanent supportive shelters, offering a total of 228 beds for homeless adults, children, and families.
In fiscal year 2013, Harford County provided 90 families, including 597 people, with 37,852 emergency shelter or transitional housing bed nights, for an average stay of 63 nights per person, Community Services officials said.
To learn more about homeless services in Harford County, visit http://www.harfordcountymd.gov or call the Department of Community Services at 410-638-3389.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun