Bath group to count city's homeless Jan. 28

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BATH — Last’s year’s inaugural count of the number of homeless people in the city found 15 people without homes or facing loss of shelter.

Not letting up on the effort to get a roof over everyone’s head, particularly during the coldest time of the year, volunteers with the Bath Homelessness Collaborative (formerly the Greater Bath Homeless Initiative) will participate a second time Wednesday, Jan. 28, in an annual “point-in-time” count.

The count is run by the state’s Continuum of Care, a network of service providers collaboratively creating programs to combat homelessness.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development uses the count – done across the country on what is dubbed “the coldest night of the year” – as a way to plan and distribute funds to each state, according to a Bath Homelessness Collaborative press release.

Because Bath did not participate in the count before last year, it was unable to receive funds geared toward meeting homeless needs. Conducting the count in 2014, according to the collaborative, gave the city access to services such as Projects for Assistance in Transition From Homelessness, or PATH, and others focused on community needs.

In interviews last year, volunteers spoke with people like a respondent identified as “Matthew,” who “has a full-time job, an apartment, and ‘cheerfully’ pays child support because ‘he loves his kids,'” the group said. “But Matthew is about to be evicted because he is too far behind in his rent.”

Housing subsidies were unavailable to him, since demand for housing choice vouchers exceeded supply, Bath Housing Director Debora Keller said.

Volunteers will hold this year’s count at several locations Jan. 28: the Community Room of Patten Free Library on Summer Street from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Soup Kitchen at the Baptist Church on Elm Street from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the administrative office of the Bath Housing Authority on Centre Street from noon to 4 p.m.

Volunteers, who will also reach out that day to people on the streets, will additionally be at the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Project on Union Street in Brunswick from 12:30-4 p.m.

“It is hoped that those who are homeless will seek out the volunteers and will participate in the survey so that the state will be able to provide Bath with the resources its homeless population needs,” the collaborative said.

To participate in conducting the survey, call Betty King at 208-7860. Volunteer training will be held at the Bath Housing Authority administrative office Friday, Jan. 23.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.