Grey County has completed its first study to better quantify homelessness in the area.
Director of Housing Anne Marie Shaw shared the results of a homelessness enumeration conducted in April to county councillors at Thursday's meeting.
The county performed a count through a number of service organizations likely to be used by homeless people such as community meal programs, drop-in centres and emergency shelters.
Shaw says the survey period was from April 23-27 and evaluators chose the end of the month as it's when homeless people tend to use more services.
The survey identified 33 people experiencing homelessness in the area, although Shaw cautions it is not a fulsome number and the actual amount is higher.
"I don't know if there is a method of enumeration that would work to count absolutely every individual, especially over such a large area as Grey County," Shaw says. "One person experiencing homelessness is too many.
"I think the fact we know that we have 33 and know there's more just tells us we do need the services we have, and that we need to continue to look at them and grow them."
Of the homeless identified in the study, 29 chose to take part in a survey to help generate data for Grey County.
The study found that none of those identified as homeless in Grey County were living on the streets. They were living at motels, with friends, in hospitals or at women's shelters.
Other key data highlighted in Shaw's report include:
-52% of the homeless lived in Grey County for more than six months
-10% were Bruce County residents
-28% were from out of Grey County
-49% were homeless an average of 4.6 months
-24% reported to be homeless for less than 30 days
-10% reported to be homeless for more than one year
-17% did not know how long or did not respond
-12% of respondents met the provincial definition of chronic homelessness
-Average age of respondents was 39
-Four people were ages 18 and under
-41% of respondents identified as female
Shaw says the data from the surveys will help the county plan for services and identify needs and gaps in delivering them.
"We also have a review coming up of our 10-year housing and homelessness plan," she says. "So this information will help guide us over the next five years of where to put some of those supports and resources."
Shaw says the province has a goal of ending chronic homelessness, someone who might be experiencing homelessness for more than six months out of the year, as part of the long-term affordable housing strategy.
According to Shaw's report, provincial guidelines do not provide measures to determine an estimate of homelessness in the area based on results, but they do show homelessness does exist in Grey County.