Five years into a plan to end homelessness in Berrien County, many people are still without a permanent place to live.
But over that period, a coalition of more than 50 agencies and nonprofit organizations working as the Housing Resource Network of Southwest Michigan made important strides to help people who are on the street or in danger of losing their homes.
The gains were made despite a struggling economy, HRN official Alysia Babcock said during a progress review Wednesday at First Church of God, but a lot of work remains to be done.
A point-in-time count of the homeless in Berrien County in January tallied 594 people. The number included 363 children, 65 disabled people, 25 who had been subjected to domestic violence and 15 veterans.
Babcock, executive director of Emergency Shelter Services in Benton Harbor, presented data showing that homeless children were found in all K-12 school districts in the county.
"That was an eye-opener for us," Babcock told the group of people representing agencies, nonprofits and religious groups that joined to combat homelessness. "These numbers, I think, are pretty shocking."
The count, done at one point of time around the country, may have overlooked some homeless people in Berrien because the winter cold weather drives many into any available building.