Some Buckhannon residents ask for homeless shelter in the area

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BUCKHANNON, W. Va. (WDTV) - Homelessness has been described as an ongoing problem in the U.S.

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 552,830 Americans are experiencing homelessness. In West Virginia,. that number stands at 1,243.

"They get trapped in that poverty of homelessness," said Matthew Kerner, Executive Director of Opportunity House and board member of the homeless and housing coalition. "We all think it's a middle aged male who is alone, but that's not always the case, the average homeless person in the United States right now is 9-years-old."

While the Department of Housing and Urban Development says fewer West Virginians experienced homelessness in 2018, compared to the previous year, it's still a problem.

In Buckhannon, a homeless and housing coalition is trying to reduce those numbers.

"Our goal ultimately is to be able to create some sort of facility where we can handle emergency housing for homeless people," said Kerner.

Just like Kerner, other residents, who didn't want to go on camera, said it’s what the area needs.

"I've done the [HUD] Point in Time counts, which is annual count of homeless people for a number of years, we usually end up with eight to 13 people that we find that are literally homeless," he said.

But he says those numbers are counted late January and tend to increase during the summertime. He says most of those people he's met without homes have full time jobs, but aren't able to make ends meet.

"Sometimes the homeless population gets marginalized.," he said.

Mayor David McCauley in a statement to 5 News said:

"We are continuing to investigate this serious issue while expanding the support base among governmental, educational, religious, and other non-profit players. Naturally this is a problem that tugs on the heart-strings and one that commands our attention as a community. Like so many things, this will require investment of community time, energy, and resources."