Tomblin Revives Homeless Council

CHARLESTON (AP) – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has revived a state council tasked with ending homelessness in West Virginia, saying a recent study shows 3,000 residents are homeless on any given night.

Tomblin issued an executive order Wednesday transferring the Interagency Council on Homelessness from the Office of Economic Opportunity to the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities.

Former Gov. Joe Manchin created the council in 2007. The council had been inactive for several years.

Tomblin said the council will serve as a planning and policy development resource. Its duties include developing and implementing a plan to prevent and end homelessness.

“Ending homelessness requires a collaboration among state agencies, local governments, the private sector and service provider networks to coordinate program development, deliver essential services and provide housing,” Tomblin said Wednesday in a press release. “I am confident the council’s collaboration with these groups will help reduce homelessness – improving the overall quality of life within our communities.”

The council also is tasked with identifying and maximizing resources to improve services for homeless people or those who are at risk of becoming homeless.

Forty-five percent of homeless West Virginians are families, according to the study by the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness. Fifteen percent are veterans and 18 percent are chronically homeless.

The eight-member council will be led by the bureau’s commissioner or a designee. Other members include the governor, the Bureau for Children and Families commissioner, the Department of Veterans’ Assistance secretary, the state schools superintendent, the West Virginia Housing Development Fund executive director, The Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety secretary or their designees, and a representative from the Office of Economic Opportunity.

A work group will be formed to assist the council.