The director of WV Kids Count said the rising number of homeless youths in West Virginia – estimated at more than 10,000 – has both alarmed and inspired her to be part of the solution.

“Family homelessness is exploding because the demographics of the family have changed,” Tricia Kingery, executive director of the group, said Tuesday in a news release.

“Poverty, grandparents raising grandchildren, the opioid epidemic, lack of affordable housing and living through a pandemic are some of the factors that impact homelessness.”

There is 131 children in Calhoun considered homeless.

Citing figures from the West Virginia Department of Education, Kids Count said there were as many as 10,417 youth experiencing homelessness during the 2019-2020 school year.

On Monday, WV Kids Count released an issue brief on the rising numbers of children and youth experiencing homelessness across West Virginia. The brief defined youth homelessness and its surrounding issues provided by the West Virginia Department of Education and identified resources available in the education and community-based sectors within the state.

More than $500,000 in grants were awarded by the West Virginia Department of Education to 14 counties to support a variety of needs and services for youth who are homeless. There are also grants that counties can apply for ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 to supply resources and support to enrolled youth experiencing homelessness.

Kids Count said there are programs and resources available on a community-based level, but improving community engagement will be important with the rising numbers in youth homelessness.

WV KIDS COUNT Homelessness In Region:

Calhoun - 131
Ritchie - 116
Wirt - 137
Roane - 212
Clay - 633
Gilmer - 15