Montgomery County Council Press Releases & Statements
Montgomery’s 100,000 Homes Campaign Takes Active Role in Helping County’s Most Vulnerable Homeless in Frigid Weather
| ROCKVILLE, Md., January 8, 2014—Arctic-like weather can be deadly to vulnerable homeless people living outside. The Montgomery County 100,000 Homes Campaign, which is committed to try and place the County’s most vulnerable homeless in permanent housing while also helping with more immediate needs, is working to ensure that no one dies homeless and has been active since frigid weather started to hover over the East Coast over the past week.
The 100,000 Homes Campaign is a partnership that includes the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH), the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda Cares, People Encouraging People and many other government agencies, nonprofits, and organizations. In December, the Montgomery County Council approved a Fiscal Year 2014 special appropriation of more than $640,000 to provide permanent housing with supportive services for homeless individuals who are identified as the most vulnerable. The initiative was also supported by the County Executive.
Montgomery County has four street outreach programs that work to engage homeless individuals in shelter and essential services. They include People Encouraging People Homeless Outreach, Bethesda Cares, Interfaith Works Community Vision and the City of Gaithersburg. The outreach staff regularly talk to people living outside with the goal of getting to know everyone by name and getting them into safe, warm housing.
Outreach providers gave the Montgomery County Police a list of known homeless encampments and the police have been checking the welfare of homeless individuals and encouraging them to take refuge in homeless shelters. The Washington area experienced some of its coldest weather in decades over the past week.
Local emergency and transitional shelters allow clients to remain indoors during the day in dangerous weather. Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless operates the Home Builders Care Assessment Center (HBCAC) men’s emergency 24-hour shelter and no one is turned away in the cold “winter season.” Interfaith Works runs the Montgomery Avenue Women’s Center for homeless women. Interfaith Works Community Vision, a day program for homeless individuals, operates all day, and if necessary, on weekends.
One emergency shelter reported a significant increase in individuals seeking shelter that likely can be attributed to the cold. On Monday, Jan. 6, it reported 160 men seeking shelter for the night compared to 145 seeking shelter on Dec. 30—before the arctic air settled over the area. On Jan. 6, four shelters located in Montgomery County (HBCAC men’s emergency shelter, Rainbow Place, Community Vision overflow shelter and Montgomery Avenue Women’s Assessment Center) reported a total of 321 individuals seeking shelter, compared to 302 on Jan. 5.
County Council President Craig Rice said the County must take steps to help solve a continuing problem.
“This County has done many things over the years to help address our homeless population,” said Council President Rice. “The 100,000 HOMES Campaign targets a special segment of this population—a population that has been difficult to reach. Through this program, and the steps that are being put in place, we now have a better chance of letting them tell us their needs and then directly working to finding housing for these most vulnerable people.”
Councilmember George Leventhal, who chairs the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee, said, “From the beginning of the Montgomery County 100,000 Homes Campaign, our goal was to house homeless individuals who are the most medically vulnerable.”
“Montgomery County is committed to meeting the needs of all those men, women and families in need of shelter,” said County Executive Ike Leggett. “No one should suffer for lack of a roof over their heads. I’m proud to support the 100,000 HOMES campaign.”
Outreach workers report that there are always certain homeless who refuse to go into shelters. Sometimes it is the result of mental illness and other issues. Workers in the partnership attempt to build relationships and meet with people one-on-one to share information about the extreme cold temperatures and connect them with available shelter resources. They also hand out supplies such as blankets and hand warmers/
People in need of emergency shelter in Montgomery County are encouraged to call the crisis center at 240-777-4000 for assistance. MCCH provides “street cards” which list helpful resources available for those experiencing homelessness or who are in need of assistance in the County. Volunteers interested in helping with the efforts can contact MCCH at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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