Councilmember Leventhal Participates in Annual Homeless Count
In January I participated in the annual count of the homeless population in Montgomery County. The federally-mandated count gathers information to be part of the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) prepared by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and delivered to Congress. The report focuses on the extent and nature of homelessness in America. The count must be done on a single night during the last 10 days of January.
Because the count must be completed in a single night, volunteers are normally under a time crunch to complete the count and are unable to engage with homeless indviduals for more than a minute or two. In the future though, I hope the county will do more than merely acknowleding the homeless during the survey and will work to assess the needs of the homeless and connect them to relevant services. The count is an important tool in measuring how effective our homeless prevention efforts have been, but it's also an opportunity to intercede in the lives of those who are stuggling with addiction, mental health issues, and other causes of homelessness.
As Chair of the County Council's Health and Human Services Committee, reducing homelessness continues to be one of my top priorities. The County's Housing First program that I co-founded has provided permanent, stable housing to 1,854 county residents since 2009.