Hundreds of volunteers joined members of Montgomery County’s nonprofit community in the early morning hours during Nov. 4-6 to assist in the County’s first-ever “Registry Week” that is a key element of the 100,000 Homes Campaign. The campaign seeks to reach out to the chronically homeless, especially those who are medically vulnerable, to assess their needs and try to get them to accept the variety of housing opportunities that are available to them.
During Registry Week, about 300 volunteers spread out throughout the County from 4-7 a.m. on each of the three days to survey homeless individuals who are living in streets, parks and other areas. By assessing the reasons that they have attributed for refusing housing options, the County can better formulate attempts to get them to accept housing.
Members of the Montgomery County Council, County Executive Isiah Leggett and representatives of the County-wide non-profit community worked for several months in urging residents to volunteer for Registry Week. The survey of the homeless is part of the commitment Montgomery County has made in joining more than 200 communities nationwide in the 100,000 Homes Campaign.
The local campaign is a joint effort that includes Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services and many other government agencies, nonprofits and organizations. This is the first time Montgomery County has assembled an organized effort to participate in the 100,000 Homes Campaign.
The public is invited to attend a community/media debriefing on the outcome and results learned during Registry Week. The debriefing will take place at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at the Council Office Building (COB) at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. At the event, formerly homeless individuals will share their stories. Other speakers will talk about how the 100,000 Homes Campaign is changing lives, the reality that people living on the street die 25 years prematurely than the rest of society and how permanent housing is more cost effective than hospital, jail and shelter recidivism.
It is intended for the survey data to be utilized quickly and efficiently to move the County’s most vulnerable chronically homeless neighbors into permanent housing with supportive services.
Earlier this year, the County participated in the 2013 Point-in-Time Count of Homeless Persons in the Metropolitan Washington Region in which volunteers attempted to count and survey as many homeless people as possible in a one-day event. That count found that, on one given day, 1,007 individuals experienced homelessness in Montgomery County, and that 222 of these individuals were chronically homeless.
“The 100,000 Homes campaign has worked in other areas of the nation and Montgomery County has been studying the most successful practices used,” said County Councilmember George Leventhal, who chairs the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee, serves on the Executive Committee of the Montgomery County 100,000 Homes Campaign and urged the Council to fund the program. “We are fortunate in our County. If we can identify the most medically vulnerable homeless people in our County who can be helped, we have the resources to help them. Not all jurisdictions are in that position. Taking this survey is crucial to the success of this effective program.”
County Council Vice 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 Vice 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.”
County Executive Leggett said: “Helping those most vulnerable in our community is extremely important. This campaign will help us identify those at greatest need so we can help move them into permanent housing.”
This past summer, the local Campaign reported 64 of the most vulnerable people were housed since the County joined the 100,000 Homes Campaign, helping push the national campaign to over 50,000 housing placements. Currently the national 100,000 Homes Campaign has housed over 70,000 homeless individuals.
“The Campaign has been preparing for this monumental moment when we will join together as a community to not only assesses homeless individuals’ needs towards effectively housing them, but we will also know them each by name,” says MCCH Executive Director Susie Sinclair-Smith.
For more information on the Montgomery County 100,000 Homes Campaign, contact Homes Campaign Manager Herb Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-917-6648.
More information on reducing homelessness also is available at: http://www.mcch.net/endhomelessness/homescampaign.html