Campaign Against Homelessness Needs Volunteers (Video)
Members of the Montgomery County Council are urging residents to volunteer during the week of Nov. 3 – 8 as Montgomery County joins more than 200 communities nationwide in 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.
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.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the Montgomery County 100,000 Homes Campaign or registry week can contact Homes Campaign Manager Herb Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301.917.6648.
The work of the 100,000 Homes Campaign is driven by multiple studies demonstrating that homeless individuals are three to four times more likely to die prematurely than the general population, resulting in average lifespan 25 years shorter than that of the average American.
The 2013 Point-in-Time Count of Homeless Persons in the Metropolitan Washington Region found on one given day that 1,007 individuals experienced homelessness in Montgomery County, and that 222 of these individuals were chronically homeless.
A critical part of the Campaign is Registry Week (Nov. 3–8). During this week 300 volunteers, who will receive advance training, will spread out throughout the County 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.
Other volunteer activities concerning the Campaign will include recognition of Montgomery County’s 27th Annual Community Service Week of Oct. 20 – 27.
One important volunteer project during Community Service Week will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless’ (MCCH) permanent housing program’s Seneca Heights Apartments in Gaithersburg. Formerly homeless clients residing at Seneca Heights, along with Campaign volunteers, will assemble move-in kits for homeless individuals that were surveyed during Registry Week who have agreed to move into permanent housing. The kits will include donated household items, linens, toiletries and first aid materials.
“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.”
The 100,000 Homes Campaign will build on the progress that Montgomery County has made since adopting its Housing First model in 2008. The number of formerly homeless individuals residing in permanent supportive housing has increased to 641 in 2013, representing a 140 percent increase since 2008. Over the past year, the County expanded the Housing Initiative Program (HIP) with 25 deep subsidies to serve medically vulnerable individuals. The County recently received an additional 15 VASH (Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing) vouchers, bringing to 80 the number of vouchers received over the past four years.
More information on reducing homelessness also is available at: Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless, 100,000 End Homelessness Campaign