County Reaches Out to Homeless As Temperatures Drop

As temperatures drop to the single digits, workers with the Montgomery County Health and Human Services are hitting the streets to bring homeless individuals indoors.

Montgomery County’s four homeless outreach programs are increasing efforts to educate homeless on the dangers of the cold weather.

“Our outreach teams are meeting with clients and encouraging them to go to a shelter,” said Kim Ball, an administrator with the Montgomery County Health and Human Services. “County Police will be provided a list of known homeless encampments and if they encounter homeless persons, they will also be encouraging them to go to shelters,” she said.

Bethesda Cares, a County outreach program for the homeless, has come across homeless individuals on the streets who refuse to go to shelters.

John Mendez, an outreach coordinator with Bethesda Cares, said they’re putting priority on educating those who may not know the dangers of the approaching cold front.

“We’re distributing information about the extreme cold temperatures that are coming into the area and meeting with clients one on one drop in center and on the street,” Mendez said. “There’s a little extra ‘oomph’ about what we’re doing today because the temperatures are so dangerous and there’s a significant risk of death for those outside overnight.”

Homeless man in coldThe County year round shelters are full, but there is still room at the winter overflow shelters.

Non-profit House of Divine Guidance has agreed to provide homeless women overflow shelter until Jan. 10.

“The County’s Continuum of Care emergency and transitional shelters will allow clients to remain indoors during extreme weather and we open Interfaith Works Community Visions all day and if necessary on the weekends as we did on Jan. 4th,” Ball said.

County workers said many of the homeless are at an increased risk of the dangerous temperatures, something they need help communicating to those on the streets.

“A lot of our clients are already dealing with medical vulnerabilities and disabilities while they’re experiencing homelessness on the street,” Mendez said. “We always need the public to communicate with us to let us know where they are. We continue to hand out extra blankets, extra socks and do demonstrations on how to use emergency blankets.”

For more information on the County’s overflow shelters, visit their website here.

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Valerie Bonk

About Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk is a multimedia reporter and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media (MCM).


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