Homelessness Summit (VIDEO)
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker joined forces at the Regional Summit on Homelessness in mid March. The event was organized by area leadership as a call to action to funders, developers, banks, employers, landlords, service providers, schools, institutes of higher learning, and community members to join in the work to end homelessness.
The Summit was held at Community Vision at Progress Place, a facility in Montgomery County, Maryland that provides services for persons experiencing homelessness, and commenced with remarks from the leaders of each of the three regions.
“Montgomery County has committed enormous resources to providing shelter, lending a helping hand to the homeless, and working to create and preserve affordable housing in the County,” said Leggett. “That has resulted in decreases in homelessness over the last several years, both among families and single homeless individuals. No one, however, can rest on their laurels in this area. This year’s ‘Point in Time’ survey will show an uptick in homelessness in the County. Clearly, even with using best practices, there is no easy answer.
“That’s why we need to develop and implement a plan for transformation of our local efforts to include our partners in the region. That’s why it is so important that Montgomery, Prince George’s and the District are coming together here today to commit ourselves to regional coordination and collaboration to reduce and end homelessness in our respective jurisdictions.”
“We all know that we are going to have to be proactive to solve this issue. Our response cannot be limited to sheltering people today. If we are ever going to get ahead of this issue, we must go further to truly address the root causes of housing instability,” said Bowser.
“Every one of us standing in this room plays a critical role. And for that reason, we are eager to be kicking off this long overdue regional collaboration between the District, Montgomery County, Prince Georges County – and all of you,” she continued.
“Homelessness is a growing problem in our region that will require us to use our collective energy to reduce the number of people and families in the Washington Metropolitan Region who have no permanent place to call home,” said Baker. “Partnering and consolidating our resources will allow all of us to help more people who are on the cusp of homelessness. We want to take a holistic approach to help people avoid this tragedy by providing wrap around services as well as shelter and stability focused programs.”
The three leaders, Leggett, Bowser and Baker, each signed Charters confirming their commitment to work together to eliminate homelessness in the Metropolitan area; to establish a high-level regional coordinating council on homelessness; to develop and implement an actionable plan to permanently end homelessness in the region, particularly chronic homelessness; and set timeframes. Regional leaders have committed to collaborating in four key areas:
• affordable housing
• workforce development
• economic development
• supportive services
Each offers opportunities for sharing of data and best practices, regional planning and development, collaborative client focused system of services and joint funding and fundraising.
Homelessness is largely related to the lack of access to affordable housing, a trained workforce with jobs that pay a living wage, and sustainable support networks. The DC Metropolitan area is one of the least affordable in the country. Local leaders said the summit will help pave the way to leverage and target resources around common issues facing all three jurisdictions.
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