New Survey Shows Decrease in Montgomery County Homeless
The overall number of persons experiencing homelessness in Montgomery County has decreased by 11.25 percent, as reported in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s 2014 point in time survey, released today at COG’s board meeting.
Conducted annually in jurisdictions throughout the region, the survey was conducted on January 29. On the night of the count, there were 891 persons who were homeless in Montgomery County, as compared with 1,004 persons counted in 2013.
“I am pleased that our efforts to enhance services to the homeless and to move individuals and families into permanent housing is paying off,” said County Executive Isiah Leggett. “While our work is far from complete, I want to acknowledge the efforts of our County programs and our non-profit partners who work every day of the year to reduce homelessness in our community.”
The overall decrease in homelessness is attributed to several factors, including an increase in permanent supportive housing and additional units created via the Housing Initiative Program (HIP) medical component and the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (VASH). The number of unsheltered individuals decreased by approximately one-third (34%) from 143 in 2013 to 95 in 2014.
“This is the lowest number of homeless persons counted in Montgomery County since we began counting our homeless population,” said Councilmember George Leventhal, chair of the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee. “It is great to know that our efforts to reduce the number of people living under conditions of misery are paying off with measurable results. We need to continue placing homeless clients in permanent, stable housing. That’s the most effective way to keep bringing our homelessness rate down and to assist clients to repair their broken lives.”
Households without children experienced a five percent reduction from 638 in 2013 to 603 in 2014. There was a 22 percent decrease in the overall number of homeless households with children, from 117 households in 2013 to 91 households in 2014.
The adoption of a Housing First model, increased prevention efforts and efforts to house the most vulnerable homeless individuals through the County’s participation in the national 100,000 Homes Campaign are among the reasons cited for the decrease.
The County’s Homeless Continuum of Care (CoC) is a public-private partnership that includes state and local government agencies, non-profit service providers, landlords and other stakeholders who have a role in preventing and ending homelessness.
Led by the County’s Department of Health and Human Services, the CoC works to provide a continuum of housing services to homeless individuals, including outreach and engagement, emergency and transitional shelter, rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing.
Case management is provided with an emphasis on removing housing barriers and connecting homeless individuals with housing, employment, disability entitlements and other behavioral health services. The continuum also utilizes a range of prevention initiatives, including emergency financial assistance, rent subsidies and energy assistance to prevent the loss of permanent housing.