Homeless Memorial in Rockville Honors Lives Lost in County Last Year

Montgomery County leaders remembered the 60 homeless individuals who passed away in the county last year at a community memorial in Rockville on Wednesday. 

All the individuals honored were served by the county’s homeless continuum of care and most passed away with “dignity” in their own housing, according to officials. 

Nonprofit providers read all the names of those individuals they once served. They also shared a brief description of who they were. 

“Michael Folsom,” a nonprofit provider read as she held back tears. “He was a writer. He was a poet. He was smart, charismatic. He pushed through really tough times. Michael was an amazing person to all who knew him.” 

“Blanca Reyes,” another nonprofit provider read as she took a deep breath. “Blanca escaped violence and poverty in El Salvador, where she learned to cope with her pain with the most exceptional sense of humor. She made new friends everywhere she went. Blanca leaves behind her children and family in El Salvador, but also her community at Progress Place— where so many of us viewed her as a mother figure, including me.” 

In between the reading of names, individuals who have experienced homelessness shared their stories of resilience. 

Tamara Sofer said she experienced homelessness on and off throughout her life. However, last year was different. “I lost my job and it was a downward spiral from there. We never experienced what we experienced last year,” Sofer added that while being sheltered in hotels, her biggest fear alongside her husband was the possibility of ending “literally on the street” with their kids. 

Approximately 581 individuals are experiencing homelessness in the county, according to a recent Point-in-Time survey published by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

“We want to bring that number back to zero and there remains a lot of work to be done to get back on that path. COVID knocked us out of that path for a while, but we are going back in that direction,” County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Raymond Crowel said. 

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