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Reaching Out to Help the Homeless

Volunteers needed as Montgomery County and City of Gaithersburg co-host the 2nd Annual Homeless Resource Day on Nov. 15.

 

For the second year, hundreds of homeless people will be able to tap into Montgomery County’s gamut of health, housing and financial services all in one day and one place.

Montgomery County and the City of Gaithersburg will co-host a “Homeless Resource Day” on Nov. 15 at the Activity Center at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg. More than 30 organizations will be on-hand from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to offer information and free resources for homeless individuals and families, including:

  • health, dental and vision screenings
  • housing assistance
  • shelter resources
  • legal services
  • financial counseling
  • Motor Vehicle Administration IDs
  • veterans benefits
  • employment services
  • tax assistance
  • substance abuse
  • mental health counseling

Montgomery County does not have data on the number of homeless people living in Montgomery County, said Mary Anderson, a county spokeswoman. The only available metric is the annual “point in time” survey by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, in which researchers pick one day per year to count the number of homeless people in communities across the D.C. region.

This year, the number of homeless in Montgomery County fell 13 percent, the first significant decrease in five years:

2008 - 1,104 homeless people

2009 - 1,194

2010 - 1,064

2011 - 1,132

2012 - 982

Officials attribute the decline to the county’s shift to make housing the top priority.

“We’ve done a lot to increase our stock of permanent supported housing units,” Anderson said. “We think one of the reasons our numbers have come down is that we have moved toward the model of housing first. We’re trying to get more and more people into permanent supported housing. The literature has shown—and experience has shown all around the country—if you can get a person a stable roof over their head, it is much easier for them to work on their other issues.”

Here’s how Montgomery County compares with nearby jurisdictions:

Prince George’s County - 641 homeless

Arlington County - 451

Fairfax County - 1,534

Washington, D.C. - 6,954

The inaugural Homeless Resources Day drew more than 300 people in search of help.

“We felt like it was a success last year and I think we’re looking to mirror that last year and see if we can increase the number of folks coming to avail themselves of services,” Anderson said.

Volunteers are needed as greeters, guides and to help with set up, registration and parking.

Click here or call Gloria Huggins at 240-777-4565 to register as a volunteer.

And click here for more information on the Nov. 15 event.

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