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Advocate: Drop in Homeless Count Shows Progress But Needs Remain

A one-night count of Montgomery County's homeless population shows a drop of more than 100. But, more families are doubling up to share housing.

A one night count of Montgomery County's homeless population shows a drop of more than 100. File|Patch
A one night count of Montgomery County's homeless population shows a drop of more than 100. File|Patch

From a news release:

A snapshot census indicates there are 891 homeless people in Montgomery County, a drop from the 2013 count of 1,004 homeless people, according to a news release from Interfaith Works.

The non-profit’s interim executive director, Priscilla Fox-Morrill, said she is encouraged by the just-released results of the “point in time” survey conducted by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments in January 2014.

“We are making good progress in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in our area, which typically is known for affluence,” Fox-Morrill said.

She said the decrease can be attributed to a number of positive developments, including an expansion in permanent supportive housing available to homeless individuals. 

Interfaith Works, based in Rockville, is a leading nonprofit in Montgomery County providing permanent supportive housing, along with an array of services to help bring stability to the economically fragile.

“Overall, the survey numbers are encouraging,” Fox-Morrill said, “but even just a single homeless person is one too many. Everyone deserves the safety and security of a place to live.”

She praised Interfaith Works’ Montgomery County partners, including the County Executive, County Council, Department of Health and Human Services, and the 100,000 HOMES Campaign, for their support of efforts to provide a hand up to those in economic crisis.

Fox-Morrill noted the survey numbers provide important data that will help inform and guide the work done by Interfaith Works and other agencies. But she also said that poverty and homelessness are complex issues, and other influences on the census results should be taken into account, including the fact that this winter was one of the harshest in recent memory.

Since the census is completed on a single night in January, the picture it paints may be somewhat limited. Homeless individuals who can “couch surf” – move from home to home relying on friends and family – may have come in out of the severe cold temporarily, and thus may not have been counted.

In addition, the Council of Government’s report noted the high cost of living in the area is forcing some families to “double up” – cram into housing meant for a single family.

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