May 15, 2014, Rockville, MD — Interfaith Works 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. The “snapshot” census counted 891 persons experiencing homelessness in Montgomery County, Md., a drop from the 2013 count of 1,004 people.
“We are making good progress in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in our area, which typically is known for affluence,” Fox-Morrill stated. She noted the decrease can be attributed to a number of positive developments, including an expansion in permanent supportive housing available to homeless individuals. Interfaith Works is a leading nonprofit in Montgomery County providing permanent supportive housing along with a wide 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 observed 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 our area is forcing some families to “double up” – cram into housing meant for a single family. These families are living an unstable and difficult existence in an effort to avoid the tragedy of homelessness.
2014 Homeless Census/Interfaith Works May 15, 2014
Fox-Morrill said, “As we continue to advocate for more affordable housing in our area, it is important that all partners in our community work together to help those who find themselves facing homelessness or the possibility of becoming homeless. Interfaith Works is proud to be among the key partners working together for the day when all Montgomery County residents achieve the safety and security of housing.”
About Interfaith Works
Interfaith Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency and a non-sectarian interfaith coalition of more than 165 affiliated congregations of diverse faiths, working together to meet the needs of the poor and homeless in Montgomery County, Md. Our programs shelter, clothe and feed our neighbors in need and provide supportive services with the goal of helping them achieve self-sufficiency. Our mission is to pursue social justice with an emphasis on identifying and meeting the needs of the poor by leading and engaging Montgomery County’s faith communities in service, education, and advocacy. Interfaith Works’ Priscilla Fox-Morrill is an expert on homelessness in Montgomery County, Md., and has worked in this field for more than 20 years.