April 2015, Rockville, MD — The 2015 count of people experiencing homelessness in Montgomery County is 1,100, an increase compared to last year’s count of 891. Despite this increase, some of the homeless census data indicate encouraging trends.
The overall spike can be attributed to an increase in the number of families experiencing homelessness, which rose from 91 families in 2014 to 159 families in 2015.
This increase is cause for concern, Interfaith Works CEO Shane Rock said. But he is encouraged by some of the results of the “Point in Time” survey, conducted across the county in January 2015, because the snapshot census indicates decreases in specific populations of those experiencing homelessness.
Those identified as chronically homeless decreased by 10.5% and unsheltered chronically homeless by 48.4%. “Chronically homeless” generally is defined as an individual or family who has been continuously homeless for a year or more or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.
“We are making good progress in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in our area, helping them move to the safety and stability of permanent, supportive housing,” Rock said. Households without children experienced a modest reduction in 2015 to 598 from 603 in 2014, continuing a downward trend over the past three years.
“These results suggest that intense, targeted programs aimed at helping those in need move from the temporary shelter environment or the outdoors into more permanent situations are yielding results,” Rock said. “Our Interfaith Homes program targets chronically homeless and vulnerable people and has successful moved them into safe stable housing. Efforts like these will help us continue to work toward the county-wide goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2017.”
Interfaith Works is a leading nonprofit in Montgomery County providing shelter and housing along with a wide array of services to help bring stability to the economically fragile in the community.
The Point in Time survey was conducted in January 2015 by local governments with the help of teams of trained volunteers and local social service agencies, including Interfaith Works. The Montgomery County teams fanned out across the area on a bitterly cold morning, counting and interviewing those experiencing homelessness, including those living outdoors. The survey also counts those living in temporary housing, such as emergency shelters and hotels. The one-day census is considered a snapshot of those experiencing homelessness on any given day in Montgomery County, and takes place in communities all across the United States.
“Overall, the survey numbers are an important indicator of both the successes and challenges we are facing,” Rock said. “We are making strides in housing vulnerable people.” Rock added, “Of course, even one person coping with the instability and stress of homelessness is one too many. Everyone deserves the safety and security of an affordable place to live.”
Rock noted the survey numbers are important because they help quantify the extent of the issue of homelessness and provide data that will inform and guide the work done by Interfaith Works and other agencies. He said, “Interfaith Works is proud to be among the key partners working together for the day when all Montgomery County residents are able to achieve the safety and security of housing.”
He praised Interfaith Works’ Montgomery County community partners, including the County Executive, County Council and the Department of Health and Human Services, for their support of efforts to provide a hand up to those facing economic crisis.
About Interfaith Works Interfaith Works, based in Rockville, is one of Montgomery County’s leading social service organizations and is celebrating 43 years of service to the economically vulnerable. Each year, Interfaith Works helps 20,000 neighbors in need move from crisis to stability through prevention, support and empowerment. For more information about Interfaith Works, call 301.762.8682 or go to: www.iworksmc.org