[fusion_text]The brutal temperatures this winter are inconvenient to most of us, but pose extraordinary challenges for our neighbors experiencing homelessness. It can be a life-or-death situation.
In partnership with Montgomery County, Interfaith Works opens the doors of our Silver Spring-based IW Empowerment Center to be sure that no one is left to face the elements outside if they need shelter. There is a network of county staff and social service providers who work together to provide these essential services. Sadly, at least one person experiencing homelessness, who had been living in his car, passed away. That is one person too many.
Since we opened the emergency seasonal shelter in November, we have been serving more than 60 community members each night, providing a safe place to sleep more than 4,000 times. As you might imagine, the number served per day is much higher when the bitter cold arrives. The winter shelter will remain open through March. The IW Empowerment Center is a busy place day or night, providing case management, vocational services, and access to laundry and more than 800 showers per month.
While this emergency service is essential, Interfaith Works and our community partners also are focused on finding longer term solutions. IW is proud to be part of a campaign known as “Inside/Not Outside,” an intense effort by the Interagency Commission on Homelessness in collaboration with Montgomery County Health and Human Services and non-profits to find permanent, supportive housing for all Montgomery County residents experiencing chronic homelessness. The goal is to end chronic homelessness in Montgomery County this year. We continue to make progress towards this goal. In a single week, four residents of the IW Women’s Center moved out of the shelter and into permanent, supportive housing. That is a great victory and an affirmation of the deep dedication of our staff.
We are celebrating one year of operations at the new Progress Place location in Silver Spring, home to the IW Empowerment Center and IW Residences. The Residences program provides 21 men and women, many of whom have experienced homelessness for years or even decades, with efficiency-style living quarters and support from our case managers who are invested in ensuring the residents have what they need to succeed living inside, not outside.
Thank you, as always, for your support. You are the reason Interfaith Works is able to provide programs that change — and sometimes save — the lives of our neighbors.
Interfaith Works CEO[/fusion_text]