Survey: Homelessness in MoCo Has Dropped 23 Percent
The overall number of persons experiencing homelessness in Montgomery County decreased by 23 percent, according to the 2019 Point in Time Survey.
Data from Montgomery County is part of a regional analysis and report by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG). Concerned by the lack of regional data available, COG undertook the first effort to produce a Point in Time count of homeless adults and children in metropolitan Washington in 2001. Read COG’s report at www.mwcog.org/ homelessnessreport. The survey was conducted on January 23. On the night of the count, there were 647 persons who were homeless in Montgomery County, as compared with 840 persons counted in 2018. Since 2017, there has been a 28 percent decrease in the overall number of homeless individuals. This is the most significant decrease in any two-year period since 2009.
“We have worked hard as a community to quickly move people experiencing homelessness into permanent housing while offering support services to keep them housed and our efforts are paying off,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Our Inside Not Outside effort to permanently house every chronically homeless individual continues and we have housed more than 400 individuals since our efforts began. We are now focusing on housing families with children and youth and will continue those efforts. The partnership between our County programs and nonprofit partners who work every day of the year to end homelessness is a statement of the values we hold as a community.”
The number of persons experiencing chronic homelessness has decreased by 93 percent from 2017 to 2019. The continued decline in homelessness can be attributed to the reallocation and investment of funding towards permanent housing and the Inside Not Outside campaign to end chronic homelessness. Providers have removed barriers to housing, enhanced outreach and created a list to identify, track and follow those identified as chronically homeless or “at risk of chronic homelessness.” As of April 26, 413 chronically homeless individuals have been placed in permanent housing.
Since 2017, there has been a 73 percent decrease in those reporting substance abuse. There were 28 adults reporting chronic substance use in 2019 compared with 66 reporting that in 2018. Households without children experienced a 22 percent decrease in 2019 from 568 in 2018 to 441 in 2019. The number reporting a chronic health condition decreased by 48 percent from 144 in 2017 to 84 in 2019. There were 61 families with children in 2019, compared with 86 in 2018.
"I am proud of the systemic approach that Montgomery County has taken to end chronic homelessness and am thrilled that it has decreased by 23 percent. The partnership between nonprofit providers, our Department of Health and Human Services, and key community stakeholders is making a difference, said Councilmember Gabe Albornoz. “As chair of the Health and Human Services committee, I will make it my mission to continue to remove barriers and provide accessibility for those who are in need of a place to live. When someone secures permanent housing, we all win as a community."
“On a cold January night, I participated in the Point in Time count and was encouraged to see for myself the decrease of individuals experiencing homelessness,” said Councilmember Evan Glass, the Council’s lead on Homelessness and Vulnerable Communities and a member of the Interagency Commission on Homelessness. “We’ve made tremendous progress in providing safe shelters for individuals at risk of becoming homeless while also partnering with our nonprofit community to find permanent supportive housing for those who are ready. I am proud of the dedication and coordination among all stakeholders; an effort that will be needed as we continue working to eradicate homelessness in Montgomery County.”
Though Montgomery County achieved the goal of ending veteran homelessness in December 2015, sustaining functional zero requires continual monitoring and commitment of resources. During the 2019 count, 13 homeless veterans were counted, the same number as the 2018 count. As of April 12, four of the veterans have been housed and six are approved for housing.
The County’s Homeless Continuum of Care (CoC) is a public-private partnership that includes state and local government agencies, nonprofit service providers, landlords and other stakeholders who have a role in preventing and ending homelessness. Led by the County’s Department of Health and Human Services, the CoC works to provide a continuum of housing services to individuals and families, including outreach and engagement, emergency and transitional shelter, rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing. Case management is provided with an emphasis on removing housing barriers and connecting people with housing, employment, disability entitlements and other mainstream services. The continuum also utilizes a range of prevention initiatives, including emergency financial assistance, rent subsidies and energy assistance to prevent the loss of permanent housing.
For more information on Montgomery County’s services for the homeless, visit montogmerycountymd.gov/homelessness.