More than one hundred people gathered Friday morning to talk about one of the most pervasive issues in the state and here in Frederick County.
“Homelessness is a solvable problem. It’s just a matter of us coming together and doing the work,” said senior program specialist at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, Amanda Miller.
According to a 2018 annual report on the issue prepared by the state interagency council on homelessness, a total of 1,215 homeless clients were served by the Maryland Continuum of Care program in Frederick County.
But beyond just the numbers, a community forum aimed to explore the intersections of homelessness.
“We have five different tracks in today’s forum that are really allocated across key themes and key needs in the community: shelter and supportive services, services for homeless children and youth, primary health care and mental health care, treatment of substance use disorders, and subsidized housing programs,” explained executive director for the Student Homelessness Initiative Partnership of Frederick County, Ed Hinde.
Hinde says it’s only been in recent years that focus has been shifted to young adults, under the age of 25, experiencing homelessness.
“Youth homelessness has grown substantially and is particularly hard to identify. [As of] June of 2018, there were 131 students enrolled in Frederick County Public Schools that were unaccompanied. They were no longer living under directed supervision of a parent or guardian,” Hinde says.
Health officials spoke to the medical needs and concerns with this population that can include mental illness.
“Those who are chronically and literally homeless frequently are experiencing mental illness and or substance abuse issues. Those co-occurring disorders can make a multitude of barriers to accessing housing,” said executive director of the Mental Health Management Agency of Frederick County, Pippa McCullough.
Coordinators for the event say this is the first year the forum has been an all-day educational event.
They hope participants leave with at least one new resource or grain of information to continue tackling homelessness.