ROCKVILLE, Md. (WDVM) — Montgomery County officials and community partners held their annual memorial to remember dozens of homeless individuals who have died this past year.
Montgomery County memorialized 31 homeless individuals. “We need to remember them in spite of their challenges with homelessness. We need to always remember that their lives were valuable and precious,” said Interfaith Works Director of Homeless Services, Christine Hong.
The individuals who passed were homeless at the time of their death or homeless at some point in their lives. “That includes individuals that may have been in permanent housing, and also those that were in shelter or staying in the streets,” said Chief of DHHS’ Services to End and Prevent Homelessness, Amanda Harris.
Officials say most of those facing homelessness die around 50. “Things like diabetes, or hypertension or asthma when you’re constantly on the streets, and you don’t have a safe and stable place to go, you can’t manage your medication, you can’t manage your diet,” Harris stated.
Many are facing health problems, such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Officials also highlighted issues, like mental health and substance abuse. Many organizations in the county have worked collaboratively to help bring numbers of the homeless population down.
The county houses hundreds of people per year. “Our mission should continue to end homelessness so no one ever has to pass away while not having a roof over their head,” Hong said.
Officials say they want people to remember: those facing homelessness are still our neighbors and that the county’s goal is to end family homelessness by the end of 2020.
Video courtesy: Andre Dunston, Montgomery County Public Information Office