Nine-hundred-eighty-one homeless people were tallied in Montgomery County last year.
“In January, everyone across the United States goes out into their communities and tries to get an accurate count of the people who may be experiencing street homelessness or sleeping outdoors,” said Kacy Barker, program director with Interfaith Works. “On that very same night, anybody who’s in a shelter is also being counted.”
The count is done nationwide, known as the Point-in-Time Survey, mandated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Even though we are continuing to increase our housing inventory, where we’re constantly getting new programs, our numbers are generally staying the same,” said Barker.
Nine-hundred-eighty-one nearly doubles Baltimore County, which had the second highest number of homeless people recorded in the state at 448.
This does not include Baltimore City.
But, the counts cover unsheltered and sheltered homeless; in Montgomery County, only 96 people were living on the streets, while the other 885 were staying in emergency and transitional shelters.
“A lack of affordable housing is a huge issue,” said Barker. “You’ll see a lot of people in our shelter programs that many people are working full-time jobs or two part-time jobs and still can’t afford rent.”
This year’s survey in Montgomery County happened on Jan. 26 and 27.
As surveyors drove throughout the county, they handed out goodie bags with things like toiletries, gift cards, and Homeless Services Guides, encouraging people to take advantage of the county’s transitional programs.
“The whole point of increasing our outreach efforts and trying to engage people outdoors is to get them to come in, engaged in services, and get them linked up with a housing program as soon as possible,” said Barker.
The results are expected to be released in the fall.