Homeless prevention and assistance nonprofit Bethesda Cares will lead a survey and count of the area’s homeless tomorrow, part of Montgomery County’s requirement for homeless program grant funding.
Bethesda Cares director Susan Kirk said about 45 volunteers will help the organization do a joint point-and-time count and medical needs survey starting at 4:45 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday) to help fulfill the requirements of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Groups of volunteers, government employees and nonprofit workers will be going out around Montgomery County tomorrow morning to conduct the count. HUD requires communities receiving Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Grant funding to complete an annual report on the homeless using sheltered facilities and a biennial report that includes those living in unsheltered facility.
Councilman George Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park, chair of the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee, will volunteer for a homeless count in Gaithersburg. Leventhal has canvassed with Bethesda Cares before, where Kirk and outreach specialist John Mendez are lobbying for a Housing First policy of ending homelessness in the county.
The information collected in tomorrow’s counts will be part of the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), which studies the extent and nature of homelessness in the U.S. The report provides nationwide estimates of homelessness, including information about the demographic characteristics of homeless persons, service use patterns and the capacity to house homeless persons.
“Our County is committed to reducing the prevalence of homelessness, with the ultimate goal of placing homeless residents in permanent housing and better lives overall — eventually eradicating homelessness altogether,” Leventhal said in a statement released Tuesday.
In 2011, Bethesda Cares criticized the operations of the county’s Housing Opportunities Commission at one Hampden Lane facility, where Mendez felt not enough of the most vulnerable and chronically homeless were placed.
Last year’s point-and-time count recorded 72 chronically homeless on the streets of downtown Bethesda, Friendship Heights and White Flint.