Volunteers Hit The Streets Overnight For Annual Montgomery County Homeless Census
Before Dawn Wednesday an army of volunteers will fan out across Montgomery County to count the county's homeless population.
The annual federally mandated homeless count takes place every year at the end of January, when cold temperatures typically drive more people to seek shelter indoors. That's because, officials say, counting in cold weather often makes it easier to find people who remain outdoors, camping in parks, near railroad tracks or under bridges and overpasses. The homeless census also aims to count anyone sleeping in emergency shelters and transitional housing.
In addition to compiling a tally of homeless individuals, Kathleen Shanahan with Montgomery County Homeless Solutions says, volunteers will provide anyone found living outdoors with cold-weather supplies such as blankets, gloves and other items, along with information on shelter options.
“And then the outreach workers will also go back out later that day then, once they’ve done that initial count to continue that engagement work, with the goal of ‘let’s make sure we’re connecting people to housing and services,” she says.
Volunteers will also visit county food pantries, including Project Blessing, Life Enrichment Center and House of Bread.
Last year, the county’s homeless population totaled nearly 600. The overall number of homeless people in Montgomery County has dropped slightly over the last five years.
Officials say the unsheltered population tends to fluctuate with the weather. Warmer temperatures typically mean more people are found living outdoors.