Montgomery Co. aims to find homes for chronically homeless

The homeless population currently stands at around 1,000 in Montgomery County. Photo: waferboard via Creative Commons

Even one of the wealthiest communities in the country isn’t immune to homelessness. Montgomery County joined a nationwide movement Wednesday to find 100,000 permanent homes for chronically homeless residents.

John Kaine of Germantown isn’t afraid to share his story.

“The drugs, not thinking right, and not making healthy decisions,” he says.

Kaine says substance abuse had a ripple effect on his family and career, eventually putting him out on the street.

“Be up all night and then during the daytime trying to find a place to sleep,” says Kaine.

In 2008 he made a decision to get clean and seek help, eventually finding a temporary home at the Home Builder’s Care Assessment Center in Rockville.

“In 2009 of February I had my own place,” he says.

That path toward recovery and eventually finding permanent housing is the goal Montgomery County wants to magnify.

“We don’t want anyone to die in a homeless shelter. We don’t want anyone to die in the streets,” says Jennifer Schiller of the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless.

Local leaders and the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless have announced a new plan of action.

“This will be the first time that we’ll be identifying those who are the most vulnerable and prioritizing them for housing replacements,” says Susie Sinclair-Smith, the executive director.

That includes getting volunteers to help this November by conducting a survey of the homeless population, similar to the efforts in Fairfax in February. The goal is to get information directly from the source so the county can model services based on need, plus reach 100,000 placements nationwide.

“We reported 64 placements which we had accomplished since last fall and helped the campaign move over its 50 percentage mark,” Sinclair-Smith says.

The homeless population currently stands at around 1,000 in the county. Kaine, however, is no longer a statistic.

“I’m a father and a grandfather,” says Kaine. “They’re happy for me. They have a place for them to come and see me.”

Three-hundred people are needed to help with the surveys during the week of November 3. If you’re interested, click here.