‘A trend going in the wrong direction;’ Montgomery Co. records highest number of homelessness ever

MONTGOMERY COUNTY — Montgomery County is providing insight into the amount of homelessness in the county.

County officials released the results from the 2023 Point-In-Time (PIT) Count of homelessness Friday morning and the latest number shows a rise in homelessness.

Officials counted 790 people who experience homelessness in the county. Of that number, 684 of them were people in shelters and 106 of them were unsheltered people.

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The total number of homeless people jumped by over 200 compared to last year. The number was also the highest within the last five years, but Kathleen Shanahan, Montgomery County Homeless Solutions program coordinator, said these were the highest numbers they’ve ever seen on a single night.

“I think it’s always surprising, you know, alarming when you see a trend going in the wrong direction and so that certainly brings our attention to the importance of our work and the right strategies to really address all forms of homelessness,” Jessica Jenkins, Director of Human Services Planning and Development, said.

The PIT count, required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, was conducted overnight on Jan. 26. The number of sheltered and unsheltered people is taken and used to help communities understand how the need compares to available inventory of shelter, housing and services.

“It’s a community effort. It does take a number of staff [and] volunteers, but all committed to helping us really on the night quantify the scale of housing instability and homelessness in our community,” Jenkins told News Center 7.

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For the unsheltered county, volunteers searched known locations and other possible locations, such as abandoned or vacant properties and underpasses, as well as area meal and service sites where people indicted they were sleeping in an unsheltered place.

As part of the sheltered count, individuals were sleeping in an emergency shelter, such as St. Vincent de Paul.

Officials said some possible factors contributing to this could include the end of the eviction moratorium, rising housing costs, inflation and comparatively stagnant wages.

Jenkins said like the issues contributing to homelessness, the solutions must also been multi-faceted.

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