The number of homeless people in Montgomery County increased by nearly 24 percent since 2014, according to the results of January’s point-in-time survey.
The survey, which counts homeless individuals living on the streets, those staying in emergency shelters, people living in transitional housing and formerly homeless people who are receiving social services, was conducted Jan. 28 by local volunteers. The results were released Wednesday in a report during a meeting of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Several other jurisdictions including Prince George’s, Loudon and Fairfax counties as well as Washington, D.C. submitted survey results that were included in the report.
In Montgomery County, the survey counted a total of 1,100 homeless people. That is an increase of 23.5 percent, or 209 people, from the 891 homeless individuals counted in 2014. The survey counted a total of 598 homeless individuals and 159 homeless families, with 502 individuals making up those families.
The number of children in homeless families increased 70 percent since 2014, with 318 children counted this year compared to 187 in 2014.
“Montgomery County continues to experience high housing costs, which makes it difficult for households to obtain and maintain permanent housing,” county officials wrote in the report. The county reported that the increase in homelessness can be attributed to the reduction of federal housing vouchers, an increase in adults aged 18 to 24 with limited education and work experience, and friends and families no longer being able to support homeless individuals with temporary housing or money.
The county noted several efforts undertaken to aid the local homeless population. Efforts include appropriating $650,000 to create new permanent housing for 15 homeless families and $430,000 to create supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals, and the creation of the Montgomery Homeless Continuum of Care. The continuum is a public-private partnership of nonprofits, landlords and state and government agencies that provide services to the local homeless population.
The survey counted a total of 11,623 homeless people throughout the metropolitan region, a 2.7 percent decrease from 2014.
A report about the survey written by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments noted that, “A lack of affordable, permanent housing opportunities remains the most significant obstacle to ending homelessness in our region.”
Washington, D.C., led the region with a total homeless count of 7,928, followed by Fairfax County with 1,204 and Montgomery County with 1,100. The D.C. homeless population represents a little more than 1 percent of the District’s population, while the number of homeless in Montgomery County totals a little more than 0.10 percent of its total population.