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Homeless Nonprofits Brace For Bitter Cold

by Aaron Kraut | January 6, 2014 at 4:20 pm | 54 views | No Comments

A group of volunteers in the darkness last October after surveying homeless in 2012 in Bethesda (file photo)A medically vulnerable homeless woman identified in the recent 100,000 Homes campaign moved into a Bethesda permanent housing facility on Monday. But many like her will be on the streets on Monday night as temperatures fall to the single digits.

County health workers and homeless prevention nonprofits are making an extra effort to get the chronically homeless to temporary shelters before a potentially record-setting cold front sets in.

The Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH) works in partnership with crisis outreach groups and the Montgomery County Crisis Center to encourage homeless individuals to go to shelters. Bethesda Cares outreach workers went out Monday to alert homeless individuals of the coming cold weather.

Not all homeless individuals agree to move to shelters, but the woman who moved into permanent housing on Monday represents the first of what officials hope is much progress after last fall’s volunteer surveying program.

MCCH on Monday moved in a 58-year-old woman who was one of the first identified as medically vulnerable. She’ll live at Cordell Place, the MCCH-operated permanent supportive housing program on Cordell Avenue.

The woman, whose name was not released because of privacy concerns, ranked high on the Vulnerability Index survey. Volunteers went out to spots where homeless individuals are known to sleep and asked them questions about medical histories. Some have been on the streets for years, meaning rapidly decreasing health situations that can be made worse in the winter.

The woman suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and the move into permanent housing “is intended to ensure she will not die homeless,” according to MCCH. The woman was surveyed at an emergency women’s shelter in Rockville.

The County Council, led by Councilmembers George Leventhal and Craig Rice, recently put in about $650,000 in this year’s budget to support permanent housing of 15 more chronically homeless people identified in the surveys.

The county’s Community Crisis Center can be reached at 240-777-4000 and the non-emergency police line is 301-279-8000. MCCH on Monday also handed out “street cards” with contact information for shelters.

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