UPPER MARLBORO – Prince George’s County is exhibiting progress towards lowering homelessness in the area. According to the recently released results of the 2018 Point-In-Time (PIT) homelessness survey released by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), Prince George’s County experienced the greatest reduction in the percentage rate of persons experiencing homelessness with a 10 […]
UPPER MARLBORO – Prince George’s County is exhibiting progress towards lowering homelessness in the area.
According to the recently released results of the 2018 Point-In-Time (PIT) homelessness survey released by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), Prince George’s County experienced the greatest reduction in the percentage rate of persons experiencing homelessness with a 10 percent decrease. In 2017, 532 individuals were counted as homeless, compared to 478 in 2018.
The PIT count took place on Jan. 24. County staff and volunteers spent the day going to areas in the county known to be trafficked by homeless individuals, such as libraries and shelters. In addition to counting each individual, they also gathered relevant demographic information and other data on each participant. This information includes age, race, gender, employment and whether or not they have been a victim of domestic violence.
The other jurisdictions included in the report are the City of Alexandria, Arlington County, Washington, D.C., Fairfax County, the City of Frederick and Frederick County, Loudoun County, Montgomery County and Prince William County.
Based on the count, 10,480 people throughout the D.C. region were homeless. That is a decrease of 6 percent from the previous year.
Prince George’s County also had the highest percentage reduction in the literally homeless count from 2014 to 2018, at 27 percent.
“Literally homeless” refers to homeless individuals who are sheltered or unsheltered.
D.C. experienced the greatest reduction in the number of individuals experiencing homelessness from 2017 to 2018, with 569 fewer homeless individuals followed by Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties, which both had 54 fewer individuals counted.
Prince George’s County did not count any chronically homeless families that night.
“Our successful efforts to reduce the number of homeless residents in Prince George’s County is directly attributed to our improved economy, a lower unemployment rate, improved data collection and performance measures, and increased collaboration and cooperation among county agencies, community organizations and throughout the region,” said County Executive Rushern Baker, III. “While I am very pleased with our progress this year, there is still much work to do to continue on the path to end homelessness.”
According to the report, the county attributes the decline in homelessness to six key strategies, which are coordinated entry, prevention assistance, shelter diversion, rapid re-housing, permanent housing and improved data collection and performance measures.
Prince George’s County identified five homeless subpopulations to focus on for program development: domestic violence and human trafficking, unaccompanied youth and young adults ages 13-24, veterans, chronically homeless and other homeless persons experiencing severe behavioral health challenges, and returning citizens.
The report includes a list of challenges the D.C. region as a whole faces in the effort to maintain low levels of, and eventually eliminate, homelessness. These difficulties involve rising rent, shortage of living wage jobs, and uncertainty regarding the future of funding levels for housing programs.
The PIT takes place during the winter so that the counters locate and identify the members of the community who are the most vulnerable, who have nowhere to stay during the cold and sometimes life-threating winter weather. The count does not include people who do not have a permanent home but are “couch surfing” among other residences.
According to the report, “It is important to note that this ‘snapshot,’ by definition, provides one perspective on the state of homelessness in metropolitan Washington on only one night, and the county may be influenced by numerous variables, such as weather and bed availability by jurisdiction.”