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Volunteers To Canvass Bethesda's Homeless

Survey effort, a part of the 100,000 Homes Campaign, geared to house the most vulnerable homeless.

Volunteers will once again take to the streets of Bethesda this week to survey the community’s homeless, part of a continuing effort to house the most vulnerable.

Advocacy group Bethesda Cares is heading up an initiative to place homeless men and women into permanent housing as a part of the 100,000 Homes Campaign, a nationwide effort aimed to house 100,000 of the most vulnerable homeless individuals by July of 2013. The campaign tasks communities with creating a by-name registry of homeless individuals in order to help service providers match them with resources and assist them into permanent housing.

The initiative focuses on placing the most vulnerable “chronically homeless”—those most at risk of dying on the street—into permanent housing, rather than shelters or substance abuse programs.

Advocates have argued that the "housing first" approach is the most effective way to combat street homelessness.

As a part of the campaign, volunteers collect information from the homeless about health problems, drug or alcohol abuse, mental illness, length of time out on the street, and whether or not the homeless individual is a veteran.

In Bethesda, canvassing in the early morning hours Tuesday and Wednesday will mark the third time the survey has been conducted here, according to John Mendez, Bethesda Cares outreach specialist.

About 30 students and faculty from the Uniformed Services University and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center will help canvass the homeless sleeping near the Bethesda Metro Station, the Friendship Heights Metro Station, and other locations in Bethesda and White Flint, Mendez said.

The data the volunteers collect will help provide a detailed picture of the men and women living on Bethesda’s streets and the barriers they face when it comes to finding permanent housing. As the surveys continue, Mendez said, they can also highlight the needs of people who are still on the streets as months and years pass.

“We surveyed a guy back in November of last year and here we are, in all likelihood, surveying him again tomorrow morning,” said Mendez, describing a homeless man who sleeps at the Bethesda Metro station. “You can tell by looking at him that his health has deteriorated—he’s slumped over, his step is slower, he’s lost almost 20 pounds. Those are the kinds of things the survey shows us.”

Bethesda Cares will collect the data and pass it on to county officials, Mendez said.

“The survey allows us to collect more accurate data from the folks living on the street and report it to county officials making decisions about housing policy and health care policy,” Mendez said.

Related Articles:

  • New Data Reveals Detailed Picture of Bethesda's Homeless
  • Bethesda Cares Develops By-Name Registry Of Homeless
  • Bethesda Cares: Most Vulnerable Homeless Should Be Housed First
Gus Fring October 04, 2012 at 09:05 PM
It's high time someone covered Bethesda's homeless with canvas.

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