Point in Time Survey:
Every year, Montgomery County participates in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) one day count of the homeless, called the Point-in-Time Survey. This year's survey was conducted on January 25, 2017. A total of 894 homeless persons were counted, a decline of nine percent (9%) from the 2016 count. The overall decrease in homelessness can largely be attributed to a 21% reduction in the number of homeless households with children.
Household and individuals Experiencing Homelessness
Identified During the Point in Time Count
|Households with Children||278||358||-22%|
|Chronic Homeless Households||159||151||+5%|
It should be noted that the Point-in-Time Survey has limitations. As stated in its name, the survey reflects a “point in time”. In 2016, the Point-in-Time Survey occurred during a blizzard which could lead to lower than normal numbers. The Point-in-Time is also based on self-reporting and not documented demographic information. This can lead to higher reported numbers of veterans and lower reported number of people experiencing chronic homelessness. Individuals with serious behavioral health challenges may not accurately report this information while others may refuse to participate in the survey. Other unsheltered populations such as youth or families may be missed due to limited outreach during the count to locations frequented by these populations.
Bi-Annual "Blitz" Counts:
Over the next year, the Continuum of Care (CoC) will make efforts to more accurately reflect trends in the homeless population in Montgomery County. One strategy is to conduct quarterly “blitz” counts of those experiencing chronic homelessness. Blitzes are like the Point-in-Time Survey but focus exclusively on unsheltered individuals and have lower thresholds for including individuals in the reported numbers. The first “outreach blitz” was conducted in October 2016 and was used to determine the list (by name) of those individuals who are chronically homeless. From this information, it was determined that there were 274 individuals identified as chronically homeless or at risk. The next blitz was conducted in May 2017.
Another strategy to improve the data quality on persons experiencing homelessness is to engage other stakeholders such as schools, jails, and hospitals. Over the next year, the CoC is planning a homeless youth count that will engage all stakeholders and be more inclusive than a typical Point-in-Time.
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) 2017 Point-in-Time Report