From Harford County government:
On Wednesday, January 26, 2011, local homeless service providers, community volunteers, local police agencies, and the Harford County Government will come together in a coordinated effort to conduct a one day count of homeless persons in Harford County.
Like many communities, Harford County has many among us who are living in places not meant for human habitation; outside and unsheltered, or who are relying daily on some form of emergency housing. Conducting a count of the homeless in the community will not only help government realize how many are homeless, but also help in understand the underlying issues that have contributed to individuals becoming homeless. Collecting good data, characteristics, and service needs of the homeless in our community will allow local human service providers to obtain the necessary information to effectively plan programs to eradicate homelessness in Harford County.
Physical and mental health treatment, addictions services, employment readiness training, job placement, credit repair and life skills training are among some of the services a homeless person or family will need as they work toward self- sufficiency. Evaluating data that is collected during this point-in-time count, the community can identify where gaps in services may exist, and work toward filling them.
Those interested in helping by donating blankets, hats, gloves, water bottles or personal care items, or would like to help pack bag lunches for the homeless, please contact the Harford Roundtable Homeless Count sub-committee at 410-273-6700 during normal business hours Monday – Friday.
Each year, the Harford County Department of Community Services works with community and faith-based agencies to help families avoid homelessness. When tough times happen to families, the department works with partners to make sure funding can be accessed at various locations throughout the County.
Through partnerships, homeless individuals and families are able to develop life skills and employment opportunities, and achieve self-sufficiency by obtaining safe, affordable housing. These efforts also help divert individuals with mental health issues away from the criminal justice system and into treatment, which reduces recidivism and increases stability.
Harford County currently has eight emergency, transitional and permanent supportive shelters, offering a total of 230 beds for homeless adults, children and families. In fiscal year 2010, Harford County provided 1,048 people with 32,789 emergency shelter or transitional housing bed nights, for an average stay of 31 nights per person. In 2010, the Harford County Department of Community Services provided more than a $1 million in homeless program funding, which assisted such organizations as Alliance, Inc., Faith Communities and Civic Agencies United, Inc.(FCCAU), Associated Catholic Charities Inc./Anna’s House, the Sexual Assault/Spouse Abuse Resource Center(SARC), and Harford Family House, Inc.
It takes a community to make a difference. Homeless citizens are among the most vulnerable population we strive to serve. They struggle with multiple barriers, which impede their ability to meet their own needs at every level. Many are physically, emotionally, and/or mentally disabled, and because of this, are more susceptible to becoming victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation. Working with key partners, including FCCAU, SARC, Anna’s House, Harford Family House, Homecoming Projects, Inc., and Alliance, Inc., we are making a difference in serving these vulnerable citizens.
Other agencies in our community that support low-income residents include the Harford Community Action Agency (HCAA), Inner-County Outreach, Inc., Mason-Dixon Community Services, Open Doors Career Center, Inc., Tabitha’s House, F.I.S.H., Birthright, St. Joan of Arc, St. Frances de Sales, the Salvation Army of Harford County, and many other civic agencies and churches. This group covers a wide array of essential services such as food banks and soup kitchens, eviction prevention and rental support, clothing closets and furniture/household materials, school and infant supplies, utility assistance and job training.
To learn more about homeless services in Harford County, visit www.harfordcountymd.gov/services/homeless, or call the Department of Community Services at 410-638-3389.