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There are an estimated 1,000 homeless people in Montgomery County. Activists released a survey that identifies those most at risk of death, especially as winter bears down on the area.
Suzie Sinclair Smith is the Executive Director of the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless, an umbrella group of non-profits, private organizations and governmental agencies that works to end homelessness.
More than 300 volunteers fanned out across the county between Nov. 3-6 to interview homeless people. Sinclair Smith says 369 homeless people were surveyed.
"The most striking finding for us is that half of these individuals are at severe risk of dying on the streets," Smith says. "We surveyed people in the shelters, outside, in the jails, and also in the hospitals. These are people with severe physical, mental illness and substance use issues. Homeless people are likely to have a 25 year less life expectancy."
County councilmember George Leventhal has been an advocate for the homeless for years, and he says next week he and fellow councilmember Craig Rice will introduce a supplemental appropriations bill for $700,000.
"The most important thing we can do is provide housing," Leventhal says. "This will house and provide supportive services for 15 priority clients. These are the most medically vulnerable who are the most at-risk of death."
Rice says he was shocked to come face to face with homeless people not far from his home as he helped volunteers conduct the survey.