Baltimore County Now
Homeless Services Administrator
Baltimore County Department of Planning
To the average citizen the word “homeless” often conjures up the vision of person pan handling on the corner, living in a tent in the woods or in shelter. One might think to themselves that folks who are experiencing homelessness should pick themselves up, improve their lives, and get a job. We often don’t think about or see the larger scope, the complex problems these individuals face or the many services that already exist and how those services are delivered.
Baltimore County is making a daily difference in the lives of homeless men, women and children and County Executive Kamenetz is committed to not only continuing to support these efforts but to improving and building a stronger system that shifts our focus from shelters to long-term solutions.
There are more than 550 men, women and children living in homeless shelters across Baltimore County on any given night and hundreds living in places not meant for human habitation such as cars and encampments. The County with significant community support has devised a 10-Year Plan to shift homeless service delivery and as a result, prevent and reduce homelessness.
The plan, called “A Home for All,” began with an unprecedented community input process in 2010 and grew from the work of the Baltimore County Homeless Roundtable with significant input from the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Subcommittees focused on Housing, Accessing Mainstream Resources, Homeless Prevention and Outreach, Coordinated Assessment and Data Management worked to create seven key strategies:
Strategy One: Reconfigure the Crisis Response System:
Expand on the current coordinated assessment system and retool the emergency shelter system.
Strategy Two: Targeted Prevention Assistance
Focus prevention services on those most at risk of homelessness through careful selection and connection to mainstream resources.
Strategy Three: Rapid Re-Housing
Create a “housing first” approach that combines affordable and permanent housing with supportive services.
Strategy Four: Accessing Mainstream and Community Resources
Increase connections to mainstream resources in order to create a means for housing and self-sufficiency.
Strategy Five: Permanent and Supportive Housing
Create new permanent supportive housing units Countywide.
Strategy Six: Improved Data and Outcome Measures
Build on the existing performance measurement structure through the creation of system-wide data standards and reporting requirements.
Strategy Seven: Resource Allocation
Align funding sources around common outcomes including housing and supportive services.
Making it Happen:
The Homeless Roundtable, in coordination with these committees, is tasked with carrying out these action items and assuring that the County is moving forward to put in place systems which will result in the reduction and duration of homelessness for residents of Baltimore County.
Baltimore County is committed to realizing the goal of preventing and reducing homelessness, and as a result, has funding to begin to implement a number of the strategies shown above. Specifically, funds have been identified for the following programs:
1. Pilot Shelter Diversion - The primary goal of the pilot diversion program will be to work with individuals and families seeking shelter to find alternatives to entering the shelter system.
2. Rapid Re-housing –Through this program, families receive housing counseling, assistance in securing housing; time limited rental assistance and case management in order to ensure housing stability.
3. Increased Outreach - Prologue’s Street Outreach Team serves the most chronic and vulnerable homeless population in Baltimore County; those individuals and families living on the streets, in cars and in other places not meant for human habitation. Additional funds will allow for the addition of 1.5 outreach workers to provide outreach and case management, and for the Outreach Center to be open an additional day.
4. Job Navigator -Perhaps the most significant barrier to obtaining and retaining permanent housing is the lack of adequate income. To help address this root cause of homelessness, the County has provided funding for a Career Navigator, through the Department of Economic and Workforce Development. The Career Navigator will work primarily at the shelters and focus solely on employment.
The Homeless Roundtable is close to completing implementation plans for each strategy. These plans include goals, action steps, planned partnerships, outcomes and performance measures and plans for resource allocation. These plans will serve as the pathway to preventing and reducing homelessness.
For questions regarding the plan and future efforts, please contact Sue DeSantis, Homeless Services Administrator, Baltimore County Department of Planning, 410-887-2886.
Lt. Steve Troutman, Baltimore County Police Crash Team Leader
Battalion Chief Jennifer Utz, Baltimore County Fire Department
Now that summer is here, people are getting out and about more. Sadly, the beautiful June weather means more people will be seriously hurt - or killed - just crossing the street.
It’s not usually who you think, or for the reasons you think…
There are some common misconceptions when it comes to pedestrian crashes. Most people tend to assume that the crash is caused by the person behind the wheel. That is normally NOT the case. Plus, it’s more often an adult rather than a child who is struck.
In fact, 80% of these incidents are actually caused by the pedestrian. Many of these fatal crashes are results of:
· Failure to walk in crosswalks or obey crosswalk signals
· Distracted walking
· Failure to look both ways
· Wearing dark clothing while walking at night
You might be even more surprised to know that 60% of those killed last year in pedestrian-vehicle crashes were over the age of 40. That’s right, we’re not just talking about distracted students or young children; most pedestrian infractions are committed by adults.
Tragically, in recent years, Baltimore County is experiencing a significant increase in the number of serious pedestrian crashes. Each year, the Baltimore County Police and Fire Departments respond to about 420 pedestrian-vehicle crashes - that’s more than one accident every day, on average! In 2013, the number of fatal crashes in Baltimore County increased more than in the last five years.
Though pedestrian related crashes are prevalent throughout Baltimore County, there are particular areas where rates are higher, such as Liberty Road in Randallstown, York Road in Towson, and Merritt Boulevard in Dundalk. Each of these areas has high volumes of traffic, which can result in greater chances of injury. There are also large numbers of pedestrian crashes near bus stops, as pedestrians can sometimes focus more on making the bus or rushing home than on their own safety.
With the drastic increase in pedestrian accidents in the last few years, Baltimore County is launching a “Heads Up! Walk Safe” public awareness campaign, focusing on four simple reminders:
· Obey the Law: always cross at a crosswalk or intersection
· Avoid Distractions: put away the cell phones and other electronic devices while crossing
· Be Visible: when walking or running at night, wear bright colors
· Be Aware: be mindful of your surroundings and know when a vehicle is approaching
Find out more on the County’s Walk Safe web page. On behalf of our fellow first responders, please walk safely and don’t be our next crash victim!
Edited by Justin Tucker, Baltimore County Office of Communications Intern
Caregiver Connection Manager, Department of Aging
Frustration, fear and feelings of being overwhelmed are a large part of caregiving for a loved one. Sometimes you feel like you are isolated and there is no relief in sight. Baltimore County Department of Aging understands your feelings and seeks to provide resources and tools to empower and care for yourself.
Plan ahead for your loved one’s safety and security by attending this year’s BCDA Caregivers Mini-Conference. Doors will open at 8:45 a.m. and close around 12 noon on Saturday, April 5 at the Catonsville Senior Center, 501 N. Rolling Road, Catonsville 21228. There is no admission charge. A light breakfast and beverages will be served. Guest speakers will inform the audience about basic legal considerations, safe driving tips and transportation alternatives, and proper hands-on care techniques. Resource tables highlighting BCDA will be available throughout the morning, staffed by specialists in the field of aging and disabilities.
Here are some comments we heard from last year’s conference:
“I attended the Annual Caregivers Mini-Conference with my mother because she is the primary caregiver for my father, her husband of 56 years. She and I had been overwhelmed with his stubbornness to accept additional care and help for his increasing medical needs,” stated a family caregiver after last year’s BCDA Caregivers Mini-Conference.
“The conference was very helpful in the way we learned about new resources and tips to bolster his acceptance of care. To see my mother more positive about her caregiving was priceless to me, as her only daughter. We went in to the conference feeling burned out and came out with new suggestions and a brighter attitude about our situation.”
If you are a family member caring for an older adult in the Baltimore area, you owe it to yourself to come out for half a day to refresh yourself in your role as caregiver. All are welcome. No pre-registration; just come that day! For more information, contact 410-887-4724.