Cumberland Times-News

November 23, 2013

Statistics don’t capture full scope of local problem

From Staff Reports
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — Allegany County Human Resources Development Commission Executive Director Courtney Thomas responded to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Report on Homelessness with the following comments:

“HUD’s annual ‘point-in-time’ count attempts to capture the scope of homelessness for a community based on an annual head count of sheltered homeless and visible unsheltered homeless. The point-in-time head count is conducted on a single night in January and does not take into consideration those often referred to as the ‘hidden homeless’ individuals without a fixed address who are currently residing with friends or family or who may have doubled up or are cohabitating with other families out of need. While HUD’s point-in-time count documents a steady decline in homelessness across the country, the numbers do not capture the full scope of homelessness and are not reflective of the need HRDC sees in Allegany County.

“In HRDC’s most recent fiscal year (which ended Sept. 30), Laura’s Anchor, Allegany County’s only transitional shelter for homeless women and children with a 14-bed capacity housed a total of 55 individuals (20 heads of household and 35 children). An additional 377 individuals (130 individuals and 247 children) sought shelter during the year but were turned away due to lack of space. Some of these individuals found shelter at the Union Rescue Mission; others were housed for a short period of time in local hotels; and others remained without a place to go until the cold weather shelter opened in January. The cold weather shelter, a joint initiative between the Union Rescue Mission and HRDC, is supported by an annual allocation from County United Way and the generous donations of area churches and businesses. The cold weather shelter housed 44 individuals and provided 957 meals to homeless over the course of January, February and March of 2013.

“There is a real need for year-round emergency and transitional housing and homeless services in Allegany County.”

“The 2014 cold weather shelter will open on January 2, 2014,” said Thomas when contacted Friday and asked to comment on the HUD report.