On Wednesday January 26 while most of us were busy prepping for the impending snowstorm and trying to decide the best way to get home some folks in our region were trying to figure out how best to stay warm and dry during the storm. Two COG Housing Planners took part in the annual count of the region’s homeless population. Below is Sophie Mintier’s recount of her day participating in Prince George’s County’s count and how meeting Region Forward goals can help reduce the region’s homeless population.
Region Forward’s livability goals include greater access to quality health care and a focus on wellness and prevention and the provision of access to quality social services to all residents. While homeless people may receive health care in the form of an emergency room visit they rarely have the opportunity to receive preventive care and many suffer from chronic health problems that compound the many other challenges they face living on the streets or in shelters.
The concept of Complete Communities ties these themes and goals together. One of the main ways in which RF will be implemented is by transforming regional employment centers throughout the region into Complete Communities areas that will accommodate new growth and concentrate jobs affordable housing transportation options essential social services and other amenities. Complete Communities have the potential to provide many environmental economic development and social equity benefits.
In transforming regional activity centers into Complete Communities we have an opportunity to serve the homeless by making sure that the range of supportive services they need to get off the streets and move towards greater independence are available and accessible. Speaking with homeless individuals in Prince George’s County on Wednesday reminds us of RF’s importance and how urgently we need to proceed in achieving the region’s sustainable growth and prosperity goals.
This is part two of Sophie’s report. Read part one here. COG staff is also updating their Facebook page with photos and reactions from the count.