Every jurisdiction in the region is affected by homelessness. Through close collaboration, the members of COG’s Homeless Services Planning and Coordinating Committee are able to share strategies in addressing common challenges that are unique to living in a high-cost housing market such as metropolitan Washington. To support the members of the Homeless Services Planning and Coordinating Committee, COG also organizes training events, discussions, and speakers on recent research and best practices in the field.
Through the committee, COG conducts an annual point-in-time (PIT) enumeration of the region's homeless and formerly homeless population. Conducted every January since 2001, the enumeration provides a one-day snapshot of the number, demographics, and distribution of the region’s homeless individuals and families. COG produces an annual PIT report on the year’s enumeration results, trends, and programs serving homeless and formerly homeless people in the region.
In addition to short-term services such as emergency shelters, safe havens, and transitional housing, the PIT report also highlights programs targeted at helping individuals and families overcome homelessness permanently and achieve stability and self-sufficiency. Rapid rehousing programs are designed to quickly rehouse individuals and families experiencing homelessness due to economic crises through services such as housing identification, rent and move-in assistance, and case management services. Permanent supportive housing is aimed at helping the most vulnerable homeless persons by coupling immediate housing placement with much-needed wrap-around services such as substance abuse treatment, mental health services, job training, and case management. Together, these programs and services form the Continuum of Care, a system for organizing and delivering housing services tailored to the specific needs of homeless people.