Outreach Services

Montgomery County Outreach Programs are committed to transforming the lives of individuals experiencing homelessness through comprehensive street outreach that restores dignity and partners with individuals to reach their housing and life goals. Using a collaborative approach to street outreach, providers within the Continuum of Care will be able to:

  • Identify, engage and assess individuals in need of services,
  • Refer and keep engaged individuals connected to services,
  • Report any changes to individual statuses, and
  • Document contact and collect needed documentation for referred programs and services.

These outreach goals are met by meeting people where they are in order to build relationships and by establishing creative community partnerships that eliminate barriers to services.  The goal is to provide housing to those who need it.  Based on vulnerability, persons are classified and connected to housing resources via the Coordinated Entry System (CES).

Frequently Asked Questions About Outreach Services

What should I do if I see an individual or a group of individuals who appear to be homeless?
If you observe individuals who appear to be homeless and in need of assistance, please contact the 24-hour Homeless Information Line at 240-907-2688 and speak with an outreach specialist.  You can also email outreach@montgomerycountymd.gov and request outreach assistance.  You should call 911 if the individual appears to pose an immediate risk to themselves or others or if there is criminal activity.

What happens when I call the Homeless Information Line to report a homeless person in need of assistance?

  1. The caller will be asked a series of questions to best locate the individual so an outreach worker can provide aid and/or other resources.
  2. The information will be provided to an outreach provider and an outreach team will be dispatched as soon as possible depending on day or time of call.
  3. Outreach teams attempt to locate the individual and if found, directly engage the person to assess for safety and encourage them to accept services and transition off the streets.
How do outreach teams engage a homeless person in need of assistance?
Experienced outreach teams from nonprofit service providers canvass all geographic areas of the county to identify and engage individuals who may be homeless and encourage them to accept services, and ultimately help them transition off the streets.  Additionally, Montgomery County performs joint outreach operations with community stakeholders and agency partners.

What services does Montgomery County provide to street homeless individuals?
Montgomery County operates facilities dedicated to serving street homeless residents.  Services include information regarding meal programs, clothing centers, shower facilities, referrals to shelters, housing and assistance with obtaining eligible benefits for income, food and heath services.

What happens if someone declines help from the outreach team?
Our teams continue to reach out to homeless individuals to offer services and help them come indoors however, accepting services is voluntary.  It can take months of persistent and compassionate engagement to successfully connect street homeless individuals with County services.  We remain committed in our efforts to engage them, proactively offering assistance and services, until we make the connection that will help them transition off the streets.

What is the difference between an encampment, pop-up and a hot spot?
An encampment is an outdoor location with a fixed, visible structure where two or more individuals gather, often under bridges or in remote areas.  When we clean encampments, we coordinate closely with county agencies, partners and stakeholders.
A pop-up location appears quickly and is usually temporary.  It includes some level of debris such as carts and cardboard.
hot spot is  a location where two or more homeless individuals are gathered without a structure.

Should I give money to panhandlers?
Montgomery County residents can most effectively support persons experiencing homelessness by donating to the nonprofit agencies that coordinate our outreach efforts across the county.  Our outreach teams are working to responsibly and compassionately develop more effective interventions for this population, including connecting these individuals, many of whom are not homeless, to appropriate County services.

How does the County know who is homeless and how to help?

Montgomery County's Continuum of Care (the local planning body that coordinates housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals) uses a specialized database to track the homeless population at large.  The outreach teams continue to build a list  of homeless individuals living on the streets, to directly and repeatedly attempt to engage homeless residents--offering supports that will ultimately encourage these individuals to accept services and come indoors.  The outreach teams also evaluate their living situations and determine whether they are homeless, as well as determine what specific supports they may need.

Homeless Information Line Flyer ( pdf)