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Unused SmarTrip cards find home with charity

  • Published in Local

WMATA SmarTrip CardUnused and unneeded SmarTrip cards with remaining balances have a new home at a Washington-based charity.

Since January 2017, Miriam’s Kitchen, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending chronic homelessness, has been running a program that repurposes unneeded SmarTrip cards for the homeless and low-income owners.

“After we had heard about the Women’s March and the volume of people that were coming, especially from out of town that needed to buy the SmarTrip card and wouldn’t really have a purpose for it after they were returning to their places of origin, it dawned on us that this would be a good way to get a valuable resource that our guests really need,” said Miriam’s Kitchen case manager Margaret Dominguez.

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“It’s Solvable . . .

  • Published in Local

Reaching out to the chronic homeless to find a solution

MPI 0021 1A homeless man sleeps on the pavement in Silver Spring. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  Oumou Cisse squatted down to speak with the homeless man resting by the Silver Spring Metro station. She identified herself as “street outreach” before asking him if he needed a new pair of socks.

Without making eye contact, the disheveled man tilted his arm awkwardly to accept the clean, white socks. Although he hadn’t said a word to Cisse, an outreach specialist at Bethesda Cares Inc. who often walks six miles a day around downtown Silver Spring, considered the brief encounter successful .

It’s all about building trust, Cisse and John Mendez, director of outreach and special projects at Bethesda Cares, explained. That’s why they keep an eye on those sleeping around the Silver Spring library, the Metro station, the recycling dumpsters, where the smell isn’t as strong as the trash dumpsters, and the numerous bus stop shelters and alleyways.

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County sets sights on ending homelessness

  • Published in Local

Montgomery County has set what it considers a very doable goal of providing housing for its 242 chronic homeless people and is committed to ending chronic homelessness within its borders by the end of this year.

In a community memorial service held outdoors in the Circuit Court Plaza on June 7, the new initiative called Inside, Not Outside, was announced.

County Administrative Officer Chuck Short explained that since the County’s homeless veterans have now been placed, it is time to focus on the chronically homeless, people who have been homeless for at least one year or have had at least four episodes of homelessness during the previous three years and have some problem or disability that needs a specific intervention, such as drug or alcohol addiction or illness.

Those who aren’t considered the chronic homeless have a specific, short-term, problem that forced them into the streets for a few months, including job loss or high medical bills.

Even if the County does provide housing — not just space in a shelter — there always will be new people ending up on the street or in a car, said Council member George Leventhal.

“We have to keep working on it every year,” he said. “People’s situations change all the time.”

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