Winter Is Coming: Fortify Your Shelters at #MACoCon

Attendees to the MACo Winter Conference session “Winter is Coming: Fortify Your Shelters for Frosty Weather” learned how local jurisdictions are utilizing year-round data collection and assessments to strengthen partnerships and collaborate on best practices to provide safety and warmth to the homeless. While these activities occur throughout the year, they are especially critical during cold weather months.

Heather Sheridan, the Director of Homeless Services for the Department of Human Resources started off the panel by providing data and background information from the 2016 Annual Report on Homelessness and discussing the work of the Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Heather Sheridan presenting data from the Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Heather Sheridan presenting data from the Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Next, Jodie Ostoich, Executive Director for Reach of Washington County, discussed faith based, low barrier sheltering. She discussed the safety net services such as cold weather sheltering, homeless services, and rapid rehousing, as well as the self sufficiency services such as case management, financial education, and open table, that her organization provides.

Carroll County Director of Citizen Services, Christine C. Kay,  and Community Preparedness Coordinator for MEMA, Jessica Nusbaum jointly presented on a pilot emergency preparedness program for the homeless population in Carroll County. They discussed the collaborative effort at work to implement plans for sheltering, communication, transportation, education, and emergency supply kits. The overall goal is to create a toolbox other jurisdictions can tweak and replicate.

The session was moderated by Carroll County Commissioner Stephen A. Wantz and held from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm on December 8.

The MACo Winter Conference was held December  7-9, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “An Ounce of Prevention.”