Families and individuals experiencing or at-risk of homelessness received vital services at the event
Yesterday, United Way of Central Maryland hosted its second annual Project Homeless Connect in Harford County. United Way gathered more than 50 local organizations and more than 200 community volunteers to aid more than 450 individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Harford County. United Way’s Project Homeless Connect is a national best practice event replicated in over 300 cities across the nation.
United Ways in Maryland recently released the ALICE® Report, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. The report found that 34 percent of households in Harford County either live in poverty, or qualify at or below the ALICE threshold. Harford County’s “survival budget” of $68,880 for a family of four is more than twice that of the Federal Poverty Level ($23,344). Unfortunately, ALICE households are living paycheck to paycheck — most often with nothing left over for an unexpected emergency such as an illness, car repair or job loss that could cause them to lose their home.
“The report indicated that our work to help families and individuals at risk of homelessness is vital to Harford County and all of the communities we serve,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO of United Way of Central Maryland. “It brought to light the many challenges that nearly 24,000 households in Harford County face on a daily basis, and underscores the importance of events like Project Homeless Connect to provide much-needed support to those who are struggling.”
Each of the 200 volunteers at Tuesday’s Harford County Project Homeless Connect event was matched one-on-one with an adult or family and helped guide them to critical services they needed the most. This year’s event featured an onsite dental clinic, which offered cleanings, fillings and extractions to 64 patients over the course of the day — twice the number served last year. In addition to the dental clinic, on-the-spot critical services were available ranging from housing information and employment programs to haircuts, legal services and identification cards. There were also 111 vision screenings completed and 81 eyeglasses prescribed to individuals during the event.
“Our dental clinic at the event was designed to serve the population of Harford County individuals that are in grave need of dentistry. We served a lot of patients for extractions, fillings and people that haven’t had an opportunity to have dental care in years,” said Dr. John Farrugia of White Marsh Family Dentistry, who managed the dental clinic at the event. “The best part of Project Homeless Connect is that everybody who’s volunteering is excited to be here and the patients could not be any nicer. We’re hopeful that next year we can make our dental clinic even bigger.”
This year’s event would not have been possible without the support of our generous sponsors, including Harford Mutual, Harford County Government, The Dresher Foundation, Jones Junction, VMG, Healthy Harford and Toyota.
Last year, 400 individuals and families received services that were critical putting them back on the path to self-sufficiency.
About United Way of Central Maryland
For more than 90 years, United Way of Central Maryland has been empowering families to become self-sufficient by focusing on the building blocks of a better life: education, employment, housing and health. Family Stability is at the heart of this work, which includes helping children be successful in school so they graduate with a bright future; ensuring individuals, children and families have a safe, affordable place to call home; helping people find stable employment that brings in enough income to cover the basics and ensuring our neighbors in need have access to healthy, nutritious food and healthcare. The organization also concentrates on helping the area’s ALICE® community, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed and describes individuals and families who work hard but still cannot afford basic necessities because of the state’s high cost of living. United Ways in Maryland released an ALICE report which revealed that more than a third of Maryland households — nearly 750,000 — either live in poverty, or qualify at or below the ALICE threshold. All this work is supported by the 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline, a 24-hour, 7-day a week service that provides information and referrals on a variety of health and human service issues to individuals. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the program has provided answers for more than 100,000 calls for help in the last fiscal year. United Way is improving lives in central Maryland communities, but no one can create change alone. That’s why United Way of Central Maryland is encouraging individuals to get their friends, colleagues and others involved, to do more in the community and help more families in central Maryland. Together, United Way of Central Maryland, its supporters and its volunteers can empower more families in the communities it serves: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard Counties and Baltimore City. To learn more about the United Way of Central Maryland, visit www.uwcm.org.