Volunteers Conduct City’s First Comprehensive Baltimore Homeless Census

Special to the Chronicle

On Thursday, April 24, the first all-encompassing count of homeless people in the city's history was conducted by over 100 volunteers. They interviewed homeless people in various locations throughout Baltimore, including emergency shelters, transitional housing, and on the streets.

The volunteers came from a wide array of churches, organizations, and communities (among them were some homeless representatives). They shared a common goal, according to the Center for Poverty Solutions, which organized the event along with the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services: to improve the plight of the homeless.

The data collected will be used to determine the size, characteristics, and needs of Baltimore's homeless population, which will allow community advocates and city leaders to better understand what services Baltimore's homeless use, and what is still needed. The census may also provide information the city can use to attract more funding to serve the homeless.

Funding for the project was provided by the Maryland Veteran's Administration, the State of Maryland, and Associated Black Charities (ABC). Nextel donated cellular phones for the volunteers use on the night of the census.

This census—the first of its kind in Baltimore—does not just count the homeless, but also—through the interview—has “given them a voice in clearly stating to city leaders where the gaps are in services,” according to Alma Roberts, CEO of the Center for Poverty Solutions. "It is our hope that this Homeless Census becomes an on-going method for assessing the status of our most vulnerable citizens," she stated.

A final report detailing the key findings from the Homeless Census will be released this summer.

The Office of Homeless Services (OHS) is a division of the City of Baltimore’s Department of Housing and Community Development. It oversees the development and implementation of the Baltimore City Continuum of Care for those at risk of, and those experiencing, homelessness.

The Center for Poverty Solutions is a statewide non-profit organization focused on the eradication of poverty by fostering self-sufficiency for those living in poverty, including the working poor. The Center's publications, "Helping People Off the Streets: Real Solutions to Urban Homelessness" (1998) and "Barriers to Stability: Homelessness and Incarceration's Revolving Door in Baltimore City" (2002) are defining research on the issues relevant to homelessness in Baltimore. For more information, contact Sarah Zambon at 410-366-0600 or

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This story was published on May 13, 2003.