“Your Way Home Montgomery County” Annual Summit Brings Together Nearly 200 Government, Philanthropy, Nonprofit, and Community Partners
Initiative Helped End Homelessness for 410 Residents in 2015; Summit Theme is “The Power of Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness”
Blue Bell, PA (June 22, 2016) – Montgomery County elected and public officials joined local philanthropic, nonprofit, business, and community partners today at the 4th Annual “Your Way Home Montgomery County” Summit at Montgomery County Community College. Your Way Home is Montgomery County’s coordinated housing crisis response system to end and prevent homelessness. The Your Way Home public-private partnership aligns leadership, resources, and funding across sectors to achieve a shared vision of making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring. The summit commemorated the progress in ending and preventing homelessness in Montgomery County over the past year, as well as an exploration of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Your Way Home proudly celebrated being the recent recipient of a prestigious U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary’s Award for Public-Private Partnerships, presented in partnership with the Council on Foundations.
Carolyn Mayinja, Interim Director of Montgomery County Housing and Community Development, and Russell Johnson, President and CEO of HealthSpark Foundation, kicked off the summit providing the welcome and opening remarks. Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Vice Chair Dr. Val Arkoosh described Your Way Home as a powerful example of the county’s commitment to consumer-driven, effective, and responsive human services. Arkoosh commented that because of Your Way Home, more families, children, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities, are getting Housing First, then services.
“We are focused on preventing homelessness before it starts by addressing the problem “upstream” where homelessness begins – by connecting more people to education, employment, and health opportunities,” said Arkoosh.
“What makes Your Way Home so powerful is how it has leveraged the private sector to support our public goal of ending homelessness,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale.
“Through our collaborative efforts with our community partners, including our service providers, our foundation grant makers, our landlords, and our volunteers, we improved the lives of 1,741 of our citizens and neighbors experiencing homelessness and connected them to the services they needed,” said Montgomery County Commissioners Chair Josh Shapiro.
The Summit’s keynote speaker, Steve Berg, Vice President for Programs and Policy at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, provided a national perspective on ending homelessness.
Following “Table Talk” breakout learning sessions with Your Way Home system leaders, endnote speaker Fred Karnas of the Kresge Foundation discussed philanthropy’s role in ending homelessness.
Three key members of the Your Way Home partnership received “Champion for Change” awards at the Summit, including landlord, Bob Larkin, street outreach provider, Zach Costello of Resources for Human Development, and funder, Meredith Huffman, Executive Director of the Genuardi Family Foundation.
The summit concluded with a Call to Action from Jason Alexander, Your Way Home Senior Policy Advisor, and Barbara O’Malley, Director of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services.
The Champion for Change Award recognizes the outstanding contributions of an individual working to end homelessness in Montgomery County who epitomizes the spirit of Your Way Home.
Bob Larkin- Your Way Home Landlord
Bob is a kind-hearted individual who recognizes that there is a need for collaborative support for many of Montgomery County’s residents. He is present in the lives of those who reside in his rental units and seeks to do his best to serve them as tenants and customers. He is knowledgeable about current trends in housing as well as the economic and resource challenges of families who come through the YWH program and he cares a great deal for those who otherwise may not have a place to call home. He is a true partner to ending homelessness in Montgomery County.
Zachary Costello- Your Way Home Street Outreach Coordinator
As a member of the street outreach team, Zach travels around the entire county to meet with people where they are located and uses humor to establish rapport. He treats people experiencing homelessness with dignity and respect. He cares deeply about the individuals served and has an understanding of the larger social issues that contribute to their situations, which help them to stop blaming themselves. Zach quietly keeps an eye on people experiencing homelessness and intervenes for their safety whether they know it or not. He serves as a navigator for Your Way Home, and has built close relationships with Your Way Home partners in order to provide better services to consumers.
Meredith Huffman- Your Way Home Philanthropic Partner
Meredith Huffman is the Executive Director of the Genuardi Family Foundation, a private foundation whose $1.3M in annual grant funding furthers the Foundation’s core values of family, community and hard work. She is also Vice Chair of the Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia (for whose ongoing support for Your Way Home we are grateful). Meredith is one of our most passionate and committed philanthropic champions, serving on our Your Way Home Leadership Council and helping to guide our new economic opportunity initiative. We are grateful for her time to the Foundation’s Board of Directors for their support