The city's housing commissioner will steer Baltimore's efforts to make homelessness rare and brief as chairman of the Journey Home's new advisory board.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is expected to announce Tuesday the new composition of the board to lead the city's plan to find housing for the thousands of men, women and children without permanent shelter.
The new board under Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano's leadership will convene on Jan. 16 to set new priorities for the Journey Home, Baltimore's 10-year plan to address homelessness adopted in 2008.
"Chronic homelessness in Baltimore, if you take a look at it and uncover the problem, you see that it is something that is solvable," Rawlings-Blake told The Baltimore Sun Monday.
Since the city adopted the Journey Home plan, a new 24-hour emergency shelter opened and 500 housing vouchers were devoted toward putting homeless families in permanent homes. But advocates worry the city hasn't moved aggressively enough.
The number of homeless is believed to be up since the recession, but an exact figure isn't known. A survey last year found 2,683 individuals, which is down from more than 4,000 counted in 2011.
Even though the survey — conducted in odd-numbered years — shows fewer homeless, city officials believe the actual number has remained somewhat steady since the recession. City officials believe enumerators double counted some homeless in 2011 and were unable to track all of the individuals without shelter in 2013.
As case management services improve through new citywide computer software, officials expect to get a better handle on exactly how much homeless live in Baltimore.
Rawlings-Blake said the single biggest improvement going forward is the hiring of Adrienne Breidenstine as the director of the Journey Home. Breidenstine started in the fall as the plan's first director.
"We're committed to the plan whether it takes 5 years, 10 years or 100 years," Breidenstine said.
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