Meeting the Moment: Taking Action on Homelessness and Affordable Housing in Montgomery County
A message from our President and CEO, Emma Hertz:
As we enter a new calendar year, we have a fresh opportunity to address a persistent challenge in Montgomery County- the experience of homelessness by far too many of our neighbors, and the lack of housing that’s affordable to middle- and lower-income households.
Despite our best efforts, homelessness is growing. Every pocket of the county is experiencing increased numbers of families, children, and individuals who are living outdoors, regularly couch-surfing, or otherwise housing unstable.
However, our community is struggling to find momentum for the kinds of solutions that will truly address the heart of this crisis, and struggling to build the public and political will to embrace housing policies that would support sustainable, long-term solutions to homelessness and housing instability.
At HealthSpark Foundation we believe that the immensity of these challenges means we need to come together more than ever, to find a common path forward that pairs a positive tone with practical, doable strategies.
On Monday, February 12th, we invite you to join HealthSpark Foundation and Your Way Home for a fresh start to the conversation on how we as a community can meet the moment on the crisis of homelessness and affordable housing in Montgomery County.
Grounded in practicality, and bolstered by a shared desire for a Montgomery County where everyone can thrive, we invite you to join this conversation with the goal of creating a space for candor, pragmatism, courage, and patience. We recognize that no conversation will solve the challenges overnight. Rather, we hope to lift up the good work being done across the county, sharing strategies that are working and celebrating successes where they’re happening. We hope to create space where leaders who have questions can find answers, where those who are doubtful can find reassurance, and where those who are out of hope can find inspiration.
The challenges we face are extensive, but we know that with committed leadership, aligned education and advocacy, and a willingness to follow words with action, we can make real progress in the work to end homelessness in Montgomery County in 2024.
This event is intended for:
- Health and human services providers interacting with homeless individuals
- Municipal/ borough leadership and township managers addressing issues related to homelessness and affordable housing in their own communities
- Elected officials and staff interested in learning more about local experiences and potential policy solutions
- Funders seeking to learn more about specific opportunities to support vulnerable populations in Greater Philadelphia
- Government officials and administrators seeking to connect community need to policy changes or opportunities
- Faith leaders, residents, and community advocates interested in taking action on homelessness and housing instability in their neighborhood
Community of Practice is free to attend. We hope you will join us. Please register here.
Please see below for further information on the content for the day, including breakout session descriptions and panelist information.
- Emma Hertz, President, CEO, HealthSpark Foundation
- Commissioner Jamila H. Winder, Chair of the Board of Commissioners, Montgomery County
- Commissioner Neil Makhija, Vice Chair of the Board of Commissioners and Chair of the Board of Elections, Montgomery County
- Commissioner Thomas DiBello, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners
The Current View: State of Homelessness and Housing
We are kicking off our morning to establish a foundational understanding of the current state of affordable housing and homelessness in Montgomery County and Pennsylvania. This discussion will include local insights and data, as well as offer strategies for making the immediate and long-term changes needed to address this important issue. Moderated by HealthSpark’s President and CEO Emma Hertz, our speakers Mark Boorse, Director of Program Development at ACCESS Services; Kayleigh Silver, Administrator at Montgomery County Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Housing and Community Development; and Stacie Reidenbaugh, President and CEO of 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania will guide us through this important conversation.
Lunch and Learn: Re-envisioning the Narrative of Homelessness
Perceptions of homelessness and affordable housing have a tremendous impact on the ability to make progress on improving housing security. The media, advocates, and elected officials all play a role in shaping- and potentially changing- narratives and community perception. Join experts in the field to learn about how they are reframing narratives on homelessness and affordable housing, and how you can bring these skills and strategies into your own work. Featuring Sarah Glover, VP of Civic and News Dialogue at WHYY and Brian McShane, Metro Team Associate Director for Pennsylvania and New Jersey at CSH, the Source for Housing Solutions. Moderated by Monique Curry-Mims, Principal and Editor at Civic Capital and Generocity.
Managing Resource Scarcity and Prioritizing Your Mental Health
Front-line service providers play a vital role in assisting homeless or at-risk households. At the forefront of this work, it is essential to prioritize mental health while tackling the challenges of limited resources for housing and shelter. We encourage you to join this session to learn how to navigate these complex situations mindfully and effectively.
Panelists: Debra Curtin, Senior Director, Housing and Homelessness at ACCESS Services; Tom Niarhos, Executive Director of Pottstown Beacon of Hope; and Preshuis Williams, Founder and President of Rahab's Hope
Faith Communities: Leading the Way in Partnerships to Help the Homeless
Have you heard about the strong partnerships being built in faith communities in Montgomery County to help the homeless? Faith communities and nonprofits can be a powerful duo when it comes to building a holistic, person-centered community response to homelessness. Hear from three leaders taking charge and what opportunities are present that will keep these new relationships moving forward.
Panelists: Reverend Carolyn Cavaness, Pastor of Bethel AME Church of Ardmore; David Eckert, Senior Director of Intersect at ACCESS Services; and Marsha Eichelberger, Executive Director of Family Promise Montco.
Roundtable: How Do We Create and Preserve More Affordable Housing?
Affordable housing is a crucial issue, but are we giving it enough attention? In this discussion, three individuals working towards the cause will share their experiences and efforts in ensuring that more of Montgomery County's citizens will have a place to call home. The session will explore ways in which municipalities, banks, residents, and others can contribute towards creating and preserving affordable housing. Attendees will also have opportunity to ask questions and provide their own insights and ideas.
Panelists: Kim Krauter, Director of Development at The Walters Group; Jerome Mitchell, Executive Director at Willow Grove Community Development Corporation; and Aliyah Stanger, Executive Director of Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority.
Getting Involved: How to Engage in Homelessness and Housing Legislative and Advocacy Efforts
You’re here because you care. Ready to advocate? There are several statewide and local advocacy efforts awaiting your participation. Hear from four leaders paving the way, creating community trust, and making it easy for people to engage.
Panelists: Phyllis Chamberlain, Executive Director of Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania; Kristyn DiDominick, Executive Director of Bucks-Mont Collaborative; Mike Hays, Co-director of Montco 30% Project; and Stacie Reidenbaugh, President and CEO of 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania
Problem-Solving Legal Issues Impacting the Homeless and How to Build Collaboration between Entities that Could Help
Without safe, legal spaces to be, people experiencing homelessness often interact with police. The rise in homelessness nationally has also prompted a number of legal cases at the local, state, and federal level. Learn about the rights of homeless individuals and about how some police are finding new means of addressing homelessness through partnerships with community-based organizations. Two distinguished leaders in these fields provide insight into the strategies that can be employed to tackle this challenge.
Moderated by: Sheldon Good, Director of Development and Strategic Direction at Manna on Main Street
Panelists: Chief Andy Block, Upper Moreland Police Department; Carolyn Johnson, Esquire, Chief Counsel at Legal Aid of Southeastern PA; and Alexis Moyer, Lansdale Police Department and Merakey
Navigating Difficult Discussions Centered on Homelessness and Affordable Housing Development in Municipal Settings, Public Meetings and Other Local Contexts
Building new affordable housing requires collaboration, education, and communication between residents, local leadership, developers, and others. Hear about three recent examples in Montgomery County where local leaders navigated through these challenging conversations and learn about strategies and lessons learned for others looking to start- or get back on track- similar projects in their own neighborhood.
Moderator: Scott France, Executive Director of Montgomery County Planning Commission
Panelists: Reverend Rebecca Kirkpatrick, Pastor at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church; Jarrett James Lash, Township Planner at Upper Merion Township; and Sandra Zadell, Township Manager of Upper Gwynedd Township
The Pivotal Role of Healthcare in Addressing the Homelessness Crisis
Homelessness can have a significant impact on an individual's health. Homeless individuals often lack access to healthcare services, which can exacerbate underlying health conditions and lead to new health problems. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, chronic disease is more common among the homeless than in the country’s general population. Learn how the right healthcare services can make a difference, including Pottstown Hospital’s Street Medicine Program and Mobile Integrated Health (MIH) efforts.
Panelists: Casey Fenoglio, Director of Community Engagement at Pottstown Hospital; and Dr. Alvin Wang, Chief Medical Officer & Regional EMS Medical Director for Montgomery County.
Discover: Nonprofit Repositioning Fund
The Nonprofit Repositioning Fund is a pooled funding collaborative effort among regional grantmakers to improve the capacity, effectiveness, and financial health of the Greater Philadelphia nonprofit sector. Hear how the NRF’s work and collaborations in Montgomery County are supporting people experiencing the homelessness and affordable housing crises, featuring the College Student Basic Needs Program and TriCounty Community Network.
Panelists: John Kepner, Senior Project Advisor, College Student Basic Needs Program; Lindsay Kijewski, Director, Nonprofit Repositioning Fund; and Holly Parker, Executive Director, TriCounty Community Network