MDOT MVA Outreach and Mobile Bus Units and MOHS Emergency Services staff hosted three on-site events in December at emergency shelters in Baltimore. Working in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 safety guidelines, staff met with about 60 program participants and processed their Maryland ID card applications.
“It’s critical for our state and local agencies to work together to do everything we can to help families facing homelessness,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “MDOT MVA plays an important role in this process, and I applaud the frontline workers at both MOHS and the MVA for coming up with a creative way to advance these services even under COVID-19 restrictions.”
Normally, participants start the ID card application process with outreach staff and are then directed to visit the nearest MDOT MVA branch to get their photo taken and complete the process. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions and the cost associated with traveling to a branch, MDOT MVA staff was able to take photos and complete the process onsite. Those members of the community now have a vital piece of personal documentation that’s an important link in the effort to obtain housing and other benefits, and secure employment.
“This partnership is life changing for many of those experiencing homelessness in our communities, as they now have a vital piece of personal documentation that is often a missing link in the effort to obtain housing and other benefits, and secure employment,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “I want to thank MDOT MVA for their work on this as we continue to work to eliminate homelessness in Baltimore.”
This initiative is one part of a broader anti-homelessness strategy for the Scott administration. In January, Baltimore City Rec and Parks and the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services announced a partnership to immediately increase access to emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness by converting two recreation centers into winter emergency shelters. The City has simultaneously continued the critical work to rapidly rehouse people experiencing homelessness. Since the start of the pandemic, MOHS has moved hundreds of people and families from temporary shelter to more permanent housing. The Mayor has been in conversation with homeless service providers and other stakeholders in search of greater partnership around an anti-homelessness strategy, one that acknowledges we have a shared responsibility to work together to address homelessness.
“One important way we support our neighbors experiencing homelessness on the journey to permanent housing is to help remove barriers to housing,” said Tisha S. Edwards, Acting Director of the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services. “This mobile outreach program streamlines the existing process for addressing a major housing barrier and accelerates the larger process of applying for city housing programs. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have transitioned 266 document-ready residents from shelters to permanent supportive housing. I look forward to being able to do that for many more individuals and collaborating with the MVA for an ongoing effort.”
“I am so proud of our MDOT MVA team for thinking outside of the box and combining two of our most customer friendly programs – our mobile outreach units and the ID application process – to benefit those who need it the most,” MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer said. “While COVID-19 has prevented us from doing as much outreach as we would like, Baltimore City provided a safe and effective environment for our staff to provide important identification documents to these customers. We look forward to continue to find creative ways to serve our customers during these challenging times.”
The MOHS-MDOT MVA partnership is part of the city’s emergency COVID-19 response. Based on the success of the December effort, the agencies will continue to work together to identify outreach opportunities to help serve individuals experiencing homelessness, including veterans and those living unsheltered.
“This partnership reminds all of us at MDOT that the services we provide touch the lives of every Marylander,” MDOT Secretary Greg Slater said. “We all share the goal of improving the lives of citizens, and this collaboration across agencies is an example of how we’re doing just that.”
For more information about MOHS programs, please visit Mayor's Office of Homeless Services (baltimorecity.gov). The centralized hotline for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness is 443-984-9540.