Residents of Gaithersburg seek more affordable services, according to the Community Advisory Committee’s annual report, delivered Monday evening at City Hall.
Carol Martin, a member of the committee, told the mayor and city council at its Monday worksession that some of the community’s biggest challenges lie in finding affordable food, housing, child care services and health care.
The committee identified those needs through surveys, county and state reports, nonprofit reports and site visits over the past year.
Community Services Division Chief Maureen Herndon said staff at homeless shelters throughout the county have reported a higher number of incoming homeless people who are between the ages of 18 and 24. Gaithersburg does not have a homeless shelter within city limits.
“Consistently, at every single site visit ... they’ve talked about this concern for the safety of 18- to 24-year-olds,” Herndon said.
Council member Henry Marraffa said the city should stress the need for vocational training for young people who don’t choose to go to college after high school.
“We need to really push harder,” Marraffa said.
The committee’s future plans include evaluating the need for mental health services, especially for seniors at the Upcounty Senior Center in Gaithersburg.
Martin noted that according to the 2010 Census, 16 percent of Gaithersburg seniors are below the federal poverty level, compared with 6 percent at the county level.
Herndon said the city is currently funding case management work at The Oaks apartment complex in Olde Towne Gaithersburg, which houses a community of seniors.
Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz expressed his condolences for the family and friends of Julius Persensky, who served on the city council from 1980 to 1995. Persensky passed away on Saturday.
Katz said Persensky’s involvement with Gaithersburg persisted after his term as an elected official ended. Persensky was especially dedicated to the Wells-Robertson House, a transitional home for homeless men and women recovering from addiction.
“He remained tireless in his efforts to ensure that the residents were given every opportunity to become independent, sober, contributing members of the community,” Katz wrote in a statement.
Members of the Community Advisory Committee who were present at the Monday worksession noted that the committee’s progress and mission bore some hallmarks of Persensky’s work as a member, especially in assisting vulnerable or needy residents.
“Under his leadership, the committee stayed abreast of changing needs and made funding recommendations to ensure that the City’s safety net was as broad and effective as we could possibly make it,” Katz wrote.