HYATTSVILLE, Md. (DC News Now) — This week a non-profit group was in Hyattsville to encourage people to get off the streets and into shelters after Prince George’s County Police noticed more and more people were living in a field near University Blvd.
“This is a crisis in Prince George’s County with the homeless population. This is just one location up university boulevard corridor is many homes in the issues, see pleasant rolling capitol heights and it’s county-wide,” said Andre Gorge, founder of 1441 Inc.
The non-profit group is trying to make a difference. Volunteers said it’s not easy, but they won’t stop until more people have roofs over their heads.
“No one should have to live like these individuals are living over here you just wouldn’t just yourself so if we can change a life and saving life one day at a time, then that’s the important piece of right there,” said Gorge.
For the past two weeks, Gorge and other volunteers have visited the homeless camp to give them food and work to convince people to check into shelters. Each of them wears an orange hat to signify hope and joy, which are what they want to spread.
“It’s very, very sad, it’s very bad, and as though a lot of people need a lot of help out here,” said volunteer Michael Vaughn.
According to an annual report completed by the State of Maryland, Prince George’s County saw a 7% increase in the homeless population from 2020 to 2021. That figure is only for cases that were reported.
With D.C. recently closing down several homeless encampments, Gore believes the numbers will go up.
The biggest challenge the nonprofit faces is convincing people who are living on the streets to leave them.
“They shared with us and other organizations have come out here and said they were coming back and never come back. So we build that relationship. That’s what we’re going to be very consistent with coming out,” said Gore.
For volunteer Michael Vaughn, the mission is personal. He was homeless at one time.
“I can relate to this story. I was given an opportunity to change my life and make some different changes. So and this is my give back. Me trying to convince somebody to do what somebody’s done for me,” he said.
The non-profit group said they can’t do it alone — they need assistance from county leaders and the community.
“We need funding. We need operational space so we can help these individuals. Again, Prince George’s County is doing a great job, but there’s still a lot of work to be done with this homeless population here,” said Gore.