- POLICY ACTIVATIONS
Helping Hands is pleased to present this multimedia video project, produced by Momenta Workshops, which highlights FACETS and the impact their organization has made on their client, Susan Wells. FACETS was one of 10 nonprofits chosen to be featured in Momenta’s Project DC 2012, a week-long training program which pairs emerging photographers with local nonprofits who are making a difference throughout the metropolitan region. Susan’s compelling story underscores the need for a comprehensive range of programs and services to support individuals and families in need of safe and affordable housing. Founded in 1988, FACETS is a nonprofit organization that touches and improves the lives of thousands every year through the provision of emergency shelter, food, and medical services to homeless families and individuals. Through FACETS’ critical support, people gain safe, sustainable and permanent housing and end the cycle of poverty through educational, life skills and career counseling programs.
This fourth article in the five-part series was recently posted and talks about how the Washington metropolitan area can provide housing options for its growing workforce. Read part 1, part 2, and part 3 here. These articles examine the many factors that challenge housing development for the region including: continued job growth and housing demand; escalating housing costs as wages remain flat; lack of coordinated planning and adequate resources from jurisdictions to address housing; and impact to the economic well-being of the region;
Aging but active baby boomers, as well as the generations before them, are creating new opportunities and challenges for the U.S. housing industry, in terms of meeting the diverse lifestyle needs of people in various phases of their senior years, according to a new publication from ULI.
Read more about the report here: http://bit.ly/OILWaD
The Washington Post reports that the number of homeless school children in the Fairfax County public school system is likely to surpass 2,500 by the end of this school year. School officials say that homelessness effects children in all grades from kindergarten through high school, and at least 400 of these students are ‘unaccompanied youths’ who live without parents or guardians. This is a disturbing statistic in light of the fact that 2011 American Community Survey data identifies Fairfax County as the second wealthiest county in the United States with a median income of $106,000.
How did this happen? Fairfax County has taken some positive steps to end homelessness.
What has been the outcome of these actions?
Modest gains have been achieved through the alignment of existing housing resources (principally the federal housing choice voucher program) with the goals identified in the Blueprint. Some scattered site housing has been made available to serve extremely low income households with disabilities. In addition, housing locators have made good progress with landlords in securing housing for homeless or at risk households who might have otherwise been unable to secure rental housing due to credit history or a spotty employment record. But the root problem is the shortage of affordable housing options for households in Fairfax County making less than 50% of the area median income.
What can be done?
Homelessness is a reality throughout Northern Virginia, not just in Fairfax County, and as indicated here, the County has taken some positive first steps, but much more needs to be done. The challenges to providing affordable housing and addressing growing homelessness are significant, and the County has acknowledged their role in addressing the issue and identified ending homelessness as a priority. Now we ask that Fairfax consider the appropriate level of funding for this priority and include it in their FY2014 budget, because in the second wealthiest county in the country, over 2,000 school children should not be homeless.
A unique partnership between Arlington County and the Arlington Community Foundation, in collaboration with Arlington nonprofits, will provide housing and services to some of the county’s most vulnerable homeless persons. This is a key strategy for implementation of the Arlington County 100 Homes Campaign. This campaign is part of a larger, statewide initiative 1,000 Homes for 1,000 Homeless Virginians, led by the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness. With the Department of Human Services and Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, 83 individuals have been identified in greatest need and efforts are underway to provide housing and supportive services. Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) announced their participation in this initiative by providing 10 apartments at very low rents. The partnership will provide $1 million to underwrite rents of $556 per month for households earning no more than 30% of area median income. The units will remain affordable at this level for the next 30 years. Additional funds will create a Rental Reserve to further reduce rents for persons coming out of homelessness.