More than 200 volunteers spread across Fairfax County last week and registered 462 chronically homeless people. The volunteers held a debriefing and presented a report of their findings on Monday at the Jubilee Christian Center in Fairfax.
Here's what they found:
- Nearly a quarter were between 18-34 years old
- The largest number of interviewees (151) live along the Route 1 corridor
- More than three-quarters of interviewees were male
- “Unable to pay rent/utilities” and “job loss” were by far the most cited reasons for homelessness
- Approximately half were employed
- 40 percent had a physical disability
- 10 percent were veterans
People who are chronically homeless must have lived on the street for more than one year or three times in the last four years.
"We learned that chronic homelessness comes in many forms for many reasons," said Pam Michell, Executive Director of New Hope Housing, "and each story is unique and each solution is unique but that all solutions require stable affordable housing and supports and people who care."
On Feb. 25, 26, and 27 the volunteers counted, photographed and collected the names and histories of the county's homeless for the first-ever Registry Week. The effort is part of the 100,000 Homes Campaign, which advocates offering housing to the homeless. Fairfax County has a 10-year plan to eradicate homelessness, and the findings of the study will used to make profiles of the homeless, and their progress on finding housing and services is tracked by the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership on Ending Homelessness.
Partners include FACETS, New Hope Housing, Pathway Homes, Reston Interfaith and Volunteers of America Chesapeake.
"I was amazed at how welcoming those we visited were, how willing they were to share their stories, and how appreciative they were for a cup of coffee, a sandwich and a $5 gift card," wrote a volunteer in the final report.