Raven Homelessness

Raven is a local mother featured in the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties' Faces of Need campaign. In the campaign, Raven talked about the issue of homelessness. 

Loudoun County has seen a dramatic rise in homelessness over the past year, according to a new report from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

The Homelessness in Metropolitan Washington survey, which featured a point-in-time count from earlier this year, found that the number of Loudoun households experiencing homelessness increased 18.5 percent from 2017 to 2018. Additionally, there was a 21 percent increase in the number of single adults experiencing homelessness and a 36 percent increase in the number of families.

The Loudoun County figures buck the regional trend, with the report showing an overall decrease in the number of households experiencing homelessness in the D.C. region.

The annual point-in-time count provides a single-day snapshot of a community’s homeless population as well as households that may be on the brink of becoming homeless, according to county officials. The count was coordinated locally by the Loudoun Continuum of Care, a community group of public, nonprofit and faith-based organizations that provide services to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The Continuum of Care along with partner organizations conducted the annual count on Jan. 24 through manual surveys completed by staff at partnering organizations and staff from the Loudoun County Department of Family Services.

According to the report, 134 people were experiencing homelessness in Loudoun County during the 2018 count. Of those, 86 were in single-adult households and 15 were identified as family households. There were 27 children and 21 adults represented in the 15 family households.

On the night of the count, nine households were found unsheltered in Loudoun, and they were connected with resources to help them.

A bright spot in the survey found homelessness among county veterans decreased by 16 percent compared to 2017.

Pinpointing and counting the homeless population – both in Loudoun and beyond – is known to be a challenge given the fluidity in the lives of those involved.

“They didn't surprise me,” Donna Fortier, CEO of Mobile Hope, said about the numbers in the report. She added that the statistics “certainly don't capture the true number of homelessness.”

Mobile Hope, a nonprofit that supports children and young adults who are precariously housed, homeless, or at risk, living in Loudoun, estimates there are as many as 2,000 “precariously housed” children living in the county, quoting a statistic that was gathered with the aid of Loudoun County Public Schools.

Fortier said while the homelessness figures “may not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things, it's certainly a lot for the wealthiest county in the country.”

County Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) said she doesn't necessarily think homelessness is on the rise in Loudoun, but rather that the methods for counting and researching local people who are homeless have improved.

Randall praised the county's new director of family services, Glenda Blake, for raising awareness about the issue.

“The results of the point-in-time count will help inform our decision-making for specific types of housing needs and areas of program development,” Blake said. “This will include community outreach to raise public awareness of the services we offer to help prevent homelessness.”

Randall, Fortier and Amy Owen, executive director of the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties, all agreed homelessness in Loudoun – like hunger and a lack of charitable giving – is partly a problem of awareness.

Because Loudoun is an affluent area with a high household income, people aren't always aware of societal problems within the county, the chairwoman said.

“If you don't live it, you don't see it,” Fortier added. “People really need to do their due diligence, meet with organizations, spread awareness. People still don't believe we have this problem in Loudoun County, but it is a problem.”

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Anyone who may be experiencing a housing crisis is encouraged to contact the county's Department of Family Services at 703-777-0353 or visit www.Loudoun.gov/index.aspx?NID=1788 . More information is also available at www.MobileHope.org and www.VoaChesapeake.org.

(10) comments

amerigirl

I have to wonder if pay stagnation and the high price of daycare have something to do with it. So many jobs only want to pay as much as it cost to get childcare.

Lawman

Put a 25% tax on guns and bullets and used that money for housing.

loudoun fan

Enough with the Republican bashing. It's simply wrong. It's not a matter of spending more money. We spend plenty. We have many services for people in all parts of the economic spectrum. A shelter itself doesn't need to offer the services discussed by Mark. The shelter is just one part of the solution. Loudoun County Department of Family Services has a plethora of services to help people get back on their feet. Just last week, in conjunction with record expungment day, Family Services brought many of the organizations they work with to the library to get in front of as many people as possible. The JDC partners with LCPS to educate the kids. The library send the book mobile to the JDC and ADC twice a month to get reading materials in the hands of the inmates. The section 8 program offers to pay for someones housing. So, before you go saying the county doesn't do anything and it's all the republicans fault, get educated on the subject.

AFF

Wow- twice a month the inmates get to read books? Forgive me for not seeing your point whatsoever.

Marc G, I give you example #1 (of many to be found on this forum) of a person who doesn't want tax payer monies whatsoever to help people attain self-sufficiency. Loudoun 'Fan' thinks shelters don't need to offer the services you describe in order to help a family back on its' feet. In his world the Loudoun Country Health Department and Department of Family Services have all the funds it needs to serve Loudoun's needy. Whereas after reading your OPEDs I'm pretty sure you know differently.

This cat doesn't even want to help people who have a chance of becoming productive taxpaying members of our community. I wonder what he proposes for people clearly incapable of such? Maybe the bookmobile can pick up the slack?

LF, I'm well aware of the good work done by the County and by charities. But don't delude yourself that 'we spend plenty' or that all the needed help is available . Sit down with Dr Goodfriend sometime- let him tell you first hand of the financial challenges facing the Health Department.

The poor and the homeless do not have health care in Virginia because of Republicans. (which will be taken care of TODAY by Democrats and a few others who see the writing on the wall)

Reagan's budgets closed most of our mental institutions- they live on the street now... and Flint still doesn't have clean water.

*mike drop


Matthew

AFF, money is not at issue, there are numerous programs existing at the federal, state, and local levels. However, since you chose to politicize this, do you realize the alt-left solution in the Seattle metro area is to spend greater than $1 billion each and every year on an estimated 11,643 homeless people? That comes out to $85,888 every year for each one of them and their problems continue to deteriorate. This would mean they spend more on a homeless couple than the median household salary in LOCO. Think about that when you criticize people simply for wanting our county to be fiscally conservative. Seattle would be better off just giving them all an annual stipend of $85,888. It would certainly be better economically for the city. I don't carry water for politicians on either side, but from a fiscal perspective, I want them to be good stewards of my (our) money.

AFF

Apples and oranges Holmes. Seattle isn't merely combatting homelessness- they're trying to do something about affordable housing- granted, a contributor to homelessness in uber expensive regions like Seattle where many households pay half their income towards rent. So, no Seattle wouldn't be better off just cutting checks to their homeless population. They're trying to figure out how to affordably house the workers a thriving city depends on to grow 'cause they can't all be tech millionaires. (though you bring up the interesting concept of a guaranteed wage)

Go on and look into what's available for a homeless person in Loudoun- food stamps (if you're able to have an address to receive mail and capable enough to follow the process through) and perhaps a bed for a night. Look into what's available 'cause it ain't much. Health care- nope, mental health care- nope. And yes, one party constantly proposes taking already inadequate funds and instead spending it on feeding the poor wants to spend it on drug tests so to make sure the poor are worthy enough to be fed. Drug testing programs are very expensive to implement and run and they're usually championed by the people who don't believe government is capable enough to pave the roads or run schools. Imagine for a second being denied housing, health care, or food stamps because of a false positive on a drug test?

Lastly, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a taxpayer that doesn't want the government to be good stewards of taxpayers' monies. In fact, find me one person who pays taxes that doesn't think some of their contributions are A) wasted and B) financing something they find morally objectionable. Good luck.

Lastly, I'd gently suggest that the next time we're talking about homelessness in Loudoun we talk about Loudoun, not a city 2700+ miles to our west.

Buffacuse3

Another scare headline from LTM and their alarmist-in-chief. "On the brink" An "18.5% increase"...oh no...we better spend a lot of taxpayers' money to fix this right now!

Except, of course, if you keep reading, you see the overall number of homeless is 134...yes, unfortunate for those poor folks, but works out to about 0.00034744% of Loudoun's population. C'mon folks...stop the alarmist headlines and hype and report the ground truth--Loudoun's homeless issue is miniscule.

Mark Gunderman

Homeless shelters must work intimately with those challenged with what may be the most difficult burden of their lives and provide them a step by step approach to ending their crisis and finding a way to again be a stable, self-sufficient family or individual with permanent housing. This can be accomplished while providing temporary or transitional housing.

A Self-Sufficiency Program recognizes that some needs must be met before others can even be addressed. Physical, emotional and intellectual needs as well as medical concerns, mental illness or substance abuse, must be dealt with before any person can reach their full potential. In fact, not dealing with them makes success for attaining the next steps almost impossible.

Shelters must provide guests with much more than just shelter, food, and clothing. Every person or family served requires access to the following services: crisis intervention referrals, spiritual guidance, financial responsibility classes, life-skills & parenting education, work-training referrals and case management & counseling. This broad array of services and support all aim to achieve one common goal: sustained self-sufficiency. A strategy for guaranteeing this is dual: (1) transition guests back into the mainstream workforce/classroom, while simultaneously (2) making the most of the time they spend in the shelter by training, counseling, and otherwise preparing them for independence in order to drastically reduce their chance of relapse into a previous undesirable type of behavior.

AFF

Mark, I don't disagree with anything you've penned but I see a disturbing amount of our populace (cough cough most republicans) being unwilling to pay for such. How do we get these people to realize that 1) helping people off the streets is in their interest, and 2) that quite a few people will be unable to ever hold jobs and pay taxes? Do we really want to have people begging in the streets so we can be all righteous about our own trials? Do we really want to pretend there isn't a role for government and instead charities will fill this need? Are we really going to continue the republican fantasy that feeding these people in the short term will make them unable to help themselves in the long term? Ask around because I suspect that the political circles that you travel in you won't be hard pressed to find such sentiment.


Self sufficiency is wonderful goal for those who are capable of such, but I see plenty of broken souls who will never get there. I still want to feed, shelter and clothe these people and I believe it's in our interest to do so. Yet (again, the GOP) would rather spend money on drug testing than food stamps. They'd rather put very costly to monitor and kinda random work requirements on people before they give them health care. We all know, especially in this region that if you're capable of working there's probably work for you (not that you could live off the wages).

The sooner we accept that self sufficiency isn't a reasonable goal for many of these people the sooner we can actually help them.

dlbriggs

Homelessness is on the rise everywhere despite official reports such as those from the Washington, DC metropolitan area. While point in time counts are useful as snapshots from year to year, they are always an undercount. People who are living in vehicles, couch surfing, living in motels are examples of those who are rarely, if ever, counted.

If the County Health department or the state agency who administers SNAP tracks (self-reported) homelessness, then the numbers will be closer to accurate; but, still likely an undercount.

As for the assertion that the reporting methods may have improved and are the major factor in the increases, I suggest this is the state of denial indentified in the last paragraph.

Properly identifying the scope of the issue is definitely necessary to finding solutions.

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