End of a Plan
by David Levine, President/CEO
In a little under two years, Fairfax County’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness will be coming to an end. Since its start in 2008, the Plan has helped to guide the delivery of services and affordable housing with the aim of reducing and ending homelessness.
You can find the whole Plan here: Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness
One element in the implementation of the Plan was the launch of Fairfax County’s Office to Prevent and End Homelessness (OPEH). OPEH has coordinated the local government’s responses to homelessness, as well as those of the many agencies and housing providers (including GSH) throughout the County.
At the OPEH Governing Board meeting this week, it was announced that a final report on the current plan will be drafted. It is clear that there have been more than a few successes.
For example, since 2008, the number of homeless persons has decreased 42 percent, representing 776 fewer persons who were homeless on one night in January 2016 than were homeless on one night in January 2008 (according to the HUD Annual “Point-in-Time” Count). In 2016, 1,059 persons were literally homeless on that one night in January, where 577 lived in families and 482 were single adults.
Moreover, since 2008, the infrastructure of the homeless services system has been truly revamped and developed in Fairfax County. The shelter system has been changed to one that offers triage and emergency aid, not housing and treatment. Priority has also been given to persons suffering from mental illness, substance abuse, or exposure to domestic violence.
All of these changes will continue to serve the community very well into the future.
Also, OPEH has begun to evaluate the development of a new ten-year plan. Toward that end, OPEH recruited George Mason University students to complete a survey of Fairfax County residents’ attitudes toward homeless persons.
This survey is very subjective and personal. I would ask each of you to take a couple of minutes to complete it. You’ll give very valuable (and anonymous) information to the student team and OPEH about the perceptions of homelessness.
Here is the link to the online survey (only a few questions): GMU Survey on Homeless Attitudes
Keep in mind that this is your view of the homeless population. Your answers will reflect your own interactions with homeless persons, as well as your impressions and understanding of them.
Your input will mean something. It will help to frame the new plan — so thank you for taking it.