How GSH is Ending Homelessness in Fairfax through a Combination of Affordable Housing and Support Services
Today’s fair market value of an average two-bedroom apartment in Fairfax County is $1,750/month. That means, a family must have $70,000 in income for housing at this level. Good Shepherd Housing & Family Services (GSH) estimates that 10,000 households in Fairfax County are cost-burdened by their housing, meaning they spend more than 35% of their income on housing.
One small setback for a poor or working-class family – an illness, an unexpected automobile issue, or loss of work hours or employment – could mean the loss of housing. A single, small challenge for someone living paycheck to paycheck can quickly turn into a cycle of homelessness and create further and more significant barriers to affordable housing that are difficult to overcome.
For more than 40 years, GSH has helped end homelessness and enable self-sufficiency by providing affordable housing and emergency financial services to poor and working-class families and individuals in Fairfax County, Virginia. As a landlord managing over 80 affordable rental properties, GSH helps these vulnerable households with long-term, permanent affordable housing solutions. Once they are able to secure housing for clients, they provide them with support services to help them become more resilient.
Each client has a special story. For instance, one client GSH helped last year (we’ll call her Judy) had been employed as an educator with Fairfax County Public Schools for over fifteen years and was also holding down a second job. Her daughter, who has been studying to become a social worker lives with her during school breaks.
Unfortunately, Judy became displaced after her landlord foreclosed on his house, forcing her to move in with a relative. Sadly, her relative became ill and passed away, and Judy found herself with no place to live – giving her no choice but to live in her car and stay in different motels along Richmond Highway off and on for over a year. Following a referral to GSH, Judy is now living in a two-bedroom unit that she can afford on her income and there is room for her daughter to stay when she is home for breaks!
Last year alone, GSH helped more than 1,000 low-income working households and individuals like Judy who were either unstably housed or experiencing an episode of homelessness. GSH’s strategic plan, recently adopted by their Board of Directors, has a vision of adding 150 units to their current housing inventory of 53 owned units and 36 leased units, to help house more families in the region.
How Companies and Their Employees Can Help
Every little bit helps. GSH is incredibly grateful to the groups that support us in days of service where they volunteer and help upgrade our units to keep them nice. It helps save us money for larger needed repairs as well as the case management we provide to clients around budgeting and financial literacy. This past fall, HomeAid came in with Richmond American Homes and completely remodeled one of our units, putting in a new kitchen with all new appliances and upgrading all the bathrooms. You can see pictures and read about how they helped us at www.goodhousing.org/2016/12/02/an-old-home-a-new-look.
As GSH’s workplace giving partner, America’s Charities can help companies and their employees support GSH’s work through workplace giving campaigns, employee fundraising, volunteerism, Dollars-for-Doers, In-Kind Giving, matching gift campaigns and other employee engagement and philanthropic initiatives.
Below is an example of how companies can use America’s Charities powered by Causecast solution to rally employees around volunteering and donating to GSH in support of their 150 unit goal. Click here to request a demo and learn how we can help you do this.