In Fairfax County, one of the nation’s wealthiest areas, homelessness is often hidden. But in 2015 more than 1,200 people in our community had no place to live in 2015. In 2016 that number was reduced to 1059.
Sadly, one-third of these are children, who are vulnerable to the cascading effects of being homeless: lagging behind in school, being isolated, missing out on friendships and social development, and not participating in sports and other activities.
Family PASS focuses on helping these children and their families, who make up 57 percent of the county’s homeless population. Among these families, 78 percent of the adults are female. One-third of people in homeless families left domestic violence, leaving children with an additional obstacle of having experienced or witnessed violence close up and personal.
All statistics are from the Fairfax-Falls Church Point-in-Time survey.
At Family Pass, our focus is on the working homeless, those people who cannot make ends meet even though they have full-time work or two or more jobs. In Fairfax County, about two-thirds of homeless adults are working. County officials estimate a person earning the minimum wage would have to work more than 122 hours a week to afford adequate housing here. Fairfax County Living Wage Calculator.
A small crisis or minor expense is all it takes to push a low-wage family into homelessness. Just one lost paycheck—when a boss schedules fewer hours or an illness causes a missed day—can mean the difference between being able to afford the next month’s rent or not. So can unexpected expenses, like a car repair or an increase in the cost of child care.
In some cases, short-term help is all that is needed. Sometimes, helping with bills for just a few months is enough to prevent a working family from losing their housing.