Family PASS offers a helping hand.
Those of us privileged to live in Fairfax County may not see the poverty that is here. Some of your neighbors are struggling. They work at your grocery store, they cook and serve you meals, they clean your homes, they are our daycare and eldercare workers, they are construction workers and landscapers. They work in your offices, perhaps as a mailroom worker, receptionist, or doorman. They are your child’s classmates. We ask you to become aware of them, respect them, and help us help them.
What we do is reflected in our name: Family Preservation and Strengthening Services. At Family PASS, our focus is on helping these working families who are at risk of homelessness, the working poor of Fairfax County. We believe that every family has the right to a safe and stable home.
Our goal is to help families stay together, avoid eviction, and continue working to end the cycle of chronic financial stress and housing instability. We provide emergency rental assistance to stop evictions and work with the family as a partner in change. As we work together with our clients, we provide case management services that include transportation, childcare, and education/job skills opportunities.
Our families are people who cannot make ends meet consistently, even while working two or more low-wage jobs. In Fairfax County, over half of the homeless adults are working. They are struggling against low pay and high housing costs. County officials estimate a person earning the minimum wage would have to work more than 122 hours a week to afford adequate housing in Fairfax County.
A small crisis or major expense is all it takes to push a low-wage family into homelessness. Just one lost paycheck from reduced work hours, an illness, or a broken car can mean the difference between having a home or being evicted. In this time of COVID-19, the choice between paying next month’s rent or not has become a real crisis that many more families are facing.
The impacts of becoming homeless can be devastating for children. They can suffer the loss of their schools, friendships, and belongings. Children may even be separated from their parents. Their sense of security is shaken. We know that homeless children struggle more academically. Becoming homeless is a form of trauma that has the potential to negatively impact a child’s development, as well as their physical health, for years to come. In Fairfax County, 7.8% of children, or over 21,000, are living in poverty.
Family PASS works hard to stop eviction before it happens and to help the parents set goals that will put them on a path to a living wage and economic stability. Whether for a few months or a couple of years, Family PASS works to prevent a working family from losing their home. We are proud of the work we do at Family PASS to keep families together. We hope you will join our efforts.
Debi Sutton, MSW