One family’s experience inspired the founding of Family PASS. The family—a young woman we’ll call Sylvia and her two children—were staying in one of Fairfax County’s temporary housing facilities when Suezette Steinhardt, an employee there, met them.
Without additional education and job skills training, Sylvia faced the risk of becoming homeless and—inevitably—unemployed once again. Suezette and her husband Allan rented a townhouse for Sylvia. Based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines, Sylvia paid 31 percent of her income toward housing and utilities, and the Steinhardts subsidized the rest.
A few months after housing Sylvia, Suezette began working full time on developing the Family PASS program based on best practices and tailored to the problems facing families in Fairfax County. At first, neighborhood volunteers donated enough to provide a $600-$800 monthly rent subsidy to three families.
In one year, Sylvia and her children, our first program participants, received permanent affordable housing through the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority, often referred to as FCRHA. This would not have been possible if she had become homeless and unemployed because FCRHA guidelines require full-time employment for its housing programs.
Being in the Family PASS program helped Sylvia remain at her job, and after three years there, she received promotions and pay raises. The young woman knew her future depended on further education and training, so she also attended Northern Virginia Community College at night to complete her Associates in Arts degree. That’s an accomplishment that would have been impossible without stable housing, which allowed Sylvia to maintain the forward momentum initiated in the transitional housing program.