Fairfax-Falls Church Community 10-Year Plan Update
The Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness has now been implementing its ending homelessness 10-Year Plan for four years. It is important to collectively and regularly review the plan and reflect back on where we started, the progress made, challenges experienced and areas where we have not been able to reach our goals. In addition, we will annotate initiatives that were not included in the original plan, and speak to how they have (and will) positively impact our efforts to prevent and end homelessness despite the increase in need we have seen in our community. We hope that this approach will foster transparency, effectively communicate the diligent work that has been done to prevent and end homelessness and allow for more and more data-driven decisions to be made as we move forward. Criticial highlights and information on the community plan will be provided over the course of the year through the Partner Update.
The Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership has been working diligently to collect and report data on key goals and indicators included in the 10-Year Plan. By placing priorities on rapid-rehousing, preventing homelessness, systems reforms and alignment, we have seen a reduction in the number of people who become homeless. In addition, one key goal we can now share is our community’s ability to reduce the number of individuals who become homeless for the first time.
On January 25, 2012, there were 1,534 who were literally homeless in the Fairfax-Falls Church community compared to 1,813 in 2007, which is a 15 percent decrease. In addition, during all of 2011, 2,982 people were identified as being homeless as compared to 3,076 who were found to be homeless in 2010.
The number of people who became homeless for the first time dropped 16 percent last year from a total of 1,639 people in 2010 to 1,376 in 2011. This significant progress in preventing homelessness was made possible laregely by including the support and investment of resources in the Housing Opportunity Support Team (HOST) model, which includes case management services in the community, as well as direct financial assistance to pay for rent and other basic housing expenses. The introduction of HOST teams was one of the first manifestations of how homeless services would be different under the 10-Year Plan.
See the Complete 2011 Fairfax-Falls Church Community Snapshot report and the 2012 Point-in-Time Count report, accompanied with the archived Point-in-Time Count reports, to view these figures and much more.
Preventing homelessness is not always possible. Fortunately we have gotten better at ending homelessness, as well. The number of people who moved to permanent housing from homeless programs increased by 48 percent last year, with 714 people moving to permanent housing in 2011 as compared to a total of 482 people in 2010. This achievement was made possible because of the partnership’s focus on building capacity in terms of what matters to housing stability – new housing opportunities and better trained staff. In fiscal years 2010 and 2011, more than 320 new housing opportunities were created via the partnership through the conversion of transitional housing units, new subsidies and other initiatives. The creation of the Fairfax-Falls Church Housing Locator Network meant the introduction of new HOST team members with specialized skills who were trained in how to engage landlords and find new housing options for those clients that had none. We are looking to replicate and build upon successful practices of moving individuals into appropriate stable housing.
An important part of the 10-Year Plan was to create a single point of access for homeless families to Housing Opportunity Support Team (HOST) services. At the beginning of 2011 a workgroup was tasked to redesign how homeless families would access services. It was widely recognized that access to shelter and services was a problem for homeless families because of a wait list that had grown to over 120 households. Shelters were also not being dedicated for those homeless families with the most significant housing barriers.
The workgroup designed a new set of policies and procedures that would ensure that those families who were homeless receive shelter quickly and increase prevention efforts for those families at risk of experiencing homelessness. Implemented at the end of March 2012, these new policies are triaging families for the most appropriate type of services based on their current housing status and needs, rather than treating everyone the same. Those families who are literally homeless should be able to access shelter quickly. Those deemed at risk of becoming homeless are referred to prevention services and put in contact with a community case manager. In the end, it is expected that these new policies will ensure more effective and efficient service delivery and a downward trend in the number of families going to shelter. We have begun measuring the length of time that it takes for homeless families to access shelter and other related services through this new system. This data will be used to ensure we are using our resources and shelter beds as effectively as possible.
This campaign is a national movement of communities working together to find permanent homes for 100,000 of the country’s most vulnerable and chronically homeless individuals and families. The Fairfax-Falls Church community is now participating in this campaign, which provides us with another collaborative opportunity to bring us closer to achieving our 10-Year Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. The key to our success is providing appropriate housing and critical services to keep these individuals in their homes; this will require the full engagement of government agencies, faith-based communities, businesses and nonprofit partners.
The Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness is leading an effort specifically for homeless Virginians called 1,000 Homes for 1,000 Homeless Virginians. Within Virginia, 13 communities have joined the initiative including our neighbors in Arlington. In the Fairfax-Falls Church community, the initiative is just getting started. Nine individuals from our community partnership attended the national training (Boot Camp) on August 20 and 21 in Kansas City, joining over 50 other attendees from as far as the Virgin Islands. Our community team had representatives from the Fairfax County Office to Prevent and End Homelessness, Department of Housing and Community Development, Health Department and the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, along with nonprofit providers from Volunteers of America-Chesapeake, Reston Interfaith, New Hope Housing and FACETS. This “Boot Camp” provided us with innovative and practical approaches to bringing this program and its success to our community.
We are currently organizing our teams and preparing to implement our local strategy and plans to get our most vulnerable and chronic population off the streets. Many of the communities across the country are combining their Point-in-Time surveys with Registry Week in January to better serve their most vulnerable and at-risk singles homeless population. This would include using a vulnerability index survey of the clients to identify those most medically vulnerable and at highest risk for death. This process would also streamline our efforts across the partnership using one vulnerability index survey prioritizing singles housing. Once our Registry Week is complete, housing and service opportunities will need to be lined up. This will be incredibly challenging as we, as a community, will need to prioritize limited housing resources. We will need to be creative in engaging new partners who will identify appropriate housing and financial resources.
We will be working through path problems within our systems to more readily have access to housing opportunities. The standard that all communities are working towards is housing 2.5 percent of this population every month to meet our eventual 10-Year Plan goal of ending homelessness for our most vulnerable populations. One of the great opportunities of the focused training was to have open access to so many other communities trying to accomplish the same goal – an example of what collective impact can do.
In future editions, we will continue to assess and report on the 10-Year Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. For more information, visit the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership on Ending Homelessness website or send an email.