Faith Leaders and Community Partners Discuss Affordable Housing and Homelessness

More than 240 religious leaders, housing advocates, elected officials and others came together at the first Faith Communities Housing Engagement on June 1, to discuss how faith communities can help provide affordable housing and housing resources for people who are homeless. The engagement, hosted by the Governing Board of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness and Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., began with a moment of silence and an all-faith prayer by Kathleen Kline Chesson, senior minister of the First Christian Church of Falls Church, followed by a call to action to the faith communities by Imam Mohamed Hag Magid, chairman, Faith Communities in Action (FCIA). 

Acknowledging the Faith Communities

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova presented a proclamation acknowledging the long time work of the faith communities in providing services and support to people who are homeless. “Faith organizations have had a long and fruitful relationship with our human services network, and we have tremendous opportunities for building on that solid foundation in the area of housing,” said Chairman Bulova.

Hunter Mill Districts Supervisor Catherine M. Hudgins joined Chairman Bulova in highlighting the historical and current partnership of the Board of Supervisors and the faith communities. She also highlighted her challenge to Fairfax County residents to contribute property tax savings to help prevent and end homelessness. Both are members of the Governing Board of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness.

Leveraging Resources

During the engagement, participants heard from key community stakeholder, official decision makers, clergy, developers and local and state government staff who are involved in developing affordable housing. They also heard a passionate and moving testimony from Luella Brown on her journey from being homeless to owning her own home. Some of the topics discussed during the engagement included:

  • How the county’s Housing Blueprint supports the Fairfax-Falls Church 10-Year Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness housing goals.
  • How to share financial faith-based resources for housing, rental assistance, housing subsidies and household supplies.
  • How to leverage land and financial resources to create housing development partnerships and affordable housing.
  • How to help people who are homeless in 50 plus ways.

Special Thanks

Master of Ceremonies: Michael L. O’Reilly, chairman, Governing Board of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness.

Moderators: David Bowers, Vice President and Market Leader of Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.; Patricia Harrison, deputy county executive, Fairfax County; and Conrad Egan, senior advisor, Affordable Housing Institute and member of the Governing Board of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness.

Panelists: Lee Fifer, partner, McGuire Woods, LLP, land use and affordable housing attorney, and founder, Affordable Housing Opportunities Means Everyone (AHOME); Reverend Gerald (Jerry) Hopkins, member, Virginia Housing Development Authority, member, Chesterbrook Residences, Inc., and member, AHOME Board of Directors; Dr. Leonard Hamlin Sr., pastor, Macedonia Baptist Church; Walter Webdale, president and CEO, ARC, Inc.; Jim Edmondson, Chesterbrook Residences; Michael Scheurer, Virginia Housing Development Authority; and select Fairfax County staff.

Planning Committee Members: Chairman Sharon Bulova, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors; Dean Klein, Glynda Mayo Hall and Debbie Scaggs, Fairfax County Office to Prevent and End Homelessness; David Bowers, Jessica Rafferty, Deborah Stevenson and Monica Warren-Jones, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.; Sandra Chisholm and Sherri Link, FCIA; David Kalender, Fairfax-Falls Church Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness; Mark Thomas, Chairman Bulova’s Office; Jerry Hopkins, Chesterbrook Residences, Inc., and AHOME; Tom Devine and Diana Lotito, Communities of Faith United for Housing; Jeannie Cummins, Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board; Margaret Mellnik, Fairfax County Department of Family Services; Carol Erhard, Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development; Tom Barnett, Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services, Inc.; and Shelley Murphy, Wesley Housing.

For more information on the engagement, contact Glynda Mayo Hall,
Fairfax County Office to Prevent and End Homelessness, at .

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