What You Told Us About Homelessness in Our County

Word cloud of comments made to homelessness survey question on describing interaction with a homeless person.

Earlier this spring our Office to Prevent and End Homelessness and Office of Public Affairs partnered with a group of George Mason University communications students to find out what you thought about homelessness and our homeless population in our county. The students designed a survey and worked with us – with support from media and other partners – to get the survey to as many people as possible. Although the results are not scientific, it did provide us with a lot of good feedback.

Almost 1,600 people took the survey and provided 7,800 comments.

Read the Survey Results

 

A summary of several of the questions that were asked and how you responded:

Personal Interaction

Have you ever had a personal interaction with a person who is homeless?

Almost 82 percent of responders said that they have had a personal interaction. Here is how they described the interaction/s:

Graph showing if suervey responders had a positive, neutral or negative response to an interaction with someone who is homeless.

There were 754 comments to this question. This word cloud indicates the words and phrases most often used:

Word cloud of comments made to homelessness survey question on describing interaction with a homeless person.

 

Why Is Someone Homeless?

In your opinion, what are up to three reasons why someone may be homeless?

This question received thousands of responses, including divorce, financial crisis, domestic abuse and affordable housing. Three often cited reasons were:

  • Mental health/illness
  • Substance abuse/addiction
  • Job loss/unemployment

 

Giving Money Directly to a Person Who Is Homeless

Would you have concerns about giving money directly to someone who is homeless?

Almost 64 percent of the survey responders said they would be concerned and provided 808 comments on the topic.

Survey results showing a majority of people have concerns about giving money directly to someone who is homeless.

The word cloud of the most often used words in the comments:

Word cloud of comments on question on concerns about giving money directly to someone who is homeless.

 

Personal Connection to Being at Risk

Have you or someone you know ever been at risk for being homeless?

Forty-five percent of the survey responders said that they or someone they know has been at risk for being homeless.

Words and phrases most often used:

Word cloud of comments on question on if you or someone you know has been at risk for being homeless.

 

Affects You as a Resident

Do you believe homelessness is an issue that affects you personally as a resident of Fairfax County?

65 percent of survey responders said yes and provided 860 comments.

 

What Can You Do?

Have you ever donated to or volunteered at a homeless shelter?

67 percent of responders said yes.

If you had the opportunity, would you like to help our homeless community by:

  • Volunteering: 68 percent
  • Financial Donation: 50 percent
  • Working With Advocacy Groups: 39 percent
  • Other ways: 22 percent
Get Involved With Our Nonprofit Partners

 

Next Steps?

It was a great opportunity to work with the George Mason students, their work on this survey was thoughtful and is providing really great information for us.” said Dean Klein, director of the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness. “The next step for us is to work with our nonprofit and community partners, as well as other county agencies, to understand and address concerns and issues that came up in the community’s input.  I want to thank everyone who responded to the survey – just to have almost 1,600 people take the time to think about and share their thoughts on this important issue in our county was gratifying.  We have a lot of work to do!”

Watch our video on the survey results and discussion with Dean and Amy, one of the George Mason students who worked on the project:

 

Get More Information

 

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