Community Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
It is the community’s plan, created by residents, nonprofit groups, businesses, schools and governments.
What is the plan?
In February 2007, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors endorsed the “Blueprint for Success: Strategic Directions for the Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness in the Fairfax-Falls Church Community.”
This strategic road map to prevent and end homelessness was created by Planning Committee to End Homelessness, in partnership with the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, government agencies, nonprofits, faith communities and businesses. The four strategic directions are:
- Prevention: Keep people from becoming homeless in the first place.
- Preservation: Increase and preserve affordable housing.
- Integration: Deliver integrated social services to those who need it.
- Implementation: Create a community partnership to ensure accountability and funding.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted a community developed Implementation Plan in March 2008. The plan is a new way to prevent and end homelessness. Its key approach is to put people into housing, not shelters. Housing becomes the first step in moving out of homelessness, not the last. This approach is called “housing first.”
Why do we need a plan?
Our current system cares for people, but it is not designed to prevent or end homelessness. We can if we try. Hundreds of other cities and counties are trying — and they are succeeding with the housing first approach.
How will we pay for the plan?
It’s a matter of redirecting the money we already spend. It can actually be less expensive to put people into housing, instead of shelters.
- It costs about $13,500 per year for a bed in a shelter in Fairfax County.
- Compare this to $10,500 a house voucher for a two- or three-bedroom apartment.
But the real question isn’t the cost of shelters versus housing. Research shows that homelessness costs more than you think. The true cost includes the public dollars spent on emergency medical care, education and other items.
Where will we find housing for people who are homeless?
Some may fear that the answer is building affordable homes near neighborhoods. There is no single solution, but there are many options:
- Preserve affordable homes by using the dedicated penny from the real estate tax.
- Create tax incentives for developers to build affordable homes.
- Partner with nonprofits and faith communities to help working families pay for homes
- Change land use, zoning and tax policies to create incentives for affordable homes
- It will take a public-private partnership to create homes within reach of working families.
How was the plan developed?
In April 2007, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors appointed a 95-member Implementation Committee to develop the plan to prevent and end homelessness based on the strategies outlined in the Blueprint for Success. The Implementation Committee included representatives from housing development organizations, business and financial institutions, health care and mental health providers, faith communities, employment services, nonprofit service providers and public agencies — the broad range of community partners that can prevent and end homelessness.
The Implementation Committee formed three working groups that met during the summer of 2007 to develop specific action steps to carry out the four strategies outlined in the Blueprint for Success. In July 2007, the Executive Committee of the Implementation Committee began meeting to combine the working groups’ recommendations into an integrated plan
The Implementation Committee presented its recommended plan to a joint meeting of the Housing and Community Development and Human Services committees of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in November 2007, and on March 31, 2008, the Board of Supervisors officially adopted the plan.