Finding Housing Solutions for Homelessness and Domestic Violence

Published on
06/03/2024
Image of County Executive Bryan Hill with Joey Meyer, executive director and CEO of Shelter House

 

In the June episode of the "Connect with County Leaders" podcast, host Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill talked with Joe Meyer, executive director and CEO of Shelter House, a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing homelessness and domestic violence in the region.

The conversation shed light on the challenges faced by organizations like Shelter House in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing efforts to provide sustainable housing solutions for vulnerable populations.

Meyer has been at Shelter House since 2005. He shared that his motivation to work in human services stems from his upbringing in a middle-class family, where he recognized his privilege and ability to positively impact others. 

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BUILDING IN FAIRFAX COUNTY

Starting with just 17 employees, Shelter House has grown to a staff of 180, reflecting the increasing demand for their services.

"Our jobs got significantly harder with COVID, and now everything about business got harder," Meyer said, referring to the challenges faced by nonprofits and organizations in retaining talent, managing infrastructure and providing competitive salaries and benefits during and after the pandemic.

Despite these obstacles, Meyer expressed optimism about Fairfax County's understanding of the nonprofit sector's business needs. 

He also praised the county's support and emphasis on human services, particularly in addressing homelessness.

 

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX

One of the critical priorities for Shelter House and Fairfax County is helping the unhoused population. Meyer stressed the importance of thinking outside the traditional shelter model and exploring affordable housing options tailored to the specific needs of individuals with mental illness or those who have been through the criminal justice system repeatedly.

Permanent supportive housing, which provides low-cost housing with attached services, is one solution Meyer suggested as effective in keeping individuals out of jails, emergency rooms and shelters, ultimately reducing the burden on taxpayers.
 

"We are looking to truly impact as many communities as we possibly can. We are looking to make a bigger footprint here in Fairfax County, to see what else we can do." - Joe Meyer, Shelter House

 

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

In addition to housing, Meyer emphasized the need for robust mental health support services within the county. He likened the work of Shelter House employees to that of trauma nurses, as they witness and experience secondary trauma from the situations their clients endure. Retaining talent and providing a supportive culture is crucial for Shelter House's success.

Moving forward, Shelter House aims to expand its footprint in Fairfax County and beyond, addressing the growing need for homelessness and domestic violence services. Meyer expressed gratitude for the county's support and funding, which enables Shelter House to pursue new opportunities and meet the community's evolving needs.

Meyer also urged the community to recognize the ongoing need for support and awareness surrounding homelessness and domestic violence in Fairfax County.

"We need more community support. We need more businesses to step forward," Meyer said. 

 

CONNECT WITH THE COUNTY LEADERS PODCAST

The “Connect with County Leaders” podcast is a monthly opportunity to meet and connect with Fairfax County leaders, to learn about the latest county news and information, and hear more on specific programs and services in Fairfax County.

Listen or watch past episodes of “Connect with County Leaders” on SoundCloud, on YouTube and on Channel 16’s podcast on demand page. For other Fairfax County podcasts, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/podcasts, and for additional audio content, tune in to Fairfax County Government Radio at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/radio.

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