Let’s end homelessness for area families

In 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama participated in the White House’s Mayors Challenge to end homelessness for vets. The goal was to reach “functional zero”—providing permanent housing to all veterans who were living on the streets and would accept housing.

New Orleans was able to meet the goal ahead of schedule.

This effort had many participants, including local landlords, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the military, community agencies, and partners on the federal, state and local levels.

Street outreach teams identified, connected and built relationships with the homeless population. Navigators found permanent housing and locators identified affordable housing. Those with mental illness and substance abuse disorders were accepted or diverted into a plan that prioritized permanent housing.

Ending homelessness is possible, but it takes funding, planning, dedication, hard work, volunteers, strong leaders and assistance from all levels of government.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness states that in Virginia, there are 6,067 people (7.2 persons per 10,000 in the general population) who are homeless. There are 164 schoolchildren in Stafford County, 99 in Spotsylvania County and 26 in Caroline County whose basic need of shelter is not being met.

In the Fredericksburg area, the Brisben Center is a shelter for men, women, and children with a support program to accomplish and maintain self-sufficiency. Micah Ecumenical Ministries gives access to employment, housing and education. Loisann’s Hope House rapidly moves families from homelessness to permanent housing.

New Orleans conquered veteran homelessness. What’s our excuse for not conquering homelessness for families?

Tricia Jackson


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