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Katherine Hanley Shelter Hosts Open House

Shelter houses more than 20 families at a time.

Members of the Shelter House board and staff at the Katherine K. Hanley Family Shelter in Fairfax host an open house Tuesday, May 14.

Members of the Shelter House board and staff at the Katherine K. Hanley Family Shelter in Fairfax host an open house Tuesday, May 14. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

— Shelter House, a Herndon-based nonprofit that operates two homeless shelters in Fairfax County, as well as a domestic abuse shelter, hosted an open house at their Katherine K. Hanley Family Shelter in Fairfax Tuesday, May 14.

“The Hanley shelter houses 20 to 24 families, consisting of 60 to 80 people, at any given time,” said Jamie Ergas, director of the shelter. “We have four ‘pods’ as we call them, each of which has six rooms and three bathrooms.”

Since July 1, 2012, the shelter has seen 105 families, with 63 percent of families leaving moving into permanent housing and 14 percent moving to temporary housing. The average length of stay per family has been 62 days.

The shelter offers tutoring four days a week, and has a computer lab that residents use for job and housing searches.

There is also a teen lounge that features video games and other activities.

“Living at the shelter can be tough on teens especially,” Ergas said. “The younger children don’t know as much about what’s going on, they just have fun doing activities, but the teens are fully aware of their situation, so we try to make it a pleasant experience for them.”

This year the shelter received a grant from Home Depot to plant a vegetable garden in the back, and volunteers from Keller Williams helped plant the garden. The produce from the garden will be used in the shelter’s dining room.

“It’s great to be here and actually hear personal stories and see the people who are being helped,” said Mark Dolfis, Shelter House board member. “Being on the board means a lot of planning and meetings, but this makes it personal, and shows us why we’re here.”

In addition to the Hanley Shelter, Shelter House operated the Patrick Henry Shelter in Falls Church, and the Artemis House for victims of domestic violence. More information on Shelter House can be found at www.shelterhouse.org.