To the Editor:
In his opinion piece (“Homelessness: Source of Trauma for Children,” Connection, August 13-19, 2014), Dean Klein, the Director of Fairfax County’s Office to Prevent and End Homelessness, clearly enumerated the reality for hundreds of homeless families and their children in the County. While most of them are working, these families do not earn enough income for them to access affordable housing. According to a study completed by George Mason University in 2012, nearly half the households earning less than $40,000 in annual income in the Mount Vernon and Woodlawn communities have trouble finding or maintaining housing for their families.
At Good Shepherd Housing & Family Services, a 40-year-old homeless services and affordable housing provider serving the Mount Vernon community, we have seen many such families struggling to access affordable housing. They are living on the brink of homelessness — or are, in fact, experiencing a spell of homelessness. Last year we helped nearly 120 of these families in our area to find permanent affordable housing.
As Dean Klein noted, the consequences of homelessness do not end quickly. Especially when children are involved and have suffered the trauma of homelessness, the effects may be lifelong. Moreover, they suffer from emotional or behavioral problems that interfere with learning at almost three times the rate of other children. Children should never have to wonder where they’ll be sleeping on any given night. In our County some 700 children do wonder.
Here at Good Shepherd Housing, we work hard to ameliorate the problems these homeless children face. We ensure that formerly homeless children in our housing programs do not miss out on educational, social and recreational activities simply because their families have low-incomes.
Because of generously donated funds, we provide these children with school supplies and new winter coats and pay for their after school activities and summer camps.
At Good Shepherd Housing we are doing all we can to provide our community’s working poor with a fresh start toward stable housing and a better life.
Good Shepherd Housing