Day of Celebration: Homeless No More in Fairfax

Day of Celebration: Homeless No More in Fairfax

The first residents move into Kate’s Place.

Facts and Details on Kate’s Place

Kate’s Place is new, permanent housing owned by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. It’s on the campus of the Katherine K. Hanley

Family Shelter and will serve county families who’ve experienced chronic or frequent homelessness and are in need of supportive services.

All Kate’s Place families face multiple barriers to maintaining stability, including disabilities that impede their household from earning a sufficient income. Each family will benefit from services provided by the nearby shelter, including tutoring and job-search assistance.

There are four one-level and two townhouse-style apartments within two, separate, three-unit buildings. Two of the one-level units are fully accessible, two-bedroom apartments. The remaining four units are three-bedroom apartments.

The total cost to develop the six units was $2.1 million. The county Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), on behalf of the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority, constructed Kate’s Place in partnership with the county’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services. The project was funded through the federal HOME Investment Partnership Program and the Fairfax County Housing Trust Fund.

Hammerhead Construction of Virginia began building the homes in October 2013 and finished this February. Architectural and related services for Kate’s Place were provided by Stanmyre+Noel Architects, and civil-engineering services were done by ADTEK Engineers.

The units will be managed under the Fairfax County Family Supportive Housing Program, a partnership of Fairfax County Human Services agencies, including the Community Services Board, Department of Family Services, Office to Prevent and End Homelessness and the Department of Administration for Human Services, plus nonprofit services providers including Shelter House, New Hope Housing and Cornerstones.

A case manager from Shelter House will provide direct services to the families of Kate`s Place, offering holistic and comprehensive case management services to all clients. This includes intake assessment, benefit assessment, goal setting, long-term care plan development, weekly case plan development, progress monitoring, individual money management, tenant education, advocacy and referrals. Cornerstones will provide property-management services including inspections, tenant orientation, maintenance coordination and rent collection.

— Kate’s Place consists of six apartments for extremely low-income and formerly homeless families. And to the mothers and children who just moved in, the homes are more than a roof over their heads — they’re a lifeline.

“From the bottom of my heart, I thank you,” said Silvia Galindo. “I wish I had a camera in my heart because I don’t want to forget every, single face who helped give me such a sweet home.”

She was speaking Monday afternoon, Feb. 23, during a Welcome Home ceremony at the Katherine K. Hanley Shelter, across the courtyard from the new homes. They’re off of Lee Highway in Fairfax, at the intersection of Meadow Estates Drive and Route 29, across from the Hampton Forest community.

A mother of two daughters, 15 and 6, Galindo particularly praised Shelter House, the nonprofit which runs the day-to-day operations at the Hanley Shelter and provides case management. “Because we have support from Shelter House, my children will have a future,” she said. “This is very special — God bless every one of you.”

Several Fairfax County supervisors attended the ceremony, as did other stakeholders in Kate’s Place. Deputy County Executive Patricia Harrington said that, on March 31, 2008, the supervisors adopted a plan to end homelessness in the county within 10 years. “Kate’s Place is one step toward that progress,” she said. “But it requires a collective effort.”

Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova said she was proud to celebrate a homecoming for these families. “This is a wonderful demonstration of the county’s commitment to ensuring safe homes for its residents,” she said. “And it’s an attractive addition to the community.”

Bulova said the apartments provide “comfortable, affordable and supportive housing to families who’ve experienced prolonged homelessness. And since they’re living next to the Hanley Shelter, they can obtain the services they need to be successful in their independence.”

“Partnerships have been incredibly important in getting these homes open, she continued. “The Redevelopment and Housing Authority and other county agencies, plus the nonprofit organizations including Shelter House have all played a part. And without HUD’s funding, we wouldn’t have this facility.”

Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) said the apartments “will give once-homeless families a place to call their own. And these families will be able to get services such as job-search and after-school tutoring, without leaving their neighborhood.”

Marvin Turner, director of HUD’s D.C. and National Capitol Area field office, said President Obama stressed that tackling the problem of homelessness and homeless individuals would be a cornerstone of his administration. And, he added, “The county’s plan is in coordination with his.”

“Fairfax County, under the leadership of Sharon Bulova and others, has been at the forefront, identifying the most vulnerable to prioritize them,” continued Turner. “And I’m pleased that part of the funding came from [HUD’s] Home Investment Partnership block grants providing homes for low-income families.”

The Kate’s Place families began moving into their new homes on Feb. 20. Altogether, there are six mothers and 13 children.

Rodney Lusk, on the governing board of the Fairfax-Falls Church Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness, called the new apartments amazing and a “positive step” toward eradicating homelessness.

“Today is a day of celebration,” he said. “I congratulate all the partners who’ve come forward to make this new housing possible. To the new residents, welcome home, and I wish you continued success in your future endeavors.”

“This collaboration of compassion is a remarkable thing,” said Robert Schwaninger, chairman of the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority. “Without people committed to helping, we couldn’t have gotten it done.”

Speaking next was former Board of Supervisors Chairman Kate Hanley, in whose honor both the shelter and the homes are named. “This is incredibly exciting,” she said. She also praised former Springfield District Supervisor Elaine McConnell for doing “a yeoman’s job” on the shelter. Hanley thanked the advocates for bringing the long-awaited, new residences to fruition and noted that Cornerstones is the shelter’s nonprofit property manager.

“This time of year, when it’s dangerously cold, people focus on the homeless,” she said. “But that focus blurs when the weather’s warmer. We’re keeping the focus on it all year ’round.”

Hanley said people often stop and tell her how wonderful the Hanley Shelter is and how they volunteer there. “And that’s amazing,” she said. “All I did was find the money. This is a wonderful example of a community that cares.”

But, said Shelter House Executive Director Joe Meyer, “Without Kate, we wouldn’t be in this room today — and neither would the six families who’ve already moved in. It’s permanent, supportive housing for people who wouldn’t be able to pay regular, market rent or sustain their homes on their own.”

After the shelter opened in August 2007, he said, curious and wary neighbors asked questions about it. “So we invited them in,” said Meyer. “And that October, their homeowners association asked the [shelter] children to come trick-or-treat in their neighborhood. And now, we’ve allowed six families to integrate back into the community so they can have the integrity we all deserve.”

With her 7-year-old daughter, Kariah, by her side, Kate’s Place resident Tyrea Edmonds thanked God, Fairfax County, Cornerstones and Shelter House for all their help. “This has been a long journey for me and my daughter,” she said. “On more nights than I can remember, she’s wiped my tears and kept me strong.”

Turning toward Kariah, she said, “Thank you. This is for you and for all the children who need a home.” For quite a while, said Edmonds, “My pride kept me from asking for help. But when your child is homeless, you keep up the fight. Finally, on Oct. 6, 2014, I moved into the shelter; I knew a new door had opened. We now have a new beginning and a place to call home.”

“When you’re homeless, you feel like no one can hear you,” she continued. “So to others in this situation, I say, ‘Make your crackly voice a roar so you can be heard.’ Tonight, when I tuck my princess into her bed in her new home, I’ll know my voice was heard.”