Housing is a big part of a family budget across the area and in Mount Vernon, Good Shepherd Housing’s “Capital Campaign,” has helped out low-income families since 2018.
This five-year program is coming to an end, and the nonprofit has secured 97 housing units in Mount Vernon for lower income families. These are split between condominiums and townhouses mostly in the Colchester community, as well as a smaller number in Sequoyah, Mount Vernon Lakes, Pembrook Village, Beekman Place and Hagel Circle in the Lorton area.
“It’s been very successful,” said Chris Reddick, a board member with Good Shepherd who has spearheaded the effort and worked with donations.
Amazon stepped in and helped with Good Shepherd’s campaign, donating $2 million to purchase 18 units of affordable housing.
Along Richmond Highway where Good Shepherd helps out, many households spend 50 percent or more of their monthly income on rent, leaving little money for food, transportation, childcare or healthcare needs. Good Shepherd provides resources through partnerships with other community-based organizations, local businesses, faith communities and Fairfax County.
Good Shephert also works with residents to achieve a brighter future through programs such as financial literacy and skills training for higher-paying jobs. Reddick mentioned their work with the WISH center to get people the training for the higher salaried positions. "We have aligned ourselves with the needs," he said.
The WISH Center is the Fairfax County Workforce Innovation and Skills Hub which was built in an old racquet club near the Gum Springs area. They offer classes and certification programs so participants can get better jobs to lift them into better circumstances. The Center could be a catalyst for the whole area.
Recently, another program called “Career Power,” was established through the contribution of a donor who is focused on helping young people break the generational cycle of poverty. Career Power works with youth, ages 16-24, to help them plan for higher education, or a career in a trade. The goal is that low-income youth and young adults will establish careers that allow them to be economically self-sufficient. “Our vision is to provide the support and resources they need to achieve individual success,” Good Shepherd said. https://goodhousing.org/
Housing prices aren’t standing still though, and Good Shepherd tries to maintain their purchasing power. “The dollars don’t go as far as they used to,” Reddick said. Nonetheless, Good Shepherd has helped many in the past 50 years and will continue their efforts.
Their affordable housing programs have been “reducing homelessness and enabling self-sufficiency among working families, senior citizens and residents with disabilities in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County,” and they hope additional donations will allow them to help even more. https://goodhousing.harnessapp.com/wv2/donate