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Almost a quarter of homeless Fairfax County residents are under 18, data shows

Encampment set up by people experiencing homelessness (via MWCOG)

Work is underway to understand the state of homelessness in Fairfax County.

The county conducted its annual Point-in-Time Count this past January, where public and nonprofit workers travel to shelters, transitional housing, and other sites to document the number of people experiencing homelessness on one night.

“We’re analyzing the results, and we’ll be publishing the results along with the other D.C. region communities in May,” Tom Barnett, the deputy director of the county’s Office to Prevent and End Homelessness, told FFXnow.

Barnett says there won’t be a way to determine whether homelessness increased or decreased for the area until the report is finalized. The Metropolitan Washington Coalition of Governments will release the report.

Last year, Fairfax County was one of only two localities in the D.C. area to report an increase in people experiencing homelessness. Its numbers increased from 2017 to 2021 by 27%, or 1,222 individuals.

According to a presentation to the county’s Advisory Social Services Board on March 16, the age group most affected by homelessness last year was children and teenagers:

  • 24% of people experiencing homelessness were under the age of 18
  • 7% were 18 to 24-year-olds
  • 16% were 25 to 34-year-olds
  • 15% were 35 to 44-year-olds
  • 15% were 45 to 54-year-olds
  • 12% were 55 to 61-year-olds
  • 11% were 62 and older

County staff also reported that 51% of those affected locally were Black, and 37% were white. Most were male, and 327 people were chronically homeless.

Fairfax County has been using federal stimulus funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 and American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to support its efforts to address homelessness during the pandemic.

One example from those funds includes money to provide 169 emergency housing vouchers to people so they can rent apartments in Fairfax County.

“That’s going to be make a huge positive impact in our homelessness numbers,” Barnett said.

In March, the county also announced it was receiving $10 million in federal Continuum of Care funding to provide homeless housing and services. Most of the money will be used to expand programming at the nonprofit Shelter House.

“Our community received a significant increase this year,” Barnett said, noting that it represents a 9% uptick from last year’s funding. “That money is going to help survivors of domestic violence who are experiencing homelessness find new housing.”

The county also created a Continuum of Care Committee last year to assess its strategies around addressing homelessness.

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