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Homelessness drops, half counted in 2022 are Black, county reports

Bailey’s Shelter and Supporting Housing (via Fairfax County)

Fairfax County saw a slight drop with its annual January count of people experiencing homelessness, reversing a yearslong trend.

Released yesterday (Tuesday), the 2022 count recorded 1,191 individuals experiencing homelessness in the county, including those using shelters. Nearly one in four were chronically homeless, and over a quarter was under the age of 18, an increase from last year.

“This is a decrease of 3 percent (31 people) from the 2021 Point-in-Time Count, in which there were 1,222 people identified as experiencing homelessness,” the county’s Office to Prevent and End Homelessness says on its website.

The homelessness reporting metric last dropped in January 2017 with a count of 964 people. Since then, the number has been increasing steadily, jumping from 1,041 in 2020 to 1,222 people last year.

Per the county, homelessness has disproportionately affected Black people:

The most significant disparity in the demographics of those experiencing homelessness on the night of the 2022 Point-in-Time Count is the disproportionate representation of people identifying as Black or African American. Although only 10% of the general population in Fairfax County identifies as Black or African American, 50 percent of the people experiencing homelessness on the night of the 2022 Point-in-Time Count identified as Black or African American. This imbalance has not improved over time.

Daytime drop-in homeless services provider The Lamb Center and affordable housing developer Wesley Housing are seeking to further help prevent homelessness by redeveloping Fairfax City’s Hy-Way Motel site (9640 Fairfax Blvd.) into a five-story building with 54 studio apartments, according to a news release.

“It’s good to see homelessness in the county trending down, but the long-term solution is supportive housing,” Lamb Center Executive Director Tara Ruszkowski said in a statement.

The project, which would have offices on the ground floor, would serve residents at or below 30% of the Area Median Income — currently $29,910 for a single person.

Photo via Fairfax County

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