Suezette and I started Family PASS in 2006, hoping to assist a few families until they could safely afford rent on their own. Since helping our first client-a family in crisis-we've worked with more than 80 families and more than 200 children to transition them from being in crisis to being safe, stable or thriving.
Our focus has always been the "working" homeless, people who cannot afford to keep their homes in Fairfax County despite holding two or even three jobs. The county estimates that it would take one person, working at minimum wage, more than 122 hours a week to be able to afford adequate housing.
The Family PASS method is to transition these families quickly from emergency shelter to permanent housing while working with them on a long-term basis to help them achieve a level of self-sufficiency. And our method works. Today 97 percent of our clients have not returned to homelessness.
It has been a productive first half of 2015. Family PASS has moved more than 30 families into their final stages of case management, housing stability, and self-sufficiency. Their children are thriving as well, crucial for families as they work towards a stable quality of life. An important part of what Family PASS does is to help families ensure the future of their children, and it is rewarding to see our long-term work extend into the next generation.
Homelessness continues to be a challenge in Fairfax County. In 2015, between 1,500 and 2,500 people were homeless, based on statistics from the county and
The Washington Post
. Family PASS will continue to meet the needs of the homeless.
In June, Family PASS hired a full-time executive director, Pat Kearns, with more than 28 years experience in nonprofit management, as well as foundation and corporate development. Pat is working with the board of directors and staff to realize the Family PASS strategic plan. In 2016, we will expand our case manager staff, becoming a leading resource to assist emergency shelters to rapidly transition families from shelters to permanent housing and long-term counseling.
Our volunteers and supporters, who have been invaluable throughout our nearly 10-year history, are as excited about our future as we are.
Family PASS has
dedicated the last nine years to helping move more than 80 families from homeless
ness or risk of homelessness to self-sufficiency. On June 25, friends, supporters and former clients celebrated a
nother transition, paying tribute to Family PASS and one of its founders, Suezette Steinhardt, pictured here flanked by volunteers. Mrs. Steinhardt, who has stepped down as Executive
Director, will remain actively involved with Family PASS as an advisor and advocate for t he homeless in the community.
Family PASS also recognized founding Board members Therese Dyer Caplan, Kathe King, Laura Ferree, Board President Allan Steinhardt, and volunteers Patti Cooksey and Ann Marquis.
Family PASS extends a heartfelt thanks to the organizers of this Hail and Farewell Dinner event: Program Committee Chair Chris Gaugler, who served as emcee; Vale Club volunteers for catering; and St. Mark's for providing the venue.
Do You Know Me? Can You See Me?
Those questions are part of Fairfax County's Homeless Mannequin Campaign (HM
C), a new effort to bring to public attention the plight of homelessness in Fairfax County.
The campaign places life-like mannequins in office buildings, town centers and publ
ic settings around the county to represent the stories of homelessness. Each mannequin is ta
gged with the slogan "Do You Know Me? Can You See Me?" and has a sign att ached to show that every homeless person has a different story.
The awareness campaign hopes to encourage Fairfax Country residents to join and support nonprofit organizations and others focused on this population and the county's 10-year plan to end homelessness.
For more information go to: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/homeless/mannequins.html
Information for this story came from The Washington Post article on the mannequins (Antonio Olivo, August 8, 2015) and the Fairfax County Office to Prevent and End Homelessness.
Carrie's Story - A Client Profile
Family PASS provides rental assistance and supportive services needed to help families becomeself-sufficient. Each Family PASS client story is different. (The names of clients have been changed to protect confidentiality.)
Carrie became homeless after a failed relationship left her in financial ruin. Family PASS's case manager and Carrie worked together to locate a two-bedroom apartment in Centreville, close to Carrie's job at a global security company. With stable housing, Carrie was able to focus on her job as a security coordinator and build her career: she received a raise and consistently outstanding assessments from her supervisors, and she completed an online Defense Security Service certification course. After just over a year with Family PASS, Carrie reached the top of the waiting list for the county's Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, a permanent rental-subsidy program that Carrie had applied for five years earlier. In order to qualify for HCV, all able adults in the household need to be working and/or in school for 30 hours a week. Had Family PASS not stepped in when Carrie became homeless, it is very possible she would not have been able to maintain employment and gain entry into HCV.
After her approval, Carrie and her case manager began the housing search in Centreville, where she could remain close to her job and keep her sons in the same school. They were able to secure a three-bedroom townhouse whose owner was impressed by Carrie and her accomplishments as a single mother.
Since then, Carrie has earned a high-level security clearance and is steadily moving up at work. Originally an independent contractor, she is now a security analyst with a significant increase in her income. In addition, Carrie is close to earning her associate's degree and has begun saving through Fairfax County's Self-Sufficiency Program. And she is also enrolled in Fairfax County's first-time homebuyers program. Her ultimate goal: becoming a homeowner.
Once the face of homelessness, Carrie now beams with pride and accomplishment.
ring health fair for 45 Family PASS clients and their families was h
ld at the Lakevale
ouse in Vienna. George Washington University nursing students provided free health screenings and interactive workshops on various health-related topics such as weight management, diabetes, sun safety and cholesterol. There were
educational opportunities and activities for all ages.
Family PASS Annual Picnic
The Family PASS Program Committee organized a great day outdoors for volunteers and clients to kick off the summer. Everyone brought a dish to share, while volunteers Stacey Thornburg and Cliff Cooksey manned the grill. The kids (and adults) tossed water balloons and ran egg races. Thanks to everyone who made this a fun day and to the Program Committee and volunteers Stacey Thornburg, Cliff and Patti Cooksey, Linda Cooper, Daisy Mayall, Ann Marquis, Barbara Michel, Program Chair Chris Gaugler, and her husband Hanson.
Friends In Deed
, Family PASS will implement a new program to support our families, especially our childre
n. The program, Friends In Deed, will reach out to the community to ask for their support in providing gift cards or in-kind support to meet very specific needs that fall outside a family's available bu
dget. If you are someone who want s to make a difference in an individual's life, then this is for you.
Watch for a special article in the next newsletter, information posted on our website or an individual email inviting your support and participation in Friends In Deed.