NVFS Expands Transitional Housing Program for Homeless Families

Oakton, Va., Dec. 8, 2006— More families will be able to overcome homelessness and build promising futures through the recent expansion of Northern Virginia Family Service’s (NVFS) BEST Transitional Housing Program. In November, NVFS purchased two townhomes in Prince William County with $250,000 from the Freddie Mac Foundation and $250,000 from a Prince William County Community Development Block Grant.

“NVFS is grateful to the Freddie Mac Foundation and Prince William County, both of which have made a major commitment to help struggling families succeed in the region. We are fortunate to be one of the recipients of this new direction, which is also a commitment to the future of our organization and its programs,” said NVFS President and CEO Mary Agee.

“We’re pleased to work with NVFS in helping more families of our region’s become self sufficient,” explained Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., chairman, Freddie Mac Foundation. “Providing struggling families with a stable place to call home strengthens families and ensures that their children face a brighter future. That’s what our work is all about.”

NVFS’ BEST Transitional Housing Program provides a bridge for low-income, single mothers to take their families from homelessness to self-sufficiency. The goal of the program is to provide the participants with affordable housing while they acquire the skills needed to secure and maintain permanent housing, including financial education, job training and many other valuable life skills.

Participants meet with their case manager on a regular basis to assess progress. Together, they develop a plan to help the participant meet long- and short-term goals that will lead to self-sufficiency and permanent housing. Residents attend classes and workshops that teach them a variety of life skills such as minor home maintenance, positive parenting techniques, basic nutrition and healthy living suggestions and personal financial management.

BEST was founded in the early 1990’s with one house and two families. With the addition of these two homes, the program can now accommodate a total of 14 families. The houses are located in residential communities throughout eastern Prince William County. During the past year, all the residents completing the program have reached their goals of increasing their incomes and improving their credit while in the program. BEST gave each of them the opportunity to become self-reliant and have a brighter future.

Family homelessness is a growing problem in the DC area. More than 14,000 people are homeless in the Washington, DC area, and nearly half are children and families. A majority of these families live in the suburbs, including in Prince William County. Homelessness increases the likelihood that families will dissolve. And, homeless children are more likely to be placed in foster care, are less healthy, experience disruptions in schooling, and are more likely to have developmental delays than other children. Transitional housing, such as these two town homes, and support services help stabilize families and prevent these poor outcomes.