Housing, a basic necessity, is a struggle for many in our community and is one of Northern Virginia Family Service’s (NVFS) primary focuses. Stable housing is a foundation for success and self-sufficiency. Providing access to affordable housing in order to assist community members in becoming and remaining stably housed is a key goal of NVFS’ housing services.
“It’s hard for anybody to look for employment when you’re unhoused. It’s very hard to take care of your children when you’re not stably housed. There’s a lot of stress and trauma that goes along with homelessness and moving into housing,” explained Kathy Bridgeman, NVFS director of community housing.
To help clients establish and maintain stable housing, NVFS provides case management to help them develop new skills, understand the factors that contributed to their homelessness, and learn how to prevent it from happening again.
“Usually, folks who find themselves in the circumstances most of our clients do lack some coping skills, financial knowledge or money management skills, or other things are interfering with them being able to keep themselves stably housed,” she stated.
NVFS sets short- and long-term goals with housing clients, encourages daily efforts to stay housed and provides the skills and knowledge for clients to do it.
“The general public seems to think we just give out money and don’t actually have reasonable expectations of participation. All of our programs require some investment from the household to move towards self-sufficiency,” Bridgeman noted.
It’s work that requires a team of like-minded individuals. NVFS works with multiple local partners to help clients become self-sufficient and maintain stable housing.
Bridging Affordability (BA) and Regional Housing Assistance Program (RHAP) are great examples of partnerships that prevent homelessness and encourage stable housing in Northern Virginia:
- BA is a partnership of 14 Fairfax County nonprofit agencies. It provides job training, financial education and more. Clients can qualify for rental assistance for up to 24 months.
- RHAP focuses on financial and health-related barriers to stable housing. It provides both short- and long-term assistance based on needs and qualifications.
“We try to help educate [our clients], and provide resources and connections,” Bridgeman explained.
Through the combined efforts of NVFS, partners and community members, our work to educate and support those in need continues to strengthen our community.