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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Volunteers encouraged to serve on advisory council for Bailey's Crossroads shelter


Only a handful of local residents came to an informational session April 12 about starting a new advisory council for the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter, so the people who did show up agreed to hold off on selecting officers until more community outreach is undertaken.

The shelter, at 3525 Moncure Avenue, has a new director. Jimmy Rogers, who just started on April 10, previously worked at the Center for American Homeless Veterans.

Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS), which operates the shelter for Fairfax County, is ending its relationship with the county at the end of June 2018.

That’s because the shelter’s new building, to be constructed at 5914 Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, will have “permanent supportive housing,” said Lorena McDowell, director of homeless services as NVFS, and “that’s not our mission.” NVFS focuses on providing temporary assistance to homeless people, among other services.

The new Bailey’s shelter will provide 18 units of permanent supportive housing, including three units for people with medical needs, as well as 52 beds for people who need temporary, emergency housing.

Fairfax County wants a single vender to operate the new shelter, McDowell said. The Office to Prevent and End Homelessness hasn’t selected a new vender yet. “It will be a thoughtful, slow transition,” she said.

That process will be totally separate from the construction of the new building. The new shelter is scheduled to open in fall 2019.

McDowell said the existing Bailey’s shelter isn’t able to provide enough workshops for teaching clients about financial literacy, how to search for a job, and other skills, because it doesn’t have enough space. The new facility will have more room.

Meagan Perkins, community and volunteer engagement specialist for NVFS, asked participants at the April 12 meeting about what they want the new advisory group to do.

Among the suggestions from local residents:
  • Inform civic associations about what’s happening at the shelter and what the shelter is doing to help homeless people move forward. 
  • Encourage the homeless to participate in the community. 
  • Do more outreach in the community to recruit volunteers and get businesses and churches involved in the shelter. 
  • Print cards about the shelter that residents can hand out to homeless people they see in stores or on the street. 
Last month, the shelter was able to move 15 people into permanent housing and is on track to get 15 more people off the street this months, McDowell said. The monthly average is six.

That is the kind of positive story that community members need to hear about, said one resident.

Anyone interested in being a part of the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter Advisory Council should contact Meagan Perkins, mperkins@nvfs.org, 703-820-7621, ext. 216. The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for May 10.

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