Fairfax homeless numbers drop over decade

Fairfax County, one of the richest in the nation, isn’t a place where you’d normally think of homeless people. But the county isn’t immune.

The good news is, the number of homeless in Fairfax has dropped, significantly, over the past ten years.

The county’s annual count, which was made in January, listed 987 people as homeless. Ten years ago that number was 1,835…about 50 percent more.

Here’s what counters found this year during the Point in Time Count, which took place in the Fairfax County-Falls Church area on the night of Jan. 24:

  • 987 people were reported homeless, including 488 in families and 499 single adults.
  • For families who were homeless due to domestic violence, the number of families increased 18 percent, for a total of 71 families in 2018, compared with 60 families in 2017.
  • 221 single adults, or 44 percent total, were reported as suffering from serious mental illness and/or substance abuse. This was similar to 2017.
  • 146 singles adults were more than 55 years old, a decrease from 155 older adults counted in 2017.

A slight uptick over the past year

There was a slight increase this year from the 2017 Point in Time Count, which reported 964 people experiencing homelessness. Fairfax County officials attribute that to five factors:

    1. An increase in emergency shelter and transitional housing in the county for those experiencing domestic violence.
    2. A lack of new housing resources.
    3. A shortage of housing options for those people not yet experiencing chronic homelessness who are at risk of becoming chronically homeless.
    4. A lack of new federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) homeless assistance funds.
    5. A decrease in the number of federally funded Housing Choice and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers available to those experiencing homelessness in the county. These programs are designed to assist low-income families, as well as veterans, with their housing needs.

What is the Point in Time Count?

The Point in Time Count is made following federal guidelines and covers people who are literally homeless – those who are in shelters, in time-limited transitional housing programs or unsheltered and living on the street. Fairfax County’s Point in Time Count was conducted in coordination with the entire Metro Washington, D.C., region; all the local jurisdictions’ counts were done on Jan. 24.


About the Author

Ed Tobias
Ed Tobias brings more than four decades of reporting and news management experience to his work at FairfaxNews. Tobias managed news coverage for Associated Press Radio for over twenty years.  This included coverage of the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, the death of Princess Diana, the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters and national election primaries, conventions and campaigns.  He was part of the team that built AP’s on-line video operation. Prior to joining AP, Tobias was News Director at all-news WTOP in Washington, D.C. He has won two Ohio State Awards for his reporting and producing and he led coverage that won an Edward R. Murrow Award.