Join the Movement to End Hunger and Homelessness
A DHCS CONNECT FEATURE
November 9, 2020--In recognition of National Youth Homelessness Awareness Month and National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (November 15-22), the City of Alexandria will be raising awareness of the problems faced by our neighbors at risk of and experiencing homelessness and food insecurity and promoting resources to address these issues throughout the month of November.
The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the national housing crisis. Life events such as losing a job or an unexpected health crisis are putting many at risk of eviction, foreclosure and homelessness.
Instability, like eviction and homelessness, has profound effects on mental and physical health and is particularly damaging to children, impacting their educational development and well-being. Along with losing their home, community, friends and routines as well as their sense of stability and safety, many youth experiencing homelessness are also victims of trauma, according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. While trying to survive on the streets, youth are exposed to countless dangers, with an increased likelihood of substance misuse, early parenthood, impulsivity, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder and a vulnerability to being trafficked.
The impact of the pandemic has also increased food insecurity, leaving many forced to choose between basic necessities like purchasing food, paying the rent or going to the doctor. According to the National Institute of Health, of those who lost their jobs in the first two months of the pandemic, 31% reported food insecurity and 33% reported eating less due to financial constraints. Food insecurity is associated with worse general health and wellbeing, including depression, anxiety, chronic disease and negative impacts on developmental outcomes for children.
The 2020 Annual Point-in-Time (PIT) Count revealed 207 persons experiencing homelessness in the City of Alexandria, including 32 households with adults and children (36 adults and 50 children) and 121 singles (85 men and 36 women), including 11 unsheltered singles and 15 chronically homeless singles. The total number of persons identified during the 2020 Count increased by 5% from 2019.
Residents are encouraged to join the City in increasing public awareness of the problems associated with eviction, homelessness and food insecurity and the financial assistance and other resources available to address these issues with their neighbors, including:
- Eviction prevention programs and resources, including financial assistance with rent and mortgage payments and guidance for those receiving eviction notices
- Food assistance programs and resources, such as the Grocery Gift Card Program
- Assistance for basic needs, including utility bills, prescriptions and more
- Job assistance, including employment opportunities and free workshops
- Healthcare resources, including options for those without insurance or who are underinsured
- Homeless Services Assessment Center, which connects individuals with services and support
- Winter Shelter, open daily from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. through March 31 regardless of weather.
If you encounter someone experiencing homelessness, share these services or notify a caseworkers by contacting Alex311 online or by calling 311 or 703.746.4311. Staff from the City’s Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) will respond with resources and support as soon as possible.
Residents can also get involved by sharing DCHS posts on Facebook and Twitter aimed at raising awareness, participating in challenge events, donating items and services, supporting the SNAP Double Dollars Program and other opportunities to raise awareness and help end homelessness and food insecurity in Alexandria. Learn more.