New Handout Lists Community Resources for Residents Experiencing Homelessness
March 19, 2021--The Department of Community and Human Services encourages community organizations and residents to utilize a new handout listing community resources for individuals at risk for or experiencing homelessness.
The Office of Community Services has updated the Alexandria Community Resources Card and also made it available as an easy-to-print two-sided flyer. The resource lists over 50 community services and resources. The flyer’s 8 x 11 size makes it easier for residents and organizations wanting to support community members experiencing a housing crisis to download, print and share the resource on a printer or copy machine. The Resources Card, which is designed to be folded to the size of a business card for easy storage, is distributed by staff from Homeless Services during outreach efforts.
In addition to sharing these resources with residents who may be in need of housing supports, there are additional ways to help:
If you have engaged the resident in conversation and learn that they are in need of supportive services, let them know they can call 703.746.5700, text 703.346.5599 or walk-in for services at the Homeless Services Assessment Center (2525 Mount Vernon Ave.) during business hours. During the winter months, advise them of the City's Winter Shelter Program run by Carpenter's Shelter (703.548.7500), which is open daily from 7 p.m. - 7 a.m. through March 2021.
If you aren’t comfortable engaging in conversion, contact Alex 311 to report your observations; please refrain from taking photos of residents experiencing homelessness out of respect for their privacy. Your report will be sent to the DCHS staff, who will go out and speak to the person within 24-48 business hours and offer available support and resources.
For more immediate welfare checks, call the police non-emergency line at 703.746.4444.
Helping residents experiencing homelessness is often complex and challenging. For as many people you encounter who are homeless, there are that many different stories. The causes of homelessness include the national housing crisis and lack of low-income housing, unemployment, decreasing opportunities for work and the erosion of safety net programs. Often people experience the loss of a job or have a health crisis that leaves them choosing between paying the rent or paying for an expensive prescription or medical care. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the national housing crisis, putting many at risk of eviction, foreclosure and homelessness.
Transitioning residents out of homelessness can be a slow process, which sometimes takes years. According to EndHomelessness.org, people experiencing chronic homelessness (those who have experienced homelessness for at least a year) typically have complex and long-term conditions, such as mental health issues, substance use disorders, physical disabilities or other conditions. Once someone becomes homeless, it is difficult for them to get back into housing and they can face long or repeated episodes of homelessness.
DCHS proactively and regularly reaches out and engages residents experiencing homelessness year around, offering the effective and essential safety net services designed to improve their lives and transition them out of homelessness. DCHS values individual personal choice and self-determination and does not force services on anyone, but staff work hard to ensure everyone is aware of the supportive services with the City and their right to access them and transition out of homelessness.