Fairfax County will be abuzz next week when volunteers spread across the area to gather data on the county's homeless population. They will gather individual histories, names and will take photographs, as part of the county's 10-year plan to eradicate homelessness.
"We want to put 150 of the county's homeless in housing in the next three years," said Sherry Eddlekamp, the South County corridor volunteer captain. "We don't want the homeless population to think that we are locating them to let the police or authorities know where they are, and I know that's a big concern for them."
Eddlekamp will direct more than 50 volunteers in the endeavor. "The purpose is to get our homeless off the streets and get them the help that they need," she said. "They would like to have a home, and the trick is getting them into a home."
Fairfax County and Fairfax City have about 2,900 temporarily homeless, and about 300 are chronically homeless. The county anticipates that half of its homeless population will be in supportive housing within three years.
Additionally, the county's homeless will be "geo tracked."
"The personalized data will help the nonprofits and local governments make important decisions about how to prioritize and allocate housing and support resources," according to a county press release.
The effort is part of the 100,000 Homes Campaign, which advocates offering housing to the homeless.
"Housing First is based on the simple idea that a homeless individual will be most successful when able to make his or her own informed decisions about housing and health," according to the 100,000 Homes Campaign website. "Housing and services are made available when a homeless individual chooses them, not as a requirement or mandatory condition. This breeds a sense of independence and self-efficacy that is often instrumental in helping individuals remain safe, healthy and housed."
The counting will begin at 4 a.m. Monday and continue through Wednesday.
The volunteers will have a debriefing March 4 at the Jubilee Christian Center in Fairfax at 8:30 a.m.