Work has begun on a desperately needed 24-bed emergency shelter in Fairfax County, where the demand for such aid has risen as the recession has deepened, according to the head of a counity service agency.
The shelter will be open to county residents who are homeless because of eviction, family violence or other problems. They will be allowed to stay a maximum of 30 days, and will be counseled on ways to cope with domestic problems and helped to find new housing and jobs, officials said.
The number of people seeking emergenc help of all kinds has doubled in Fairfax County in the last year, said Eleanor Kennedy, executive director of United Community Ministries (UCM).
Most are "people who are out of work and can't pay their rent, and the landlords are not very sympathetic at all. So they get evicted," Kennedy said.
UCM is a private, nonprofit organization that provides all types of emergency aid to county residents. Approximately 12,000 persons received help from UCM last year, and indications are that this year's total will be double that amount, this year Kennedy said.
The Rte. 1 corridor, which stretches along both sides of Rte. 1 south of Alexandria, and the Bailey's Cross-roads areahave the dubious distinction of being home to the largest number of needy people in Fairfax County, she said.
The 12-bedroom, 24-bed shelter to be constructed in shelter available to these citizens, according to Kennedy.
A $261,800 contract for construction has been awarded to Dittmar Contracting Co. of Arlington, and another $28,000 will be spent on fees and permits, according to the county Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Site preparation has begun, the RHA said.
The home, to be known as Mondloch House II, is expected to open in about a year. It will be the first facility designed as a family shelter, said Kennedy. She added that "we wanted only a shelter, nothing fancy, because we had to keep cutting back on the cost."
It will go up next to Mondloch House I, a five-bedroom, 10-bed emergency shelter that opened in 1978 in a converted farmhouse. The older facility has housed more than 675 persons so far.
The new home is being paid for by the Fairfax County government and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Route One Corridor Housing Cin., a nonprofit spinoff of United Community Ministries, sponsored the planning of the Mondloch II and, with its parent organization, will provide counseling for residents.
The only other emergency residence for families in Fairfax is Shelter House, a county-operated group of four apartments in the Seven Corners area.