Every time I look at the Fairfax County web page, I see a link titled “Ending Homelessness.” I never looked at it until now, figuring it was another community essentially saying that “someone needs to do something.” I have heard this before – a mix of vague instruction and diffusion of responsibility. It makes me cringe to hear folks say that, knowing full well that they aren’t going to do anything.
So today I clicked on the link and found that Fairfax County actually has a plan. The last place I lived, Crap City, MA, had a plan as well – to make the city less attractive to homeless people so they would go somewhere else. That was both a bullshit strategy and an ineffective one.
Here is Fairfax County’s strategic plan to fight homelessness (PDF). It lays out the scope of the problem, a way of dealing with it and seems somewhat realistic. People have actually put thought into this, not just hot air.
Something that impressed me about Fairfax’s plan is that there is a section for what you can do to fight homelessness. It isn’t much, but it’s something. I think we should all spend some time working directly with or otherwise supporting homeless or low-income people to help them better their lives. There are plenty of opportunities – food banks, soup kitchens, shelters, education programs and more. Having worked with homeless folks and at-risk youth for more than two years, I can tell you it’s an incredible and very humbling experience.
What do you currently do or plan to do in this effort? Can you commit to helping others even a few hours per week?
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs