County Sets Goal of 200 Jobs, 100 Housing Units and 400 Students to Help Katrina Victims

Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) announced at today's board meeting that the coalition of community, business and and religious groups has set these goals as a starting point. The group will attempt to create 200 jobs, provide 100 housing units and take in 200 schoolchildren in county schools. Here's the complete news release:

A regional coalition of government, schools, PTAs, business, nonprofit and nongovernmental officials today released a plan to provide support to people who were evacuated from their homes due to Hurricane Katrina and have made their way to Fairfax County. The plan expands beyond meeting the immediate first response needs into phase two, where long-term recovery will be addressed by helping people to reestablish their lives.
Fairfax Families Care is working with community partners in the public and private sectors to identify these additional opportunities to reach out to those in need. This second phase will match Katrina evacuees with jobs and housing, and provide room in county schools, an approach which will make the difference between survival and moving forward.
The plan is significant because it provides a framework for the county's current and future efforts to welcome Katrina evacuees through the coordinated provision of needed services. It builds upon ongoing efforts, which have included county assistance to over 75 families, school placements for approximately 100 students and short-term disaster relief provided by the Fairfax/Falls Church Red Cross to over 100 people.
The plan was made public by Fairfax Families Care, a newly formed group that has come together to leverage resources to provide long-term assistance to those touched by the tragedy of Katrina. Fairfax Families Care, or FFC, consists of the county's local government and school officials, and representatives from county businesses, nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations.
"Everybody understands that government has a responsibility to prepare us for disaster and then to help us recover, but other community partners play an important role too," said Gerald E. Connolly, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. "Since 9/11, we have all been very involved in disaster preparedness and recovery efforts. We recognize that the key to reestablishing lives after a natural disaster like Katrina is the combination of employment, long-term housing and access to schools."
More than four dozen representatives from public, private and nonprofit organizations collaborated to craft this plan. Participants included members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and Fairfax County School Board, county and school staff, the Fairfax County Council of PTAs, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, the Cappies, the Fairfax/Falls Church Red Cross, AOBA (Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington), the Salvation Army, Volunteer Fairfax, the Council on Homelessness, the Economic Development Authority, GRACE, the Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board, Inova Health System, Herndon Dulles Chamber of Commerce, McGuireWoods and the Northern Virginia Community College, among many others.
"We applaud this new plan because it strengthens the collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors that are already underway," said Catherine Hudgins, Hunter Mill District, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. "Businesses and organizations are already showing their generosity to those in great need. The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR) will contribute $20,000 to Fairfax Families Care for the specific purpose of housing assistance for persons displaced by Katrina. KSI Services Inc. will add one furnished apartment that will be rent-free for nine months to the housing supply that will be linked with Katrina evacuees."
"This new plan builds upon our community's ongoing assistance to people who have come here from the Gulf Coast," said Jane K. Strauss, Dranesville District, Fairfax County School Board member. "The schools have already opened their doors to children displaced by Katrina, the Red Cross has over a hundred people registered with them already, and county services requested so far include food stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, employment assistance and library cards. This new plan takes us one step further."
The plan is organized around three core areas: employment, housing and education. A "one-stop-shopping" approach girds the plan because FFC leaders recognize that during stressful times, the last thing someone unfamiliar to this area needs is the confusion of multiple venues in order to access services. Accessibility to a coordinated continuum of services, provided jointly by the public and private sectors, is a hallmark of the plan. Also highlighted in the plan is a major fundraising effort, so that scarce public funding and resources needn't be reallocated to provide this targeted assistance. Information both for people needing assistance and for those who want to assist in this second phase effort is available by calling the Fairfax County Katrina Hotline number, 703-817-7771.
"The importance of employment for people who have unexpectedly relocated to a new community cannot be overstated," said George Cave, chairman of the Board of Directors, Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. "Working with the Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board and the county's SkillSource Centers, the Chamber will be serving as a clearinghouse for employment opportunities for people who have moved here because of Katrina. This approach will allow us to welcome our new neighbors with jobs, bringing them hope of a brighter future as they reestablish their lives here in Fairfax County."
"We live in a caring and compassionate community," said Mark S. Ingrao, Vice President of Government Affairs Virginia, AOBA. "To complement the generosity of people in our community who have already opened their hearts and homes to our new neighbors, AOBA, representing the commercial and multi-family residential properties in our area, is working with county staff and the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority to identify vacant units in the county--either privately owned or FCRHA owned--that can be rented to evacuees from the Gulf Coast's damaged areas. This new plan provides a needed next step, assistance beyond initial disaster relief, linking people to longer-term housing and jobs."
Fairfax Families Care hopes to match people with 200 jobs and 100 long-term housing situations, and accommodate up to 400 children in the Fairfax school system.
To fund this effort to help our new neighbors and to facilitate an outlet for generosity that will build upon the important first response assistance provided by the American Red Cross and other disaster relief organizations, donations will be accepted through the Northern Virginia Community Foundation. Checks should be made out to "NVCF, Fairfax Families Care Fund" and sent to Fairfax Families Care Fund, c/o Northern Virginia Community Foundation, P.O. Box 11225, McLean, VA  22102-9225.
In addition, there will be a fundraiser produced by the Cappies to benefit families who have come to this region after having been displaced by the hurricane. The Katrina Aid show, an all-student, all-star showcase of performers from 23 high schools in Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24, at Hayfield Secondary School, 7630 Telegraph Road, Alexandria, Va. For tickets, please call 703-924-4759 or go to the Cappies' Web site at 

By Steve Fehr |  September 12, 2005; 1:32 PM ET  | Category:  Government
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