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Stimulus program keeps 600 from homelessness in Virginia

A $2.4 million federal stimulus grant for Fairfax County has helped more than 600 people avoid becoming homeless, officials say, contributing to a double-digit decrease in annual homelessness estimates in the area.

County officials say the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-subsidized program, which began in July, provided rental assistance to 247 families. Most of that money came in the form of rental subsidies for families facing eviction, said Dean H. Klein, Fairfax's director of the Office to End and Prevent Homelessness.

"It's really a housing-first approach, and we've seen fantastic results so far," Klein said.

The program provides financial assistance to qualifying families for up to 18 months. Half of the grant must be spent within the first two years and the full amount must be dispersed within three years, or July 2012. Klein said about 23 percent of the funds have been used and that the money is likely to be used up within the next year, but officials are hoping HUD will continue funding for the program through its McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act programs.

As part of the program, called the Housing Opportunities Support Team, or HOST, Fairfax outsources six jobs to area nonprofits -- four to assist those seeking help and two full-time housing locators, who search for new houses or apartments for displaced residents.

By Derek Kravitz  |  May 20, 2010; 2:48 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax County  | Tags: Fairfax County homeless, HUD grant Fairfax, HUD housing assistance, Office to Prevent Homelessness, federal government homeless grant  
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