The Connection spoke with with Pathway Homes CEO Sylisa Lambert-Woodward and discussed Pathway Homes’ Housing First Model program, vouchers and what is on the horizon for residents in North Fairfax County. The following article appeared on their website on December 6, 2023.
Dedicated housing vouchers announced for an additional 50 individuals in Reston and Herndon.
Housing is a human right. So states the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Sylisa Lambert-Woodward is CEO of Pathway Homes, a Fairfax-based nonprofit organization that reaches out to some of the county’s most vulnerable adult residents. The organization serves adults experiencing homelessness or who are unhoused and with severe mental illness and/or co-occurring disorders, such as substance abuse, developmental disabilities, and physical disorders. “The mental health conditions manifest in a way that impacts their ability to function,” Lambert-Woodward said.
These county residents confront financial inequalities. Pathway serves people whose income level is 30 percent to 0 percent of the area average median income. An AMI of less than 30 percent is considered extremely low-income. Racial inequities are documented in the Fairfax County 2022 Point-in-Time Count, which found 1,191 people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January.
Fifty percent of those experiencing homelessness identified as Black or African American, even though only 10 percent of Fairfax County’s general population identifies as Black or African American. The Point-in-Time count of people experiencing homelessness is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at least every other year for any Continuum of Care (CoC) program, like that of Pathway, designed to promote a community-wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness.
A tent city on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2023 sees dozens of additional tents erected on the hill to shelter residents who are experiencing homelessness in North Fairfax County. Photo by Mercia Hobson.