One would never know that the person sitting next to them in Chemistry or English class was homeless. This is because that person and their family are provided with housing from the Homestretch organization. Homestretch has almost 70 units of scatter-site housing throughout
Homestretch provides housing to over 100 homeless families a year with over 300 children. The goal of this organization is to help families get back on their feet and to give them better lives. They help them to secure permanent housing and gain the knowledge they need to live happy and fulfilling lives on their own. In fact, 90% of families that enter the program graduate successfully and are able to then stand on their own feet.
Homestretch has incredible success rates. 50% of clients were unemployed upon entering the program; 88% were employed upon departing the program, and the average rise in income for all Homestretch clients was 53% (including those who came in unemployed). Homestretch families repaid debts totaling $76,000 and placed a total of $32,000 of their monthly earnings into savings accounts for when they leave the program. 25% of all clients became debt free, and all families are making very significant process in doing the same.
These numbers are what make Homestretch a national model. In the past, over 80% of families who entered the program successfully graduated, meaning they secured permanent housing and attained self-sufficiency.
The organization puts much emphasis on the importance of education. Homestretch works with various academic and vocational schools to provide opportunities to adults and youth to hone their skills and increase their earning power. Nearly half of all adult clients take some sort of academic or vocational program in addition to employment. Homestretch is able to help many clients attain full or partial scholarships to attend NOVA, ACE and other accredited programs. Many high school and elementary students in the program are able to achieve straight A’s despite their family’s history of a rocky background.
50% of families in the program are survivors of domestic violence; other families have fled from war in
Homestretch puts its main focus on the children. Homeless children are more likely to drop out of school, develop chronic illnesses and become involved in the criminal justice system. Homestretch recognizes this and does everything possible to help students do well academically and complete school. Homestretch provides a wide range of services to students including back packs filled with school supplies, back to school clothing and shoes, academic tutoring for any child that needs it, putting computers in the homes to help with homework, weekly life skills classes and even birthday gifts and birthday cakes on each child’s birthday.
The goal of Homestretch is to provide school-aged children the opportunity to be successful at home and that success will transfer to school. So, while you may not know who in your class may be experiencing tough times at home, you should know that there are struggles even in our own community and there are wonderful organizations like Homestretch to lessen the effects of homelessness.
Homestretch is partially funded through the Fairfax County Community Development program, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the City of
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