Executive Director & CEO Corner
In May, we will be hosting one of the most important Housing Forums we’ve ever planned. It won’t be easy or light. It will, in fact, be hard. It will make us dig deep and face difficult truths about what it means to be human. And it will remind us that we all share a common experience: Trauma is part of our lives. Mental health is part of our lives. None of us are immune. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 129 Americans die by suicide every day. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., and the rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged white men. I am willing to bet we all have lost someone to suicide, or we know someone who has. One of my closest friends died by suicide in 2008 – and for those of us who loved him, we didn’t know he was struggling. We didn’t expect it. It came as a shock. Compound that feeling by hundreds of people — parents, spouses, friends, colleagues, and fans — every day in our country, and the shockwaves become obvious: Our country’s mental health crisis reaches us all, and those of us on the front lines working with people struggling with challenges including homelessness, PTSD, domestic violence, addiction, and job loss know every day that our own jobs are not an easy lift. But just as we all work to help them survive and thrive, we too need to work on ourselves, building our resilience, focusing on wellness, and finding strategies to prioritize self-care in a world that stops for no one.
We’re lining up additional speakers and topics now, and I’m excited to announce that our keynote presenter is Kevin Hines, an award winning, global speaker, best-selling author, and documentary filmmaker. Kevin is among the one percent who survived a suicidal jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, and he’ll help us understand his mantra: “Life is a gift, that is why they call it the present. Cherish it always.”
The Forum will be, as always, free to our partner non-profits, government agencies, and others who work with individuals experiencing homelessness, part of our ongoing effort to bring these important topics to the very people carrying some of our world’s heaviest loads. I hope to see you there.
In the Spotlight
GolfAid: Are You In?
Thursday, March 5, 2020
3:00 to 6:00 p.m.
There’s less than a month remaining until HomeAid Northern Virginia’s 3rd Annual GolfAid Fundraiser at TopGolf Loudoun, so register today and make plans to play and network with the region’s top homebuilders, trade partners, and industry leaders, with three hours of unlimited golf, great food, and an open bar – all in climate-controlled hitting bays.
Interested in bringing a crowd? Then be sure to look into our special registration option of $1,500, which covers a full bay of six golfers for the price of just five. Other options are $300 per person for the full TopGolf and networking package, or $200 per person for the networking-only option. Everyone in attendance will be eligible to buy raffle tickets for a chance to win the top prize – a three-month corporate platinum TopGolf membership, a $1,400 value!
No matter your preference, all of the funds raised at the event will help support our mission of building new lives for Northern Virginia’s homeless: Through our Shelter Program and Turnover Program, HomeAid builds and renovates non-profit facilities at a 30-100% savings, enabling our shelter partners to improve their facilities while focusing their limited resources on critical programming that helps their clients become self-sufficient. Register today!
Did You Know?
In Northern Virginia, from 2000 to 2018, the area median income increased 42% while the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the City of Alexandria, for example, increased 102%. The City of Alexandria, in fact, estimates a renter needs to make $68,320 a year to rent a one-bedroom apartment, which is more than the average salary of Alexandria teachers, firefighters, and librarians.
Source: Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance, via the Catholic Herald
In Your Neighborhood
HomeAid, Van Metre, VCI Build Custom Playhouse for Second Story
February is a month for showing some love, and on Friday, February 28, HomeAid Northern Virginia, Van Metre Homes, and VCI Contractors will deliver a custom designed playhouse to a townhome owned by Second Story. The six-foot tall playhouse with its own little front porch will be the jewel of the townhome’s small backyard, where it will welcome the children of single moms enrolled in the Second Story for Young Mothers program. The playhouse marks the second “Project Playhouse” that Van Metre has delivered over two consecutive years but the first one that was custom-designed and built for townhouse – and HOA – specifications.
Second Story’s program for young mothers provides housing, counseling, and training to homeless women age 18 to 21 who are pregnant or have young children and are homeless. Women and their children can stay in the program up to 18 months, during which time the young mothers receive comprehensive services including counseling and therapy; life skills; parenting classes and workshops; and job skills, budgeting and financial skills training. Women are required to work or go to school at least 30 hours a week, and 45 percent of their earnings are placed into savings or applied to debt reduction.
“Our overall goal is to break the cycle of poverty, abuse, or homelessness and help single homeless moms turn their lives around so that they – with their children – can live independently,” said Judith Dittman, executive director at Second Story. “So many of our clients can be at risk of losing their children because they simply don’t have the support system, experience, or skills needed to provide a stable home for a young child. We work to turn that reality around, keep families together, and show moms the way toward independence.
“Gifts like the playhouse mean the world to our program,” she added. “This particular townhome is the smallest in our system, and it doesn’t have a dedicated playroom. So to have an outdoor playhouse, where kids will have a safe and imaginative place to play when they’re home, is an enormous benefit. It encourages being outside, promotes play skills and physical health, and it fosters a bond between a mom and child to have somewhere to play together. It also makes the townhome welcoming and warm – a real family house where moms and their children can live, work, and play as they learn how to rewrite their futures together.”
Evelyn Austin, senior marketing manager for Van Metre Homes, helped coordinated the effort and particularly enjoyed the extra challenge of meeting the unique needs of this year’s project. “We knew we wanted to build and donate another playhouse this year, but we also realized early on that because of the location, we’d need permission from the HOA and would need to work within the confines of townhomes’ small backyard sizes. Our in-house architect revised the plans, and it’s really cute. We love helping out, giving back to the community, and knowing that something that we can build will mean so much to moms and their kids. Philanthropy is something Van Metre Homes really believes in, and this project is such a visible reminder of the many forms that ‘giving back’ can take!”
The playhouse was built at Van Metre’s BASE facility in Winchester.
Did You Know?
An apartment is considered affordable if people making 60% of the area median income spend 30% or less of their income on rent. Now, those market-rate affordable apartments (MARKs), are nearly gone: Officials in Arlington and Alexandria say they have lost approximately 29,000 MARKs in the past 19 years mostly due to rent increases. Alexandria estimates that only 8% of its rental housing is affordable.
Source: Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance, via the Catholic Herald
In Your Community
HomeAid Northern Virginia's 2020 Housing Forum: Suicide Prevention, Mental Health Awareness
HomeAid Northern Virginia’s FREE Housing Forum has become widely known as the region’s most unique and valuable opportunity to meet shelter partners, share best practices, and gather take-aways from the most influential thought leaders working to end homelessness. And on May 14, we’ll be taking this gold-standard program to the next level, with an all-encompassing workshop-style day focused on suicide prevention, trauma-informed care, mental health and wellness, mindfulness, and overall self-care for providers who work with clients experiencing homelessness.
How will we do it? By bringing in one of our nation’s most powerful speakers on these critically important topics: Keynote Speaker Kevin Hines, author of Cracked Not Broken, Surviving and Thriving After A Suicide Attempt, global public speaker, and award winning documentary filmmaker of Suicide: The Ripple Effect. In 2000, he attempted to take his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge – and became one of the one percent to survive. Kevin now travels the world sharing his story of hope, healing, and recovery, while teaching people of all ages the art of wellness and the ability to survive pain with true resilience.
It’s a Housing Forum you cannot miss: Save the Date and watch for registration information soon; registration is free, but capacity is capped at 250 people. Other speakers and details to be announced soon. Stay tuned!
Did You Know?
To help increase affordable housing, Arlington County’s 2020 budget added $1,521,872 in new affordable housing funding. The budget now includes $16 million for the Affordable Housing Investment Fund and $9.3 million for housing grants. They additionally created a new position of housing coordinator to expedite affordable housing development proposals through the approval process. The City of Alexandria’s 2020 budget added $1 million in new funding. Its budget now includes $8 million for the Housing Trust Fund.
Source: Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance, via the Catholic Herald
Making It Count
A Year of Gratitude in 2019
We have a lot to be proud of as we look back on 2019, a year in which we completed 13 renovation projects, including 10 turnover projects – double the number completed in 2018 when we launched this new program! We worked with six non-profit organizations, three Builder Captains, and 83 trade partners. The result? More than 135 new opportunities for women, men, veterans, and children to live in stable, safe homes and take part in life- and job-skills training programs to help them get back on their feet and live a life of independence. A 60 percent savings in renovation costs for our non-profit partners. The continuation of 15,000+ nights of uninterrupted soup kitchen dinners. And an investment of $1.4 million in our communities.
One of our biggest sources of pride in 2019 was an important – and impactful – increase in third-party events, which vastly expands our capacity to plan and coordinate events, engage new supporters, widen our reach through education, and spread the word about our mission. Thanks to three corporate golf tournaments and a cornhole tournament, we were the grateful beneficiary of more than $150,000! It’s an exciting new way that our supporters are able to make a difference and advance our mission outside of the more visible building and renovation of homes.
No matter how you support HomeAid, every effort counts, and we ended the year with a feeling of gratitude that can’t quite be put into words. We will try, however, to help share the highlights of our year: Be sure to check out our just-published 2019 Impact Report, and watch for it in your mailboxes soon!
And then, join us and help us do it all again in 2020! How will you choose to get involved this year?
Spreading the News about HomeAid
Sometimes, support for HomeAid comes from people and places one might not always expect it. Sometimes, it comes in ways that for the giver don’t seem all that big, but for HomeAid is huge. Such is the case with longtime supporter John Yannetti, a mortgage loan officer with Citizens One Home Loans, who has been involved with HomeAid for many years and who consistently shows his support through donations and, perhaps best of all, by helping spread the word about who we are and what we do. Thanks to John, other companies have gotten involved who may never have found us without his nudge. Colleagues have learned about homelessness in Northern Virginia, and many have decided to take action. Organizations have learned that we exist and have taken the important first step of learning more about us. Supporting our mission comes in a lot of ways, and John is one of our best examples of that. Thank you, John, for your years of encouragement and support.
Q: What inspired you to get involved with HomeAid?
A: I first learned of HomeAid and the great work they do through industry events and publications in my role as a mortgage loan officer. HomeAid is and always has been very active in promoting their mission within the local real estate/building community, and I appreciate the regular reminders HomeAid provides that there are many less fortunate individuals and families out there who need a helping hand. I’m grateful that HomeAid makes it so easy to support their cause, and knowing that every donation is put to good use really made it easy for me to get – and stay – involved.
Q: When you tell others about HomeAid, you’re helping spread the word about our important work … and often, we end up with new supporters. What do you tell people about HomeAid, its mission, and its work? How do you encourage others to get involved?
A: Truthfully, the HomeAid message and mission resonates on its own merit; all I tell people when the opportunity arises is something along the lines of, ‘HomeAid is doing great work for a very worthy cause, and you should check them out.’ I send people to the website, and, from there, people make their own decisions. I’ve found it doesn’t take much for those interested in investigating to see the work HomeAid is doing as worthy and deciding on their own that they want to support their efforts in some way. As an example of just how easy it can be, when I was approached for this Spotlight, I wasn’t sure that my input would further the cause to any great degree. I asked the opinion of a good friend who I trust and respect. Not only were they able to help me see a perspective that I was missing, but, at the end of the email conversation they said this, ‘You will have an opportunity through the Q & A to help bring more awareness to the problem, and that will help raise more support and more money. It’s working already; now that I’m aware of HomeAid, we would like to give for 2020. Please hook me up with the right person.’
Okay, then! I didn’t see that coming!
Q: What has most surprised you in learning about homelessness in Northern Virginia?
A: That it can even exist in this land of plenty that we call home. We may need to look more closely to see the problem than we would perhaps in an urban setting, but it’s real and is being battled daily by our friends at HomeAid.
Q: Tell us about your career with Citizens One; what do you love most about your career?
A: I’ve been in the mortgage industry for decades and with Citizens One for a little more than six years now. While mortgage origination can be grueling at times, I’m very grateful for the opportunities our business affords me. I’m able to earn a decent living, which allows me to provide for myself and those close to me while also being able to give modestly to organizations such as HomeAid. Gaining the trust of customers who then allow me to assist them with some important decisions in their lives is a fulfilling part of my job. The pace is fast, but I love the flexibility of not being tied to a 9-5 schedule and the idea that one can continue doing this work at some level for a long, long time. More experience is better when it comes to mortgage origination!
NVBIA Presidents Ball
HomeAid Northern Virginia staff enjoyed NVBIA’s 2020 Presidents Ball, where we helped celebrate the association’s accomplishments over the past year, applauded 2019 President Alicia Cox Skoug for her service, and helped welcome NVBIA’s 2020 President and HomeAid supporter Gene Frogale of Annandale Millwork and Allied Systems Corp.
In the News
After a major renovation of a circa 1811 building in Alexandria by HomeAid and Builder Captain Craftmark Homes, 60 formerly incarcerated woman can take part in the Guest House’s re-entry and support program annually. Meet Helenia Bragg, one of the lucky residents who credits Guest House for saving her life, in this article in the Fairfax Times.
Collaborating for Affordability
In January, Kristyn Burr attended an Open House at the Fairfax Presbyterian Church, helping to provide information for attendees about a collaboration that HomeAid Northern Virginia will take part in this year with Habitat for Humanity Northern Virginia and Homestretch. The effort, which will result in 10 housing units, seeks to provide additional affordable housing in the region. The church is donating property upon which the townhomes will be built.
A heartfelt thanks to the HomeAid Northern Virginia team who assembled over 40 winter care kits full of personal essentials such as shampoo and conditioner, hand sanitizer, razors and shaving cream, hats, gloves, scarves, and socks, which Executive Director and CEO Kristyn Burr with HomeAid board member Worth Jenkins, delivered to Winchester Rescue Mission in Winchester, VA, on January 30th to be distributed to those experiencing homelessness in the area.
Big gratitude to Centerview Title Group, housed in the same building as our headquarters, for coordinating a collection of household essentials for our Welcome Home basket program. Collections like these always go a long way in easing the transition for families moving in to HomeAid-renovated homes, and helps our nonprofit partners focus their limited funds on supportive programs rather than on household supplies!
HomeAid Northern Virginia Executive Director and CEO and HomeAid America Board member Kristyn Burr attended the International Builders Show in Las Vegas in January, also attending the first Board meeting of the year & a Visioning Session led by Jennifer Blackmon of the Ritz Carlton Leadership Center. It was a week of making new connections and renewing old ones, with representatives from the Chapter Advisory Council of HomeAid chapters all over the U.S.!
Congrats! Scott Larson, former executive director of HomeAid Orange County for 21 years, was named CEO of HomeAid America on October 14, 2019. While at HomeAid Orange County, Scott worked to facilitate 33 housing developments, with more than 975 beds and $64 million in project value, since 1998. “HomeAid is the most life-changing work ever established by the homebuilding industry,” he said. We are excited for what’s to come under Scott’s leadership!
Save the Date
3rd Annual GolfAid Fundraiser for HomeAid Northern Virginia – Thursday, March 5, 2020, Top Golf Loudoun, VA – Bays Filling Fast, Register Today!
NVBIA Meet the Builder – Thursday, March 19, 2020,Waterford Springfield (note new location), Springfield, VA
Housing Forum – Thursday, May 14, 2020, Reston Community Center, Reston, VA – This event is geared towards those who work in the field. FREE.
11th Annual Builders and Friends BBQ – Thursday, June 18, 2020, The Barn at One Loudoun, Ashburn, VA
Toll Brothers Charity Golf Event – Monday, June 22, 2020, Location TBD (Proceeds to benefit HomeAid Northern Virginia!)
6th Annual Golf Tournament – Friday, September 18, 2020, Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club, Leesbury, VA
19th Annual Gala & Auction – Saturday, November 14, 2020, Lansdowne Resort & Spa, Leesburg, VA