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Bulova Talks Poverty, High Cost of Housing in Fairfax County

The chairman of the Board of Supervisors was part of a panel at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria on Thursday that included poverty experts.

Residents of Fairfax County who make minimum wage could work 24 hours a day, seven days a week and still couldn’t afford to live in a one bedroom apartment due to high housing prices, said the chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors on Thursday.

That may be why 50 percent of the county’s approximately 1,500 homeless people have jobs but live in the woods, shelters or cars, said Sharon Bulova, speaking at a panel on poverty held at in Alexandria. Fairfax County has a population of 1.1 million with 60,000 people classified as living in poverty.

“They don’t make enough money to keep a roof over their heads,” she said. “Housing is expensive.”

She said the county works closely with its school system to ensure that students who live at the poverty level have a roof and food. Children have become the poorest age group in the country and it’s usually those who are being raised by single mothers who are the poorest, according to poverty experts who also spoke on the panel.

Other panelists were Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers, and Peter Edelman, co-founder of the Children's Defense Fund. Panelists were interviewed by public television talk show host Tavis Smiley and author and educator Cornel West as part of Smiley and West's "Poverty Tour" to eight states.

“We are committed to ending homelessness as we know it,” Bulova said.

She recalled moving into a new neighborhood, going out for a run and stumbling across a homeless camp with three members that was “one mile from my new home. This was my neighbor and I needed to care about that.”

The county, which had a median household income of over $100,000 in 2009, now has an office specifically charged with preventing homelessness, she said. In 2009, Virginia had a median income of $59,330 and the United States, $50,221.

She added that the county’s faith community has been instrumental in raising awareness about the region’s homelessness issue. Churches, mosques and synagogues recently all participated in an organized anti-hypothermia program, raising awareness among their members.

In turn, it became a personal issue to those members who then “turned to the Fairfax government and said we want to address this” as a community, Bulova said.

“An impediment to our progress would be denial,” she said. “We have to acknowledge we have pockets of poverty.”

Ron September 17, 2012 at 11:19 AM
It is not a rant. The County does subsidize and it's well known. It's not surprising that you didn't find it on the web site. They like to hide things that waste our tax money. The simple solution is to just get rid of it. Why is fair for someone who works for the County to get subsidized housing when someone in the private sector who makes the same income and gets far less generous benefits gets no subsidy? If you can find a rational explanation for that policy, then please elighten all of us.
Ron September 17, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Peter: Your story is what we should be hearing not all this bleeding heart stuff. If you are willing to work hard and you are honest, you should be able to make your way in this Country.
Jonathan Erickson September 18, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Maybe the faith community is part of the fraud problem. Who said anything about tax deductible, we know how much money Kaine, Wolfe, Allen, Romney and Obama have raised when they report their monthly state takes they should cut a 5% check to the government. Homeowners association that are not based on a faimlys income are all about improving their areas at the expense of the people who make less money. Tax the associations and tax them extra for not paying for such a long time.
Formerteacher October 02, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Do you want to know why real estate taxes are so high in Fairfax County? Because it is now a "Sanctuary" city for ILLEGAL ALIENS. This rapidly growing population is receiving free services that LEGAL citizens must pay for without having any choice in the matter. The cost of free meals for all their kids in FCPS, the cost of all the interpreters to communicate with them about their kids is soaring. The cost of disability payments they receive (YES THEY DO!) is the reason our taxes are soaring. All their anchor babies, some of which are disabled costs this county millions and the LEGAL population is footing the bill. You would think the cost of having a disabled child would stop them from having more kids. IT DOESN'T. The illegals are becoming very organized and know how to work the system. They are not all pitiful sad sacs. Most have on average 4 kids (most have more) and alot of them are not married to each other. Teachers, firemen, police officers are having their salaries frozen for years ( and they don't make much to begin with) so that the tax dollars paid by LEGAL citizens can go towards supporting the CRIMINAL population. Vote this criminal politician, MS. BULLOVA, out of office and elect someone willing to uphold the laws of this country.
Formerteacher October 02, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Bullova wants the LEGAL population to pay for the ILLEGAL population. After 4 yrs o teaching and a Masters Degree I qualified for affordable housing. Why? Because MILLIONS of FCPS' budget was allotted to buying free meals for all the illegal anchor kids while the teacher's salaries were frozen for years. Teachers are now having to pay 5% of their salary towards their pension. Their salaries are already so low this is a huge burden. Bulova et al also horribly mismanaged the school pension fund whey they invested in the HUGE housing bubble. Anyone with common sense (let alone someone in charge of the pension fund) could see that the housing bubble would burst. Vote her OUT. NOW.

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