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Housing programs making big push

Today, 15 recently homeless families will have turkey and the trimmings in their own homes.

And a group working to end homelessness hopes to help 20 more families get housed in time for Christmas.

The Home for the Holidays effort has a goal of rapidly re-housing 35 area families in 100 days. It’s part of a state housing challenge, which kicked off Oct. 17 and aims to put 740 Virginia families back into permanent housing.

This effort is aimed primarily at homeless families, but another Fredericksburg-area initiative is getting people who’ve been homeless for long periods into housing.

In the past few years, Micah Ecumenical Ministries has been able to place about 150 homeless people in permanent housing.

The group works primarily with the chronically homeless—people who have been without a stable home for some time and who often have significant challenges to overcome.

Micah has seen many success stories over the past few years, said Director Meghann Cotter.

But getting people into stable homes—and keeping them there—can be expensive. Micah employees help clients get disability checks, find affordable housing and address the issues that crop up once they are housed.

Grants pay for some of the costs, but often that money doesn’t come often enough to meet the need. So Cotter hopes to establish a housing fund to help get people into housing. That money would then be replenished when the grant money comes in, creating a revolving fund that would then be available to help someone else.

The Sunshine Lady Foundation has committed $50,000 if Micah can match that amount.

“Micah believes the gift of permanent housing is the greatest display of hospitality that our neighbors in need can receive,” Cotter wrote in the agency’s latest newsletter.

Cotter said her agency will also be helped from the Home for the Holidays effort: As homeless families get into permanent housing, they’ll be less likely to fall into a spiral toward chronic homelessness and won’t need Micah’s services.

Amy Flowers Umble: 540/735-1973