Housing in the Prince William County Area
In May, 2010, the Prince William Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted The 2011-2015 Consolidated Housing and Community Development Plan and Annual Action Plan for FY2011 to address the housing needs of the Prince William County Area including the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. The report includes a community vision statement which states the following: “The Prince William County Area envisions a community with quality housing and neighborhoods which are affordable to low- and moderate-income households, and which provides a safe, healthy environment in which to work and play.” This vision is far from a reality for too many of our citizens whose income is or has fallen so far below the Area Median Income (AMI) that they find themselves homeless because they can no longer make enough money to continue to live in their own community. In addition, too many of our citizens who have housing are cost-burdened. They are paying well in excess of the recommended 30% of their gross income towards housing, and they too find themselves in danger of losing their homes.
There are no public housing projects in our area. There are numerous federal and local housing assistance programs but most have long waiting lists, or the waiting lists are closed. Community nonprofit organizations assist where they can, but the need for affordable housing continues to grow at a faster pace than existing programs can meet. Gentrification has added to the lack of affordable housing as much of what was torn down or renovated is priced beyond the reach of those who cannot afford to pay fair market rents.
Despite the fact the Northern Virginia, including Fauquier and Prince William weathered the recent recession relatively well compared to other Virginia localities, demand for public services has increased significantly since 2007. The Prince William County Area, Fauquier County, and Culpeper County have seen a 131% increase of people receiving Supplemental Nutrition benefits (SNAP) while statewide the need increased 77%. The number of people receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits is up more than 16% since 2007 here, but only 7% statewide. People are worker harder and more hours and seeing little gain. Many are working two or more jobs. The most disturbing trend has been widening income disparities. Since the so-called recovery, workers are now actually earning less in a variety of occupations throughout the economy. Between 2009 and 2012, real median wages fell by 5% or more in five of the top 10 lower wage occupations: restaurant cooks, food preparation workers, home health aides, personal care aides, and maids and housekeepers. In Virginia, the wages of the lowest-earning workers have plunged more than 7% since before the recession, and the number of working poor is increasing. There are more than 10 million working adults in the U. S. who are living below the poverty level, an increase of 25% (Piedmont Business Journal Summer 2014)
The lack of affordable housing in this area is a critical problem and is changing the face of homelessness as many of our citizens who cannot make a living wage find themselves unable to afford to live in their own communities.
To determine what an individual or family can afford, and unit availability check the following link: http://www.socialserve.com/
Prosperity House's Mission Statement
It is our mission to provide safe and affordable transitional housing to individuals and families who are homeless, to help residents increase their skills and income and to help them achieve greater self-determination and obtain and remain in permanent housing.
Homelessness results from a complex set of circumstances that require people to choose between food, shelter, and other basic needs. Only a concerted effort to ensure jobs that pay a living wage, adequate support for those who cannot work, affordable housing, and access to health care will bring an end to homelessness. Eligibility for Prosperity House housing assistance is available for those who were previously self-sustaining but are experiencing episodic homelessness due to economic circumstances. Families and individuals in this category are presently employed, or have been employed.
Residents of Prosperity House are interviewed to identify existing barriers to permanent housing. Individualized Service Plans are developed to facilitate the movement to independent living and self-sufficiency. These services are aimed at self-empowerment, locating opportunities to increase educational levels and training needed to improve employment potential, increased opportunities for economic betterment, and strengthened skills in the areas of financial planning, family budgeting, and home management.