Fighting Homelessness in Fairfax County

Every time I look at the Fairfax County web page, I see a link titled “Ending Homelessness.” I never looked at it until now, figuring it was another community essentially saying that “someone needs to do something.” I have heard this before – a mix of vague instruction and diffusion of responsibility. It makes me cringe to hear folks say that, knowing full well that they aren’t going to do anything.

So today I clicked on the link and found that Fairfax County actually has a plan. The last place I lived, Crap City, MA, had a plan as well – to make the city less attractive to homeless people so they would go somewhere else. That was both a bullshit strategy and an ineffective one.

Here is Fairfax County’s strategic plan to fight homelessness (PDF). It lays out the scope of the problem, a way of dealing with it and seems somewhat realistic. People have actually put thought into this, not just hot air.

Something that impressed me about Fairfax’s plan is that there is a section for what you can do to fight homelessness. It isn’t much, but it’s something. I think we should all spend some time working directly with or otherwise supporting homeless or low-income people to help them better their lives. There are plenty of opportunities – food banks, soup kitchens, shelters, education programs and more. Having worked with homeless folks and at-risk youth for more than two years, I can tell you it’s an incredible and very humbling experience.

What do you currently do or plan to do in this effort? Can you commit to helping others even a few hours per week?

9 Comments so far

  1. IHatePDFs (unregistered) on July 30th, 2007 @ 5:00 pm

    Please make some sort of indication when linking to PDF files. Thanks.

  2. Carl Weaver (unregistered) on July 30th, 2007 @ 7:09 pm

    The indication is the link that shows at the bottom of your browser when you float the mouse cursor over the URL.

  3. PSolus (unregistered) on July 30th, 2007 @ 9:51 pm

    That is true, Carl, but inserting something along the lines of (PDF) following the anchor text is still a very good idea.

  4. Carl Weaver (unregistered) on July 30th, 2007 @ 10:51 pm

    True, Psolus. That’s easy to do. But tell me – why does it matter that it’s a PDF?

  5. PSolus (unregistered) on July 30th, 2007 @ 11:18 pm

    Among other things, it’s a “jarring user experience;” Jakob can express it much better that I can: go to and search for “pdf”.

    Here’s an example: PDF: Unfit for Human Consumption

  6. Carl Weaver (unregistered) on July 30th, 2007 @ 11:56 pm

    I will check that out. Thanks for the link. And yeah – PDF is not a good format for browsing, obviously, but it is great for document delivery and distribution. You’d think something like that above link would be in HTML. Oh, well.

    I had no idea how many people hated PDFs or were that upset about them. I will try to make note of that for future posts.

  7. Don (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 9:57 am

    I try to put indicators but for my own satisfaction I use the excellent Firefox Extention TargetAlert. I get a hover icon for PDFs and other specialized link types. It also indicates when a link is going to open a new window/tab.

  8. Dawn (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

    Too bad the only discussion was about PDFs and not actually about the problem at hand. Which probably explains the broader approach to the issue as well.

  9. Don (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 2:49 pm

    And now we have a discussion about the discussion!

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