Volunteers Help Put a Face on Some of the Homeless in Fairfax County

Volunteers are making the rounds this week to help put a face on some of the homeless people living in Fairfax County, Va.

More than 100 homeless people are living in the county, despite its status as one of the nation's most affluent.

"Registry Week is really a chance to open up the eyes of our community," said Reston Interfaith CEO Kerri Wilson.

For the first time, county volunteers from the local nonprofit group FACETS and other organizations are taking to the streets to count, photograph and learn about the backgrounds of homeless people.

"These people are going through so much,” said Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins. “They've crafted a place for them. It's secure for them."

In 2012, Fairfax County reported that 50 percent of the homeless in the county are categorized as chronic homeless, meaning they suffer from mental illness. That number has jumped in the past two years, and the majority of them are in their mid-20s.

"I hope this campaign helps us realize we have to step up to this question of, are we going to walk away from this tonight and say, 'That's just the way people live'?" Hudgins said. “Well, it's not the way people should live."

Cedric Smith has been homeless for five years. "In five years from now, I'd like to be in my own apartment," he said.

He also wants to see more of his children, who live elsewhere in Virginia. "They're my primary, most important concern and they keep me going every day," he said.

Registry Week is a component of the 100,000 Homes Campaign -- a national initiative to help nonprofits and local governments make important decisions about how to prioritize and allocate housing and support resources.

To gather the most accurate population totals, geo-tracking is used to help pinpoint where the homeless live in order not to count them more than once.

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