Advocacy is woven throughout our mission and history as an important component in achieving long-term, systemic changes. Even with comprehensive services like those provided by Cornerstones and its partners, the growing housing and economic security gap in our region, and inequities for people of color, threatens the vitality of all who live and work in our community.
Cornerstones’ works with people who live in the communities we serve, our dedicated board and partners towards social change and justice that benefit the entire community. We support neighborhood, local, state, federal and private sector policies to:
- produce and preserve housing that is affordable and close to work or schools for inclusive and diverse neighborhoods and communities
- protect vulnerable renters and prevent displacement
- provide education, training and support for career pathway jobs
- create living wage jobs that help families build assets
- increase job access and remove barriers to employment for disadvantaged workers
- invest in children and youth, from cradle to career
- eliminate racial and social inequities in systems, policies and practices by promoting equity, inclusion and opportunity.
Our Partners and Campaigns
Housing and Homelessness
Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance (NVAHA)
Virginia Housing Alliance
National Alliance to End Homelessness
Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness
Fairfax County Affordable Housing Advisory Committee (AHAC)
Economic Security, Resiliency, Opportunity, Justice
Below are examples of Cornerstones’ recent advocacy work:
- Cornerstones has played a leading role in the implementation of the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness, which has resulted in a nearly 50% reduction in homelessness in Fairfax-Falls Church since 2018! Read the Retrospective presented to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (summary slides) earlier this year and what’s next to finish the job!
- Cornerstones CEO Kerrie Wilson serves as Co-Chair of the Fairfax County Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. AHAC developed a Community-Wide Housing Strategic Plan with 25 recommendations on capital, land use, homeownership and housing for vulnerable populations to be implemented over the next two years. That plan was followed with recommendations for an annual affordable housing production goal and the county resource requirement to support the goal.
Cornerstones joined forces with nonprofit organizations from around the state for the Virginia Housing Alliance’s annual Housing Advocacy Day, to speak on behalf of policies and funding that support affordable housing. Kerrie Wilson, CEO of Cornerstones, and Jill Norcross, Cornerstones Board Member, met with the offices of Senator Janet Howell, Delegate Ken Plum, and Delegate Jennifer Boysko to discuss the importance of affordable housing for our clients and the impact of funding for housing and support services.
Following the announcement of an estimated $1.2 billion shortfall in revenue at the state level, there was deep concern that housing and human services would be targeted for cuts to reduce the shortfall. Last year, the General Assembly approved a $3 million increase to the Housing Trust Fund over the FY16-18 budget. Advocates spoke on behalf of defending these gains in the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, which provides critical support for the development, acquisition and preservation of affordable housing as well as accompanying support services. Consistent allocations over the past five years and the $3 million increase indicate support for these priorities from our elected officials and demonstrate our legislators’ understanding of the importance of affordable housing in the overall health of their districts.
Additionally, advocates spoke on behalf of increased resources for permanent supportive housing for adults with serious mental illnesses. This best practice reduces and prevents homelessness among adults with serious mental illnesses by bolstering individuals with rental assistance and support services to maintain stable housing. This approach to housing Virginia’s most vulnerable sees positive outcomes – with a success rates varying between 85-100% of clients not returning to homelessness and cost savings to localities who can avoid housing these individuals in jails, hospital emergency rooms, or mental health facilities.
The General Assembly session ended on February 25th, and despite a tough budgeting session, the Assembly has voted to maintain the increased level of funding for the Virginia Housing Trust Fund and additional supports for permanent supportive housing for individuals with serious mental illnesses, choosing to draw on the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” as opposed to cutting these critical services. However, Cornerstones’ work is not done! Budgeting at the County Level has already begun with the release of the Fairfax County Executive’s proposed budget, which does not include a tax increase. This will mean human services will need to compete with other worthy needs for limited funding.
If you would like to participate in Cornerstones’ advocacy efforts this spring, please contact Amelie Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org or (571) 323-9556.