Terry and her husband, hard-working parents of three young children, were struggling to make ends meet and living in Section 8 housing in New York. Their apartment was run by what Terry called “a slum lord” who would not respond to their urgent and repeated requests to make repairs to their home. It was when a ceiling fell through in a bedroom where her children, ages five, eight and nine, were playing that she and her husband knew they had to start a new life.
Terry visited her brother who lives in the Reston area and decided that Reston is where she and her husband should work and raise their children. Her family quickly packed their things and moved in with Terry’s brother.
Terry learned about Reston Interfaith (now Cornerstones) housing, and after an interview with Cornerstones to assess their housing options, she and her family qualified for H.O.U.S.E. (Housing OpportUnities Strengthen Everyone), Cornerstones’ signature housing program. Terry and her husband had poor credit due to withholding rent payment from their slum lord in an attempt to force the completion of the much needed repairs. The H.O.U.S.E. program is for households with low income or facing other barriers to stable and affordable permanent housing such as bad credit, high debt, or past evictions. In many cases, those households are paying 50 percent or more of their income toward housing costs, leaving little or nothing for basic needs such as childcare, transportation, and health related expenses.
Terry and her husband committed to a H.O.U.S.E . services program to include working with a case manager and moved into a three-bedroom town home owned by Cornerstones, which Terry said, “Seemed brand new. It was in good condition. We were impressed!”
Terry, who secured employment at local high school, and her husband, then employed by a national retailer, utilized a variety of resources provided by Cornerstones, especially money management programs. It’s been nine years since Terry and her family moved to Reston. Because of their good-standing they were recently approved to move into a larger home where her oldest son, for the first time, has a room of his own.
Terry said about Cornerstones, “I loved them. They were so helpful to me over the years. They pulled us through a lot.” When asked what advice she may have for other families who may find themselves in similar circumstances, she focused on giving back, “ Try to get self-sufficient as soon as possible so that others in need can use the houses provided by Cornerstones.”
Those others may have to wait for housing. The effects of sequestration have exacerbated the affordable housing crisis — Cornerstones lost nearly 30 approved housing vouchers, preventing local homeless families from securing a stable place to live.
Cornerstones will continue to monitor the impact of the loss of housing vouchers, reduction in food stamps and other programs and bring information about how this affects families in our community. If you have any questions about advocacy at Cornerstones or wish to become involved in efforts to help families like Terry’s, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ahmadiyya Women’s Group for monthly drop off lunch catering.
Kathy Brennan and the moms of Wee Play for supporting the shelter’s Elf Store and Santa’s Workshop.
Booz Allen for hosting a holiday party for the children at the shelter.
Jared Decker for a successful Eagle Scout project collecting needed material for the shelter.
The Eckert family, the Pacelli family, and the Wiltse family for making Christmas bright!
Derek Fiorenza and Fioerenza’s Food For Friends for catering lunch.
GMU student volunteers for joining us for the semester.
Herndon Rotary for the truck load of diapers and wipes.
Dee Idnani and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax for hosting a Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday party for children at the shelter.
Jow Ga Shaolin Institute for their support of our clients.
Rokhsana Kamal for catering dinner monthly.
Diane Lanigan, long serving volunteer and donor, for serving meals each month, and providing supplies for our outreach clients and their canine companions.
McLean Bible Church for the huge donation of blankets.
Volunteer Elves Jean Pacelli, Keenan Robinson, and Mike Sneed for services above and beyond the call of duty during a hectic holiday season and throughout the year.
The Paramount Condominiums for their donation drive at the holidays.
Vanessa & Patrick for providing child care during the Reston/Herndon FISH Finance Class.