On July 24th, Cornerstones attended the National Conference on Ending Homelessness “Capitol Hill Day”, to advocate for restored funding to federal programs that have been impacted by sequestration. Cornerstones was joined by nonprofit organizations located in Northern Virginia, Richmond, Charlottesville, and Tidewater, who work with families and singles either experiencing homelessness, or at risk of becoming homeless. Advocates had a chance to sit down with Members of Congress and their staff to explain the direct and widespread impacts these cuts have had on their programs and clients.
While these organizations spoke positively in regard to new availability of HUD-VASH vouchers and the opportunity to house homeless veterans, they also expressed their concerns for the compounded effects of sequestration on their programs. The freeze in issuance of Section 8 vouchers on April 1st resulted in 54 rescinded vouchers, no new vouchers, and severely reduced turnover of existing vouchers in Fairfax County. Currently, funding is available to sustain the existing vouchers, however, there is uncertainty as to what funding will be available for Section 8 in the near future. Funding shortages would require organizations to work with clients for much longer periods of time, making it difficult for them to take on new clients who are in need of permanent supportive housing. In addition to the direct impacts on programs, sequestration has affected individual and corporate donors, who are unable to donate at the levels of previous years.
Adequate funding for Section 8 vouchers leads to successful rapid re-housing of homelessness victims, and allows communities and the federal government to save money on expensive systems of emergency care. Both the House and Senate are currently deliberating appropriations bills for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Cornerstones will encourage Virginia Members of Congress to fight for restored funding for Section 8 vouchers in these appropriations bills.
Our Heartfelt Thanks
- Volunteers and Anthem/Wellpoint staff for collecting donations for the July 6th Diaper Drive.
- King of Kings Lutheran Church’s Vacation Bible School for coming out and encouraging the children in our communities to read.
- Maude Hair Salon for cutting hair at the shelter.
- Mohanji of the ACT Foundation for the blessing of his visit to the Embry Rucker Community Shelter
- Leo Mullen of Navigation Arts for his contribution to helping Cornerstones discover its tagline.
- Rucker Golf Tournament Co-Chairs Ken Michlovitz and Phil Vera and their committee: Pat Flynn, Dan Hulkower, Jim Judge, Larry Schwartz and Thomas Seneca. The 19th annual event raised more than $95,850 to support the programs and services of Cornerstones.
- Toll Brothers for a jam-packed day of service at the shelter
- NCI for a very successful (and competitive) donation drive for items from our Wish List
- Reston Young Professionals for the morning of service
- The staff at Ryan Sharkey for holding a Toiletries Drive to benefit Emergency & Self-Sufficiency Services Program.
- Volunteers who helped at the Golf Tournament.
- The Wee Play network of moms for answering the call repeatedly for our new moms in need
- Week of Hope Volunteers who led day camp at West Glade, were counselors at Laurel Learning Center
For providing catering, hosting food drives, preparing bagged lunches, cooking and serving food:
- Katie Averill and friends
- Nancy Blair
- Clarabridge employees
- Cooley, LLP Summer Interns
- St. Anne’s Episcopal Church Summer Youth Program
- Korean Central Presbyterian Church–Hyang Na Mu Women’s Saturday Bible Study Group
- The Knight’s of Columbus of St. John Neumann
- St. Mark’s Catholic Church
- Viji Sagar and friends
- Bryan Sitko and the Scouts in BSA Troop 160
- Luisa Vargas and friends
Homeless Have Limited Options to Stay Hydrated
Donations of bottled water and Gatorade are greatly appreciated during these hot summer months as we work to help the homeless avoid heat-related illness.
Donations can be dropped off at any time at the Embry Rucker Community Shelter , 11975 Bowman Towne Drive, Reston.
Cornerstones’ Embry Rucker Community Shelter operates a cooling center for the homeless in the evenings and on weekends, as well as emergency shelter during severe storms and summer weather. Bottled water and bagged lunches are distributed to those in need throughout the day and evening.
The homeless have limited options when it comes to finding places to cool down and ways to carry or obtain enough fluids to stay hydrated. They spend extended periods of time in the sun, or at places like bus stops or in tents. Some spend their time in hot cars as their safe haven and the interiors can reach 120oF or more in the sun. In the summer, night time temperatures remain high and offer little relief. The homeless also walk long distances or use public transportation to get to work, interviews, and medical appointments — these factors combine to make summer a very dangerous time for our vulnerable homeless community.
Many have heard the term “hypothermia”, a condition that occurs when the body can no longer heat itself and the core temperature reaches abnormally low levels. It is often brought on by extreme cold weather, but can also occur in moderate, damp and windy weather conditions. Fewer people, however, know the term “hyperthermia”, which occurs when the body dangerously overheats, typically due to extreme hot weather conditions.
The summer hyperthermia season causes great challenges for our homeless neighbors. Those who are homeless often suffer from multiple chronic health issues and are being treated for conditions which require the use of medications. These medications put them at greater risk of suffering from heat stroke than the average person. Even such common medications as stimulants, sedatives, antihistamines, diuretics, and antidepressants can increase the risk of heat stroke, heat exhaustion and cramping.
Chronic medical conditions and the medicines used to treat them can cause a variety of heat related problems. Diabetes reduces the ability of the blood vessels in the skin to expand, and lowers the amount of blood circulating through the body, thus the ability to cool down is lowered. Sweating rates are reduced by diabetes and those suffering from the disease are more likely to experience heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Advanced age and obesity exacerbate these issues and raise the odds even further for experiencing serious heat related illness. Diuretics and antihistamines can lead to faster dehydration. For those with heart issues, rising body temperatures force the compromised circulatory system to work harder as it tries to pump blood to cool the body. Rising body temperatures can also lead to disorientation, dizziness, and even permanent brain damage. Some medication levels are hard to regulate as the body becomes dehydrated and they concentrate at dangerous levels in the system, causing adverse side effects.
Your donations of bottled water and Gatorade can help our vulnerable homeless neighbors through a very dangerous time this summer.