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Bulova Talks Poverty, High Cost of Housing in Fairfax County

The chairman of the Board of Supervisors was part of a panel at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria on Thursday that included poverty experts.

Residents of Fairfax County who make minimum wage could work 24 hours a day, seven days a week and still couldn’t afford to live in a one bedroom apartment due to high housing prices, said the chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors on Thursday.

That may be why 50 percent of the county’s approximately 1,500 homeless people have jobs but live in the woods, shelters or cars, said Sharon Bulova, speaking at a panel on poverty held at in Alexandria. Fairfax County has a population of 1.1 million with 60,000 people classified as living in poverty.

“They don’t make enough money to keep a roof over their heads,” she said. “Housing is expensive.”

She said the county works closely with its school system to ensure that students who live at the poverty level have a roof and food. Children have become the poorest age group in the country and it’s usually those who are being raised by single mothers who are the poorest, according to poverty experts who also spoke on the panel.

Other panelists were Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers, and Peter Edelman, co-founder of the Children's Defense Fund. Panelists were interviewed by public television talk show host Tavis Smiley and author and educator Cornel West as part of Smiley and West's "Poverty Tour" to eight states.

“We are committed to ending homelessness as we know it,” Bulova said.

She recalled moving into a new neighborhood, going out for a run and stumbling across a homeless camp with three members that was “one mile from my new home. This was my neighbor and I needed to care about that.”

The county, which had a median household income of over $100,000 in 2009, now has an office specifically charged with preventing homelessness, she said. In 2009, Virginia had a median income of $59,330 and the United States, $50,221.

She added that the county’s faith community has been instrumental in raising awareness about the region’s homelessness issue. Churches, mosques and synagogues recently all participated in an organized anti-hypothermia program, raising awareness among their members.

In turn, it became a personal issue to those members who then “turned to the Fairfax government and said we want to address this” as a community, Bulova said.

“An impediment to our progress would be denial,” she said. “We have to acknowledge we have pockets of poverty.”

Ron September 15, 2012 at 11:09 AM
Bulova fails to mention that she is part of the problem. Under the Connolly and Bulova eras, real estate taxes have soared. Last year, she claimed to keep the real estate tax rate the same, but didn't broadcast that then the County added fees that actually increased real estate tax rates. Ms. Bulova, you are a part of the problem!
Anoneemous September 15, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Gee, maybe people who can't afford to live in Fairfax County should not live in Fairfax County.
BurkePatriot September 15, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Why doesn't Mrs. Bulova understand that in reality there is a solution to end homeless and poverty in Fairfax County. The solution is liberty. The liberty of choosing what is the most rational self-interest thing to do. To make a decision that will benefit oneself by giving himself liberty to pursue his own happiness. This is done with property rights or money. One may choose to make money or not. One may spend more than he has or not. Someone who is a moral person doesn't make decisions to hurt himself or other people deliberately or it will lead that individual and others to there demise. The number one answer is to choose to live in a county that is affordable. Live to his means. Nobody has the right to live where they want. They must earn it. Those who choose not to earn it must simply leave. Rational people would do that. If they don't are they rational? What is immoral is when politicians do not encourage individuals to progress. Instead they offer dependency. They offer statism as the solution. This maintains the individual in place. In place of discouragement. A place of low self esteem thus failure. This failure and dependency is the crack that politicians provide for votes and this is immoral. Using the property of other people to facilitate this immorality is immoral as well. Mrs. Bulova and other politicians who use the evil mask of "compasion" off the backs of others for there selfish political gains must stop. In Liberty,
Ron September 15, 2012 at 04:26 PM
That is the only choice. Bulova seems to think that the rest of us should pay for other people's housing. She is so out of touch and doesn't even understand that many of us who live in this County bought homes when they were affordable. None of us could afford to move into our own neighborhoods at today's home prices. She lives on another planet and continues to make it less affordable even for us long-time home owners. I have two sons and they couldn't afford this County so they moved to neighboring areas where it is affordable.
BurkePatriot September 15, 2012 at 07:39 PM
What Socialists like Mrs. Bulova always try to do and have been successful at has been tricking people with the minimum wage argument as the measuring stick. The reality is the minimum wage is a training wage not a living wage. Children and new immigrants who have no experience in the United States because of the language barrier. Adults move up the ladder from minimum wage quickly because they do have work ethics that they had learned in there country. Children or young people are simply learning to be a worker. This is why unemployment rate for young people is so high. Mature immigrants will in most cases win the job. Minimum wage takes liberty away from someone with no skills by not being able to negotiate his or her wage. Not learning a skill or gaining work ethic because of there rights taken by the minimum wage is what has been contributing to higher costs of goods and services and an increase of dependency on government. 49% of working people receive handouts and are being bought and enslaved by government is the proof. It is a lie that people with families are minimum wage earners that are there for a long length of time. It is a constant moving segment of our economy that is the first rung of the ladder. The real problem is we have youth with no work,no skills,no experience,and no self-esteem to work towards a future other than dependency. Mrs. Bulova is fighting the wrong battle. Supporting the homeless is not a help for our community but a burden for all.
Ron September 15, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Amen! When are people in this County going to vote for people who understand that and stop electing people who want hard working people to carry the burden for everyone?
Anoneemous September 15, 2012 at 08:51 PM
BurkePatriot said, "Minimum wage takes liberty away from someone with no skills by not being able to negotiate his or her wage." Most unskilled labor, young, older, legal, or illegal are hardly in the position to negotiate their wages. With the supply of labor plentiful, the law of supply and demand give the leverage to the hiring business. Of course skilled labor has greater negotiating power. I'm no liberal but I support minimum wage to defend against exploitation of labor.
Anoneemous September 15, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Ron, I agree with you, however I support a progressive tax system to a point. Having said that, I am repulsed by demonization of the successful as President Obama is so skillfully doing. We are reaching a point in our nation where the percentage of taxpayers who ride in the wagon are greater than the percentage of taxpayers who pull the wagon. Once people who pay little or no income tax outnumber those that pay, I will be able to accurately predict the outcome of every state, local, or federal election. Historically in the US, people tend to vote their self-interest.
BurkePatriot September 15, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Anoneemous, The un-skilled would absolutely be able to negotiate if there wasn't a minimum wage. They would be able to drive wages down to a point it would be advantageous for an individual businessman to hire the lower skilled person and the unskilled get the experience and education that they need. An investment of there time. Money is second in consideration. Lower wages drive cost of goods and services down due to competition. That is a fact. The politicians choose to ignore.
John Farrell September 15, 2012 at 10:34 PM
There you have it, boys and girls, the full John Gault, Randian dispepsic rant. No facts to support any of this ideological nonsense because Ayn was really a cult princess who never got over the bolshies taking her daddy's factory away which had financed her "daddy's prince" lifestyle. Bo ho. Dumbledore has more useful social, moral and economic insights.
John Farrell September 15, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Actually, totally false
John Farrell September 15, 2012 at 10:39 PM
So where do proposed our teachers, firefighters, police, secretaries, receptionists, retail clerks, etc live if they can't afford to live here? Our Fairfax way of life depends on them.
Anoneemous September 15, 2012 at 10:50 PM
John Farrell: To John Farrell I say, I don't see any rant but I do see a civil, polite exchange of ideas. If you have any ideas, why not share them instead of your emotional accusations. There are many models and theories to discuss so if you have some of your own, dive in! The name calling is not very useful.
John Farrell September 15, 2012 at 11:14 PM
There is no name calling, anonymous anoneemous. Simply accurately identifying an ideology which you don't deny.
Anoneemous September 15, 2012 at 11:36 PM
That's better John. Have a nice weekend. :-))
CD September 16, 2012 at 01:56 PM
@John - I appreciate all of the difference of opinions on the Patch but to slam a comment with out giving your ideas or thoughts is not constructive. You have the right from our beautiful 1st Amendment to say anything you please I am only suggesting that you think of comments that help the conversation versus trying to tear people down.
Ron September 16, 2012 at 02:33 PM
You live within the means you can afford. That's obvious. My one son works near Gainesville and several of his co-workers travel from places near Fredericksburg because that is where the housing they can afford is located. Why do we owe everyone who works for the County what people in the private sector cannot afford? That's ridiculous thinking!
Ron September 16, 2012 at 02:36 PM
No one is tearing anyone down. The facts speak for themselves. We are over-taxed and some of that over-taxation has come about by politicians who stay in office by giving benefits to a strong voting bloc that keeps them in office - namely, the employees of the County! Wake up residents of Fairfax County.
John Farrell September 16, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Correctly identifying an discredited ideology is not "tearing down" its adherents or proselytizers.
John Farrell September 16, 2012 at 04:26 PM
The number of County employees who can afford to live & vote in Fairfax is smaller than you might think. Especially when we remember that there are 717,000+ registered voters in Fairfax. The exclusionary housing policies of the County contribute to air pollution and traffic congestion by requiring our private sector administrative and retail employees to commute from long distance to provide the services we rely on. Those regressive policies also impose a time tax on those employees families.
Jonathan Erickson September 16, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Tax the faith community, all Homeowner associations and political parties. Since they are all out for the good of the public I am sure they will have no problem adding to the funds the government spends on the homeless.
Kathy Keith September 16, 2012 at 05:22 PM
The faith community already works on feeding and housing the homeless. In fact, they get called on by the county. Frankly, I think it does a better job than the government. The fraud with food stamps is stunning. Tax the faith community, and there will be less money going where it needs to go--instead of to bureaucrats. Most homeowner associations that I know of are having a hard time collecting dues from their members because of the economy. As far as the political parties, how in the world would you ever tax that? The donations are not tax deductible,
Peter T. Rock September 17, 2012 at 07:46 AM
@John Farrell, you rant about some exclusionary housing policy. I just googled it on the county website and found no such policy. Yet assuming one exists, what is the real problem and how would you fix it?
Peter T. Rock September 17, 2012 at 07:54 AM
The article implies there are 750 or so homeless people without jobs in Fairfax County, and about the same who are employed. That sounds like a labor surplus to me. Maybe we should reduce their incentive for living here. Encourage them to move to a more moderate climate with a culture that values and supports these people 24/365, such as California. Oh, they can take Gerry Connolly and Sharon Bulova with them to be their mentors. .
Peter T. Rock September 17, 2012 at 08:03 AM
We all have a story to tell. My parents kicked me out when I was 18. Eventually I figured out how to get a job and an education. I lived in a shared room for more years than I wanted, then finally could afford to share a townhouse with a room of my own. I saved my money and bought my own townhouse and rented two rooms to younger people who were following my path but were about ten years behind. I married, and stayed married. Had children. Saved and bought a small house that we could afford. Still not rich by anyone's standards, but we don't apply for or accept any free money, including school lunches. That's why I believe handouts breed more handouts, until there are more people taking than giving. It has never worked in any city, county, state, or country anywhere, ever. Once we allow the free water well to dry up, these nomads will move away, and our communities will be better for it.
Ron September 17, 2012 at 11:19 AM
It is not a rant. The County does subsidize and it's well known. It's not surprising that you didn't find it on the web site. They like to hide things that waste our tax money. The simple solution is to just get rid of it. Why is fair for someone who works for the County to get subsidized housing when someone in the private sector who makes the same income and gets far less generous benefits gets no subsidy? If you can find a rational explanation for that policy, then please elighten all of us.
Ron September 17, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Peter: Your story is what we should be hearing not all this bleeding heart stuff. If you are willing to work hard and you are honest, you should be able to make your way in this Country.
Jonathan Erickson September 18, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Maybe the faith community is part of the fraud problem. Who said anything about tax deductible, we know how much money Kaine, Wolfe, Allen, Romney and Obama have raised when they report their monthly state takes they should cut a 5% check to the government. Homeowners association that are not based on a faimlys income are all about improving their areas at the expense of the people who make less money. Tax the associations and tax them extra for not paying for such a long time.
Formerteacher October 02, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Do you want to know why real estate taxes are so high in Fairfax County? Because it is now a "Sanctuary" city for ILLEGAL ALIENS. This rapidly growing population is receiving free services that LEGAL citizens must pay for without having any choice in the matter. The cost of free meals for all their kids in FCPS, the cost of all the interpreters to communicate with them about their kids is soaring. The cost of disability payments they receive (YES THEY DO!) is the reason our taxes are soaring. All their anchor babies, some of which are disabled costs this county millions and the LEGAL population is footing the bill. You would think the cost of having a disabled child would stop them from having more kids. IT DOESN'T. The illegals are becoming very organized and know how to work the system. They are not all pitiful sad sacs. Most have on average 4 kids (most have more) and alot of them are not married to each other. Teachers, firemen, police officers are having their salaries frozen for years ( and they don't make much to begin with) so that the tax dollars paid by LEGAL citizens can go towards supporting the CRIMINAL population. Vote this criminal politician, MS. BULLOVA, out of office and elect someone willing to uphold the laws of this country.
Formerteacher October 02, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Bullova wants the LEGAL population to pay for the ILLEGAL population. After 4 yrs o teaching and a Masters Degree I qualified for affordable housing. Why? Because MILLIONS of FCPS' budget was allotted to buying free meals for all the illegal anchor kids while the teacher's salaries were frozen for years. Teachers are now having to pay 5% of their salary towards their pension. Their salaries are already so low this is a huge burden. Bulova et al also horribly mismanaged the school pension fund whey they invested in the HUGE housing bubble. Anyone with common sense (let alone someone in charge of the pension fund) could see that the housing bubble would burst. Vote her OUT. NOW.

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