About the Housing Opportunities Collaborative

Who We Are

  The Housing Opportunities Collaborative is an initiative being administered jointly by Fairfax County’s Office to Prevent and End Homelessness and Cornerstones, a local nonprofit. While the project is being spearheaded by these two entities, the Collaborative is truly a collective effort comprised of nearly 30 nonprofit and government entities, known as the Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness, as well as the larger Fairfax-Falls Church community. The intent is to expand opportunities for housing for those currently experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. In order to expand opportunities for housing, the Collaborative has three main functional areas of operation:
  • Assist with landlord engagement and recruitment
  • Streamline information and communication between nonprofits and the larger community about housing location
  • Provide professional development and training opportunities for frontline staff
While the Collaborative program administrators will assist in landlord engagement and recruitment for the benefit of the whole County, the main purpose of this initiative is to help enhance, strengthen, and coordinate the incredible housing location work already being done throughout the community by our rock-star Collaborative nonprofit and government partners.

What We Do

  getting-keysDue to an extremely expensive rental market in Fairfax, it is challenging, if not nearly impossible, for the individuals and families we work with to locate safe, stable, and affordable housing that fits their budget. On top of that, the stigma of homelessness creates additional challenges when looking for housing. The Collaborative is designed to meet these needs by assisting in the recruitment of landlord partners in the community who are willing to rent to our clients. In exchange, the Collaborative offers an incentive program and other supports to help make the partnership effective. Landlords can choose between two levels of membership in the Collaborative – Housing Partner or Game Changer. All we ask of Housing Partners is be willing to partner with our program and meet our basic joining criteria. Game Changers have agreed to go a step further and actually lower their entry/screening criteria to allow increased access for our clients (lower credit score, leniency on criminal or eviction history, etc.). Both Housing Partners and Game Changers have access to the incentive program, with Game Changers having access to a premium version with additional features. To find out more about being a Housing Partner or Game Changer with the Housing Opportunities Collaborative, click here. In addition to landlord recruitment, the Collaborative is also focused on providing training and professional development opportunities to frontline staff who work with individuals and families experiencing homelessness, understanding that it is only with strong, educated, and fully equipped frontline staff that the challenging job of ending homelessness will be realized. Lastly, it is our goal to provide a mutually beneficial environment of partnership and collaboration through ongoing events intended for networking amongst landlords, agency providers, and those experiencing homelessness so that we can expand the conversations about how we are going to effectively end homelessness together.

The Meaning Behind “the Collaborative”

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When developing this program, it was very important to convey to both our partners and the community that it is truly a collective, collaborative, and reciprocal effort that would not exist without these vital partnerships. We cannot end homelessness if we do not work together as a system. Ultimately, the Collaborative is only as impactful as the agencies who are a part of it and it was vital that the name reflected that commitment. We do not refer to it as the HOC or by any other acronym, continuing to emphasize and highlight collaboration as the program’s core tenant.

Housing Collaborative Opportunities Support Staff

Vincent Jenkins

Vincent Jenkins

Housing Resource Coordinator, Cornerstones, Inc.

Vincent has successfully served his community for over twenty years through a career in the Human Services in various capacities. Having an extensive knowledge of at risk populations he has worked in the managerial capacity in residential and non‐residential programs. His approach has been uniquely tailored to promote successful outcomes and empower positive change. As the Housing Resource Coordinator Vincent leads efforts to establish relationships with landlords and other permanent housing providers for the explicit purpose of increasing housing opportunities for people who are homeless and at risk of homelessness. Vincent earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology/Psychology from Hofstra University in Uniondale, NY.  
Rachel Helferd

Rachel Helferd

Housing Locator Support Specialist, Office to Prevent and End Homelessness

Rachel Helferd is the Housing Locator Support Specialist with the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness in Fairfax County. Rachel has created a certificate program for frontline staff members to receive training on housing rights, relief benefits, immigration rights, professional boundaries and ethics, financial education, trauma informed care and she also facilitates case staffing sessions which encourage positive interpersonal relationships with staff members as well as clients.  She is passionate about her role in the Collaborative having worked as a direct service provider for families in transitional housing. Rachel began her quest to advocate for those in need by working at an affordable cooperative property in Northern Virginia. Rachel graduated from George Mason University with a Bachelor of the Arts Degree in Global Affairs in 2013.

Partner Agencies

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