It's easy to get caught up in statistics when talking about homelessness.
In Arlington County, for instance, there were an estimated 461 homeless people last year -- including 112 children. The overall number is down about 13 percent from 2010, though organizers believe the number may have been skewed by a snow and ice storm that hit the day of the count.
The four-part Faces of Homelessness series below goes beyond the numbers. It focuses on people who are or have struggled with homelessness in southern Fairfax County. It's a good reminder that there's more to this problem than statistics.
Arlington County has been working on a 10-year plan to end homelessness. Partners like the Arlington Street People's Assistance Network, or A-SPAN, help make this happen.
A-SPAN also operates the homeless shelter at 2049 N. 15th St. in the Courthouse community -- the one, county officials hope, will be eventually replaced by a two-floor, year-round comprehensive homeless services center about a block or so away.
This week, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan awarded nearly $201 million to homeless programs across the country -- including about $93,300 to A-SPAN for its Open Doors program.
Through that program, the money will be used to house six chronically homeless adults over the next year with intensive case management.
Next week, two local restaurants will donate their time and ingredients to prepare and serve food to about 70 adults in the shelter. Lyon Hall is cooking Tuesday night's meal. Santa Fe Cafe is serving dinner Wednesday.
And they'll be serving more than just numbers.
About This Series
Homelessness is a serious problem for many in Fairfax County, especially because housing is so expensive here. This series will introduce you to some of the more than 1,500 people in Fairfax County who have experienced homelessness recently as well as the people trying to help them.
Part 1: A Night at the Shelter