After Potomac's President, Joe Appelbaum, met Shelter House Executive Director & CEO Joe Meyer on ELR last April, we offered some support.  Q Miceli compiled the history of Shelter House.

Learn more about Shelter House here.

Shelter House: A History

Compiled by Q Carleton, Potomac Companies, Inc.


From death came life: following the death of a homeless man in Bailey’s Crossroads in the early ‘80s, an ecumenical council convened to address homelessness in Fairfax County.  This small group of concerned citizens began with outreach efforts through churches, which grew into a partnership with the county.  In 1985, Fairfax County contracted with this small nonprofit to open the county’s first homeless shelter in Falls Church, the Patrick Henry Shelter, serving families: adults and children experiencing homelessness.  Service offerings expanded from this base of operations.

In 2007, Shelter House expanded its ability to serve the community with another contract from Fairfax County.  The Katherine K. Hanley Family Shelter opened, raising greater awareness of the plight of families with children experiencing homelessness.  Always supported by dedicated volunteers, prior to this second contract, Shelter House had 15 full-time staff members and an operating budget of $800,000.  Overnight, with the contract award, the organization grew to 45 staff members.  Best practices and dedicated staff put Shelter House on the map as the leading homeless shelter provider for families experiencing homelessness in Fairfax County.

Paying close attention to the experiences which brought clients to Shelter House, the organization recognized a need for support for victims of domestic violence.  In 2010, Shelter House was awarded a contract to operate Fairfax County’s only domestic violence shelter.  The domestic violence shelter is a safe haven in an undisclosed location for victims of abuse fleeing for their lives.

As of February 2019, Shelter House is poised to open a second domestic violence shelter, raising their capacity to 90 beds for the county.  Through partnership with the County, donors, advocates, and volunteers, in the last six years, Shelter House has developed homelessness prevention efforts.  Families at risk of homelessness can contact Shelter House for assistance.  Shelter House staff and volunteers help families navigate available resources to stay where they are, including negotiating with landlords on their behalf.

In 2005, current CEO and Executive Director Joe Meyer joined the organization.  His goal is to help people succeed by creating a working culture where people like to come to work and help the community.  He credits Shelter House’s growth to the people they have been able to bring onboard.  Their mission would not be possible without the passionate, dedicated, competent people working for a better community.

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