CITY OF ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — Since 1987, Community Lodgings has been helping Alexandria’s low income and homeless families get back on their feet. The organization’s resources have been stretched thin, and some city council members stepped in on Monday to lend a hand.
“We are fortunate in Alexandria to have an incredible number of nonprofits that serve so many needs in our community so anybody who wants to give back in any way has an opportunity in this city,” said Mayor Justin Wilson.
Council members put together emergency kits and organized donations, but Community Lodgings’ Executive Director Lynn Thomas’ highlight of the day was a surprise conversation when the work was finished. With extra time left in the day, Thomas got to voice a few of her concerns as the organization’s budget has been stretched thin.
Community Lodgings owns 44 affordable and transitional apartments and serves about 200 families a week.
Community Lodgings’ transitional housing, with extra support for families in need, has dwindled to just six units, which they for pay in-full. It also has to pay over $70,000 in real estate taxes each year. Thomas says neighboring districts, like Fairfax County, offer lower rates for nonprofits.
“I felt like I had a one-on-one conversation opportunity to just really share with council our needs in the community and what we need and who we serve,” Thomas said. “We don’t get that opportunity often so it was great.”
While the organization’s mission is based in housing, Community Lodgings has also opened a Learning Center for city youth; with after school activities, mentoring, and homework help. Its volunteers and teachers aid about 150 kids.
“We listened to our kids who would come in. Sometimes they’d be food insecure, they’d need a coat or shoes, so each time we heard something we said we’d try and address those needs in the community,” Thomas said. Community Lodgings collects donations, like toys and clothing, and will even purchase new items to meet an immediate need.