Christian Relief Services Charities: Providing Safe, Affordable Housing for Thousands

Affordable Housing

The Untold Story

According to Fairfax County’s Continuum of Care Project rankings for 2013, Christian Relief Services Charities and Christian Relief Services of Virginia, Inc. were among the leading providers of affordable housing in the county, operating homes with Pathway Homes and Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, Inc., as well as Christian Relief Services Charities’ Safe Places and STRIDE programs.

It’s by far the single-largest aspect of Christian Relief Services Charities, but a facet of the organization that’s largely unknown, but that makes a huge difference for residents of Christian Relief Services Charities-owned properties in Arizona, Kansas, and in its own backyard in northern Virginia.

In 2011, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RHA) and the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development described the “Partnership in Action” together creating “a place to call home” for thousands of county residents.

The county agencies noted that they and Christian Relief Services Charities “have a long-standing, successful partnership to provide housing and services to homeless families.”

Christian Relief Services Charities uses Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and other federal funding provided by Fairfax County for its Homeless Transitional Housing program with the goal of bridging the gap when permanent housing is not available at the time the household leaves an emergency shelter.

“The program provides opportunities for motivated participants to obtain the necessary skills, income and services to obtain permanent housing and achieve self-sufficiency,” the agencies stated. “As part of the program, Christian Relief Services Charities provides clients with case management, support services, budgeting and financial management counseling.”

The report noted that at that time, Christian Relief Services Charities owned 45 site properties scattered throughout the county, which are used to provide transitional housing for formerly homeless households exiting emergency shelters, to include seniors, those with disabilities and victims of domestic violence.

That year, the RHA had used federal funding to finance the acquisition and/or rehabilitation of by Christian Relief Services Charities of three properties which provide seven beds of permanent supportive housing.

Christian Relief Services Charities also received CDBG funding through the county’s Consolidated Community Funding Pool (CCFP) to provide case management support, financial management training and housing counseling and advocacy services.

For the period 1993 to 2011, CDBG funding supported Christian Relief Services Charities in achieving the following service outcomes:

*More than 429 households addressed safety and other destabilizing issues.

*More than 533 households completely paid off or substantially reduced household debt.

*More than 353 households achieved a level of self-sufficiency sufficient enough to qualify for permanent housing

Also, during that period, Christian Relief Services Charities received $1,079,018 in CDBG support under the CCFP, which Christian Relief Services Charities leveraged with more than $9.7 in resources, including more than $3.5 million in cash and more than $6.2 million in non-cash and volunteer resources to provide these public services – a leveraging ratio of 9:1.

The report concluded noting that it is Christian Relief Services Charities that provides the housing that serves disabled adults through the partnerships with Pathway Homes and the CSB for the supportive services.

In the years that followed, Christian Relief Services Charities established what today is comprised of 15 non-profit organizations, known as affiliates – the majority of which pertain to affordable housing – which are exempted under its Internal Revenue Service Group exemption.

Christian Relief Services Charities supports the administrative activities (filing state regulations annually, fundraising, accounting, human resources, legal and technology) to be the infrastructure for the affiliates’ ability to secure donations, utilize the support of volunteers and develop partnerships with local government and non-governmental organizations to obtain the adequate funding necessary to provide for programming.

In terms of direct housing experience, Christian Relief Services Charities is a proven leader in preserving affordable housing both locally near its headquarters located in Fairfax County, Virginia and in other states through its affiliates which are Single Purpose Entities owning multi-family properties.

Christian Relief Services Charities’ nonprofit affiliate CRSC Residential, Inc. provides direct property management services representing a total of 1,765 units preserved and maintained as affordable housing as of January 15, 2015.

CRSC Residential is responsible for all property management activities to include, but not limited to, property marketing, leasing, leasing compliance, income certification, landlord/tenant relations, rent collection, accounting, property maintenance and repair, and move-in/move-out inspections.

CRSC Residential Properties

  1. CRS Triangle Housing Corporation – Melrose Apartments, Triangle, VA (370 units of very low and moderate income housing in a Virginia suburb of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area), incorporated December, 1998
  1. CRS Kansas Affordable Housing Corporation – Brentwood Apartments, Wichita, KS (196 units rented to mixed income population, 20% of the units are set aside for families making less than 50% of Area Median Income (AMI), incorporated November, 1995
  1. Mountain Lakes Housing Foundation, Inc. – Mountain Lakes Apartments, Tucson, AZ (96 one and two bedroom units of which 50% are set aside for persons earning less than 50% of the AMI), incorporated September, 1992
  1. CRS Scottsdale Housing Corporation – Sun King Apartments, Scottsdale, AZ (360 units of multifamily housing serving low to moderate-income community. A minimum of 20% of the units are reserved for persons earning less than 50% of the AMI) & Casa Castillo Apartments, Phoenix, AZ (15 units 2 bedroom project of which 3 units are for persons earning less than 65% AMI), incorporated March, 2000
  1. CRS Fountain Place Housing Corporation – Fountain Place I and II Apartments, Peoria, AZ (164-unit townhouse development rented to families and individuals who primarily earn less than 80% of AMI. 20% of units are rented to families earning less than 50% of AMI), incorporated June, 2001
  1. CRS Cambridge Court Housing Corporation – Cambridge Court Apartments, Phoenix, AZ (286 units of very low and moderated income housing in central Phoenix), incorporated June, 2001
  1. CRS Somerset Place Housing Corporation – Somerset Place Apartments, Tucson, AZ (160 units of low to moderate income housing in Tucson), incorporated October, 2013
  1. CRS Peoria Housing Corporation – Country Village Apartments, Peoria, AZ (118 units of low and moderate income housing in Peoria), incorporated December, 2012
  1. CRS of Virginia – Harbor View Apartments, Quantico, VA (funded in part with low-income housing tax credits which the compliance period has expired), incorporated November, 1991

In northern Virginia, CRS of Virginia works diligently to address and alleviate the multiple barriers people with special needs face to secure permanent housing locally for homeless families and disabled adults in Fairfax County.

CRS of Virginia in conjunction with Christian Relief Services Charities’ extensive portfolio of multi-family affordable housing fully demonstrates the organization’s commitment and well-established experience in housing development and related services.

CRS of Virginia is a nonprofit housing developer and qualified Community Housing Development Organization serving Fairfax County and other locations in Virginia for 23 years with the purpose of acquiring, preserving, constructing and managing properties exclusively to serve low-income, homeless and disadvantaged residents of the Commonwealth.

Throughout Fairfax County, CRS of Virginia owns and manages 77 individually scattered site properties (as of January 15, 2015) comprised of single family homes, condominiums and townhouses which fill a vital gap serving as temporary or permanent housing for homeless families and disabled adults, as well as survivors of domestic violence and low-income residents of the county where the availability of affordable housing is extremely scarce, particularly for those with special needs.

The properties have been acquired by CRS of Virginia over the years through its participation in the Fairfax County Continuum of Care securing a variety of funding streams awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, and multiple low-interest loans from the Virginia Development Housing Authority with approximately $533,000 from the county’s Redevelopment Housing Authority.

CRS of Virginia operates the properties in collaboration with several other nonprofit agencies to offer quality affordable and supportive housing for the most vulnerable residents of the county.

Most notably, CRS of Virginia has partnered with Fairfax County-based Pathway Homes since 1991 and through the combined work of both nonprofits, together they operate seven properties owned and managed by CRS of Virginia with Pathways providing direct services for 28 single adults with severe mental illness.

This partnership has proven effective in successfully securing HUD funding annually and meeting all program standards for serving chronically homeless disabled adults.

Examples of services provided by Pathways at properties owned and managed by CRS of Virginia include crisis intervention, monitoring of substance use and recovery activities, and on-site daily living skills training, such as budgeting, cooking, hygiene, shopping, medication management, socialization and interpersonal skills.

Residents also receive individual counseling, ongoing psychiatric medication assessment and supervision as well as assistance from staff in transportation or travel training to ensure they have access to resources in the community.

In addition to Pathways, CRS of Virginia has developed a strong and effective partnerships with several other well-respected local organizations in the county over the years which serve as the sponsoring agencies responsible for direct supportive services while it serves as the landlord and property manager conducting property renovations and rehabilitation as needed.

The 77 properties are dedicated for the following purposes:

  • 15 Permanent Supportive Housing – supervised homes for single adults funded in part by HUD Continuum of Care providing housing and support services to approximately 64 chronically homeless and disabled county residents with Pathways and Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services providing on-site services and management support.
  • 16 homes for treatment recovery for homeless county residents leased and operated by the Fairfax County-Falls Church Community Services Board. CRS of Virginia has partnered with the CSB for decades with the fixed-rate leasing agreements at well below market rate. This is a tremendous benefit to the CSB securing valuable housing stock in perpetuity with CRS of Virginia as the landlord, avoiding any concern of changes or increases which could impact programming or costs in the future.
  • 17 Transitional Housing – units for the homeless partially funded by the county’s Consolidated Community Funding Pool for nearly 20 years. In this program, CRS of Virginia provides direct specialized programming through its Safe Places program, decided to providing long-term safe supportive housing to victims of domestic violence and their children as they heal from the trauma of domestic violence and begin to rebuild their lives. Residents of Safe Places are provided with safe affordable housing for up to two years, as well as case management, victim and court advocacy, connections to critical community resources, budget and financial counseling and employment assistance. The combination of these services and program activities gives participants the opportunity to establish the stability and to build resources necessary to obtain and maintain permanent housing, heal from domestic violence and develop social supports within the community.
  • 15 units are a combination of permanent and transitional housing served by one of several sponsoring agencies: New Hope Housing, Alternative House, Volunteers of America and Friends of Guest House. Residents pay 30 percent of their adjusted gross income or less, depending on their sponsoring program.
  • 1 single family property is sponsored by Artemis House and serves as a shelter for families fleeing domestic violence.
  • 13 single family properties are dedicated to low-income families with resident supported by housing subsidies available through Bridging Affordability or Housing Choice vouchers.

This unique model of collaboration between CRS of Virginia and the nonprofit partners allows the agencies to effectively work together to offer specialized services to their clients in tandem with a compassionate landlord who shares their commitment to residents’ needs.

“Everybody wants to work with Christian Relief Services Charities,” commented Bryan Krizek, who initiated the housing program and today is the organization’s CEO. (See Bryan’s profile, page X.)

In sum, under Bryan’s leadership CRSC Residential and CRS of Virginia have more than 20 years’ of experience in the acquisition, management, and the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of as many as 3,000 affordable housing units over the years.

Currently, the organization is responsible for a housing portfolio valued at $120 million, as well as all activities necessary to ensure property and funding compliance.

On any given day, right now, assuming an average of 3.5 residents per household for the 1,765 CRSC Residential properties, there are 6,177.5 low-income children, women and men who have a roof over their head, a warm bed to sleep in, and no worries about where they are going to live tomorrow, all because of Christian Relief Services Charities.

In addition, when taking into account the additional 77 homes that are owned by Christian Relief Services Charities and operated by CRS of Virginia specifically for those most in need in our society – the disabled, mentally challenged and domestic violence victims – the number swells to hundreds more.

It’s a story that needs to be, and must be, told.