1, 2012 – June, 30, 2013
P.O. Box 231227
United Way # 8594
Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) # 56716
Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign
(CVC) # 8278
Activities, and Accomplishments
Origins: The Brain
Foundation (TBF) was established by Trudy Harsh in 2003 in order to educate the
public about brain diseases and provide affordable housing to enable
independent living for those afflicted by brain diseases. The professionally talented and devoted
members on the Board of Directors volunteer to conduct all the staff functions
without compensation. TBF obtained IRS
certification as a 501 (c) 3 non profit organization and the State of Virginia
recognizes it as a charitable organization authorized to solicit contributions
for its activities. Trudy
is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors and President of TBF. She also is:
- Realtor –
1977-Present; Associate Broker,
Long and Foster Realty;
- Former member
and President of the Northwest Center Mental Health Advisory Board – 1990-96;
- Member, Fairfax-Falls
Church Community Services Board Residential Housing Committee – 1990-98;
Sully District Representative to the Fairfax - Falls Church Community
Services Board – 2001-10;
- Member, the Fairfax-Falls
Church Community Services Board Mental Health Committee – 2001-present;
- Member, NAMI;
formerly known as the National Association for the Mentally Ill – 1990-Present;
- Founder and
President, Friends of Rock Hill, a mental health residential facility – 1991-96;
United Way In My Back Yard (IMBY) Award -- 1996;
supporter of the existing Stephenson House in Fairfax and principal
proponent for building two more such houses -- 2008;
Nancy McDonald Beyer Exemplary Community Service Award -- 2005;
Virginia House of Delegates – 2006;
Volunteer Service Award for working with Persons with Disabilities by Volunteer
Fairfax – 2008;
- Recipient, Joshua
Steven Collins Award of Excellence
by NAMI-VA – 2008;
- Recipient, Ed and
Vivian Brazill Leadership and Lifetime Commitment by Fairfax-Falls Church
Mental Health Advocacy Community –2009;
Washingtonian of the Year, by Washingtonian Magazine – January 2011;
Commendation for efforts to combat homelessness, by Fairfax County Board
of Supervisors – March 2011;
- Selected as one of the
best small non-profits in the DC area by the Catalogue for Philanthropy –
June, 2012; and,
- Recipient, Good
Neighbor Award -- National Realtors Association – November 2012.
Mission: TBF provides affordable housing for those
suffering from serious and persistent brain diseases, such as schizophrenia and
bi-polar disorders, who are homeless or vulnerable to becoming homeless.
is no clear line of division between the mind and the body. No one of us has been spared at least
occasional and mild disorder in our brain.
But serious and persistent brain disease such as schizophrenia, bipolar
disease and depression are chronic, disruptive, devastating and even deadly to those
who suffer and tragic and costly to families who suffer with them. Brain diseases occur no less frequently than
disease in other organs of the human body but it is more misunderstood, more
feared, and more neglected.
there is still so much to learn about causes and solutions, serious and
persistent brain diseases are treatable and manageable. When provided the best of our knowledge and
resources, the vast majority of people who suffer can live fulfilled lives,
participating in and contributing to their families and communities. In those few cases where current medical
treatment is not effective, alleviation of the consequences of disease are
still possible, effective and obligatory.
is comprised of people who accept an obligation to educate, advocate,
alleviate, and collaborate in the world of the complex, challenging reality of
mental illness (brain diseases). They
diligently collect, organize, and disburse a wide array of resources to do
effective, concrete work for and with those who have serious and persistent
with serious and persistent brain diseases often live on Social Security
Disability Insurance and cannot afford to pay more than 1/3 of the cost of safe
and adequate housing. TBF is committed
to raising the negative cash flow (as high as $25,000 per house) annually to
subsidize the remainder of these costs.
With inflation and debt reduction, these homes will become self sustaining.
has been purchasing four bedroom family townhomes close to grocery shopping and
public transportation services. Four
mentally ill residents are selected for each home by Pathway Homes or the
Fairfax County Community Services Board (CSB).
Pathway Homes provides about 10 hours of social worker services per week
to the residents at no cost to TBF. They
have great experience in providing such services throughout Northern Virginia. The CSB provides a social service counselor,
on call, to each of their clients at no cost to TBF. The residents care for themselves, and do all
the ordinary family household functions of cooking, cleaning, taking out the
garbage, etc. This stable living environment provides an opportunity for
wellness to occur.
Financing Affordable Housing:
establishment of the first “Laura’s House at Wilcoxson” in November 2006
opened several avenues of support.
- On June 6,
2007, TBF received a $50,000 Northern Virginia Regional Grant to support
the opening of a second house “Laura’s House Layton Hall” in November 2007.
- In December
2007, the Philip Graham Fund provided a $40,000 grant to provide a down
payment on a foreclosure property in June 2008. It was refurbished and ready to rent in
August 2008. The third house was
named “Laura’s House at King Edward I”.
- In September
2008, TBF was certified by Fairfax County as a Community Housing
Development Organization (CHDO) and became eligible for HOME funds through
HUD. These are zero interest loans
with no payments. In December 2008,
a second foreclosure property was purchased the fourth house as “Laura’s
House at King Edward II.”
- In December
2009 another CHDO Home loan was awarded.
The fifth house, “Laura’s House at Armstrong” was ready for
occupancy in March 2010 for four brain diseased women.
- In July 2010,
TBF was awarded $300,000 from the Fairfax County Community Funding Pool to
purchase a sixth home. “Laura’s
House at Farsta Ct.” was purchased in March 2011 for four brain diseased
- In June 2012,
financing was in place to purchase 3 more Laura’s Houses from Fairfax
County through use of HOME loans and CDBG funds.
- In June 2012,
the Catalogue for Philanthropy chose the Brain Foundation as one of the
best small non-profits in the DC area opening up new avenues for large
- In October
2012, TBF purchased its seventh house, “Laura’s House at Great Heron” for
four brain diseased men.
- In November
2012, Trudy received a “Good Neighbor Award” from the National Realtors
Association for her efforts to provide affordable housing. It included a grant of $10,000 and a
$2,000 gift card from Lowes Home Improvement stores.
All of these
homes have been beautifully furnished with donated items and donated
services. Pathway Homes, Inc., which has
experienced social workers, selected the brain diseased men and women residents
and manages their care in five of the homes.
The Fairfax/Falls Church Community Service Board selected the residents
and provides services to one of the homes.
While the challenge of sustaining the
unfunded costs of this operation is great, TBF expects continued contributions
to be forthcoming. The 2011 United way
of the National Capital Area campaign designated $2,000 to TBF. It participates in the United Way as #8594,
the Combined Federal Campaign as #56716 and the Commonwealth of Virginia
Campaign as #8278. Donations are
solicited through fundraising campaign letters sent from the Board of Directors
to friends and business associates explaining the merits of designating funds
to TBF. Such letters will also be sent
to family members of the residents.
TBF received United Way Community Impact
Grants of $24,000 in 2009, $20,000 in 2010, $9,250 in 2011, 0 in 2012, and
$15,000 in 2013. TBF receives U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban development (HUD) rental subsidy assistance on two
of the homes which significantly reduced their unfunded cash flows. This assistance, for up to 10 years, is based
on the resident’s low incomes and their inability to pay fair market rental
rates. In November 2010, TBF was
provided a waiver of real estate taxes for the third house in Fairfax City as a
non profit providing social services.
Fairfax County will not provide additional real estate tax waivers and
considers its use of HUD’s Home and CDBG zero interest, zero payment loans to
be their support af affordable housing. These
annual contributions, grants, no payment loans, waivers and HUD’s rental
subsidy assistance will be supplemented from the reserves, if necessary, and
sustain the Laura’s Houses into perpetuity.
TBF has a policy of targeting about two years of reserve funding before
purchasing another home. Currently, TBF
has about $150,000 of reserve funding.
The $77,000 remainder will be reserved along
with the $200,000 of CDBG loans for the eighth home. In addition, $200,000 was recommended to be
approved for FY 2014.
needs of those who suffer from Brain Diseases:
TBF provides help to individuals who are
disabled and disadvantaged as a consequence of brain-based diseases. Its
initial and primary focus is the needs of the population within that group who
suffer from serious and persistent mental disease such as bi-polar disease,
schizophrenia and chronic or major depression. TBF is dedicated to providing
and promoting substantial increases in the availability, quality and
effectiveness of a broad range of assistance so that such individuals may live
in dignity and safety within communities that respond to them with respect,
acceptance, protection, healing and opportunity.
TBF directs most of its net resources to providing
affordable housing and the remainder to public education and social integration.
Hundreds of thousands of mentally ill
Americans who, prior to the mid-1950s, would have received treatment in medical
institutions have been relegated to the unfulfilled promise of adequate
community-based treatment and support.
All too often, people who should be
receiving medical treatment in appropriate environments are instead homeless or
in prison. Estimates from sources such
as The National Institute for Mental Health and advocacy groups such as NAMI
estimate that more than fifty percent of homeless individuals have a
brain-based disease. A 200 page report
released October 9, 2007, by Virginia’s General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Audit
and Review Commission concluded that after four decades of emptying the mental
wards of its state hospitals, jails now house more people with mental illness
than state and private hospitals combined.
The June 2009 issue of Psychiatric Services
showed that the prevalence of people with serious mental illness in jails is
increasing. It found that overall, 16%
of jail inmates have a serious mental illness. Even more alarming, 31% of female jail inmates
have a serious mental illness.
Currently, there are over 500 mentally ill people on waiting lists for
housing in Fairfax County.
A person who received SSI benefits in 2013
lives on $715.00 a month; yet, in Fairfax, Virginia average monthly rents
exceed $1000.00. Recent major cuts to
state and local funding have exacerbated an already severe shortage of
subsidized housing and the number of ill and needy people with nowhere to go is
a national disgrace. A recent study from
the University of Pennsylvania proved that it costs society no more to house
and treat an ill individual than it does to leave him or her untreated or
inadequately treated and on the streets or in jail. TBF intends to replace such conditions with
safe and stable housing.
health care needs; social integration; day care and employment opportunities;
legal services; and, promoting human rights: The remainder of TBF’s resources
will be devoted to alleviating the many challenges that adversely affect people
with brain-based disorders.
The need for adequate counseling and pharmacological
treatment for psychological disorders and adequate and effective treatment for
other healthcare needs such as dental care is pervasive. One recent study demonstrates that, over a
three year period, the cost of one group of anti-psychotic medications
increased 192 percent.
The recent Surgeon General’s Report on
Mental Health states: “Stigmatization of people with mental disorders has
actually increased since the 1950’s.
Stigmatization leads others to avoid living, socializing or working
with, renting to, or employing people with mental disorders. It reduces patients’ access to resources and
opportunities and leads to low self-esteem, isolation, and hopelessness. It
deters the public from seeking, and wanting to pay for their care. It deprives patients of their dignity and
interferes with their full participation in society.”
TBF addresses these requirements by
directly supporting other programs that provide health care services,
mentoring, counseling, education, recreation, day programs, employment, and
human rights advocacy. It has been using
some of the funds to support other organization’s activities related to
improving the quality of life for those afflicted by brain diseases.
is a strong proponent of the need for Fairfax County to provide two more
Stephenson type houses. It has provided
leadership on how to organize and manage affordable housing for the brain
diseased. Dave’s House in Fairfax is one
example. Various local NAMI
organizations have asked TBF to provide information on their business model in
order that they could emulate our approach to providing housing for those with
brain diseases. The Brain Foundation of
Central Florida has used our organizational model.
Program Performance Evaluation: Dr. Katherine
Newcomer, Associate Director of The Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and
Public Administration, George
Washington University provided the model which The Brain Foundation uses in
evaluating its performance as judged by the low income beneficiaries of its services. The statistical results follow:
The 28 mentally ill residents living in seven
Laura’s Houses have very low income – 50% obtain less than $700/month largely
supported by Social Security Disability Insurance payments. 18% had been able to become well enough to
hold part-time jobs and earned a little over $1,000/month. There are one Hispanic, three Blacks, and one
Asian; while the remaining residents are Caucasian. 78% of the residents have lived in Laura’s
Houses for more than a year; eleven being there more than 3 years. Their average age is 46 years and ranges from
25 years to 62 years. Their rents range
from less than $175/month to slightly over $310/month and reflect 30% of their
income. Five of the very low income
residents are on the Board of Directors.
The respondents indicated that some had waited very
long periods before finding a home – 55% had waited more than a year; 18% had
waited more than 5 years; and 2 persons had waited more than 10 years. However, 27% had waited a few weeks or less.
The respondents reported living in various environments,
often unstable, since turning 21 years of age.
Residents had lived with parents, in homeless shelters, on the street or
in parks, in jail, in institutions, in 24/7 mental health facilities, in crisis
relief centers, in another group home and in an apartment or rented room.
Elderly parents worry greatly about what will happen to their offspring after
they are gone.
The respondents to the survey rated the comfort of
the homes very high as 4.7 out of possible 5, with over 50% rating it a
5.0. They rated whether the house was
supportive to getting well as 4.4 out of a possible 5, with over 50% rating it
a 5.0. They rated their fellow housemates
as 4.0 out of a possible 5, with over 50% rating it a 4.0. They rated their social services as 4.6 out
of a possible 5 with over 50% rating it a 5.0.
This information was shared with Pathway Homes and the CSB so that they
could improve the housemate’s relationships.
While 85% of the respondents found no reason to
suggest improvements in the houses, the other 15% did make suggestions such as
changing the furnace filters more often, getting better teamwork from their
housemates on chores, cleaning the house, and sharing the yard work.
Various residents have assisted in TBF activities
such as moving furniture, rearranging furnishings for the new houses for other
residents, installing shrubs and other ornamental gardening features. Residents often call Trudy Harsh with
questions about taking care of their houses or needs for repair and
maintenance. TBF is looking for
volunteers to become house representatives, plumbers, and maintenance chiefs at
each of the houses.
The greatest challenge was to provide housing
that will provide a place where wellness can occur to all residents. While “Housing First” is an important element
to improving the health and well-being of those afflicted with brain diseases,
they must remain committed to their recovery program. This year, one resident failed to comply with
his treatment. He had gone off his meds
and had become highly disruptive. By the
time the other housemates reported him to the Pathway Homes counselor, he had
turned on the water faucets and plugged the drains of the shower and toilets
causing over $25,000 of water damage to the house. Police were called and took him to the
hospital. Insurance covered much of the
damage and the house was closed for 2 months.
Pathway Homes found temporary housing for the remaining residents.
We have addressed the concerns of disruptive
residents by recruiting volunteers to be House Representatives who visit the
home monthly to meet with the residents, receive complaints about the lack of
complying with the lease and house rules, and examine the orderliness and cleanliness
of the home. If there are any
violations, a letter of warning is sent to the resident with copies to their
counselor so that deficiencies can be addressed. Pathway Homes welcomes our surveillance as it
improves their ability to assist the resident’s recovery and we will be meeting
bi-monthly to assess progress.