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Housing The Homeless


Alexandria, Virginia is facing a problem that’s growing in communities across the U.S.…homelessness among the working poor.  Housing prices in the area have risen 21 percent in the last year.  That might be good news for realtors but it’s creating a crisis for some low-income families.  Kim Riemland profiles a man who’s trying to survive while he waits for a solution.


(Locator: Alexandria, Va.)

Andy Powell/Plumber (showing shelves in van): “I’ve got salt and pepper, peanut butter.  I’ve got a stash of spring water.”

Andy Powell is giving a tour of his home – a work van full of tools and toiletries.

Andy Powell/Plumber:  “I’ve got a piece of insulation against the back door to block wind. I’ve got a nice stash of food.  There’s tools and equipment in here for me to be able to do my trade.”

Powell’s trade is plumbing. He works full-time but doesn’t make enough to get an apartment. The 54-year-old has lived in this van for several years, sometimes sharing the space with his 6-year-old son.

Andy Powell/Plumber:  “He wants to know whatever McDonald’s latest toy is.”

The Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church in Alexandria, Virginia was formed to help working families like Powell’s.

The Rev. Keary Kincannon/Pastor, Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church:
“We don’t limit that to the homeless, but we were started to help the left out.” 

Advocates say more working people are becoming homeless every day. Affordable housing becomes harder to find when old homes are torn down to make room for new construction.

Laura Derby/Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church: “They would be able to rent a place like the ranch house that was sitting here before, but they certainly can’t afford a place like this. These are running 7-800,000 dollars to purchase them. If you rent them, probably running 1,500-2,000 a month.”

Church members say they’re making progress, but they are a long way from finding permanent homes for Andy Powell – and countless others.

Andy Powell/Plumber:  “My spirits aren’t down. It will get better. The elevator stops somewhere.”


Church members recently scored a small victory in convincing city leaders to set aside one cent of every tax dollar to establish a trust to build affordable housing in Alexandria.

For more information, contact Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church at

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