County deems families’ shelters in tent community unsafe to live in

WOODBRIDGE, Va. -- In June, DCW50 was invited into the woods.  In the woods, just 25 miles south of Washington, D.C., right off Interstate 95, sits a tent community. The community is spread out over about 54 acres of land in Woodbridge, Virginia. Dozens of families call the community home.

The tent community off Prince William Parkway is one of more than 50 homeless camps in Prince William County.  Some of the people who live in the community work minimum wage jobs, have fallen on hard times, and cannot afford even a one-bedroom apartment in the county.  Instead they live in tents and structures they built with materials they found while dumpster diving.


Friday, DCW50 received a call from Dwyane Green, who has lived in the woods for seven years, saying the county deemed his home unsafe to live in.


Green said Child Protective Services found out his grandchildren came to visit and a couple days later he found a notice on his door.


“I feel like, if my structure were unsafe, why did it stand for two years? What is it about my structure that is not safe?  It is solid you can’t shake it, you cannot rock it,” Green expressed.


When DCW50 reached out to Prince William County, the communication director released a statement:


“There were individuals, including children, living in structures that were not built to code. Our Building Code enforcement was notified of the structures and the potential unsafe conditions. Following an inspection, the structures were posted unsafe for occupancy. The people living in the structure were not evicted from the property, nor were any other individuals. However, the structures are unsafe, and therefore nobody is permitted to occupy the structures that were built on the property and posted.”


Volunteers with an organization called HUGS, said the reality is there are a kids and families living in deplorable conditions in the county.


HUGS has plans to build a community of tiny houses for the homeless population in Prince William county.


Volunteers with an organization called hugs – says the reality is there are a kids and families living in deplorable conditions in the county


Anne Marie Landry with HUGS issued a statement explaining what the organization is working on:


“HUGS wants to house homeless through a program called Housing First.  We want to give a homeless person what they need most, a home without prerequisites.  Follow it with individualized wrap-around services and within 4-6 months…Whether it be to get clean, get sober,  get job training, etc. HUGS wants to implement this program via Tiny Houses, something that has had great success in other areas of the country and is now being adopted as a housing option by HUD.


TINY HOUSES are relatively cheap, easy and quick to build. HUGS is currently putting together a presentation to the county about a TINY HOUSE COMMUNITY. It would consist of about 20-30 tiny houses, plus a central area for various services. Each structure would be about 8'x16'. There would be rent paid in a sliding scale.


We have been super busy fundraising and with our current pledges could cover land and building materials. We only ask the county for a variance in zoning since there currently is no code in PWC for tiny houses.


If we had our village, we would not have folks living in unsafe structures they built from dumpster-diving for materials…They would be able to be in a safe environment where they could heal.”