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Fairfax Community Services Board Faces $9M Shortfall

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"Ok. (click) Alright. (click) Multiplier cell reference. (click) Then we need to auto-fill. Then we need to total."

Gregory Miller is teaching a lesson on Excel spreadsheets at the Falls Church Drop-In Center. The Falls Church center is one of Fairfax County's four drop-in centers, where people with substance abuse problems, mental illnesses or intellectual disabilities can take a class, join a support group or have lunch.

These days, the mood here is not so good. The Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board is facing a $9 million shortfall, and county leaders are trying to figure out where to make the cuts. Center director Jerome Hughes says the scale of potential cutbacks to client services is broad.

"It won't be directly the drop-in center, but it may be their medication. It may be where they're living at," Hughes said.

Malecia, who asks that her last name not be used to protect her identity, kicked her drug habit and now teaches a support class for people with substance-abuse problems. Potential cutbacks could jeopardize her program and the lives of people battling the grip of drug addition, she says.

"I went through a program myself. It saved my life," Malecia says. "If you take everything away, then people like me, I mean, you can continue to save lives like me."

As the computer class wraps up, another client, John, says the cuts now being considered would be devastating.

"It would be a huge loss to many people I think, who are seeking to better themselves," says John, who also asks that his last name not be used. "I'm going to keep coming here as long as they allow me, and as long as there's places like this."

The Human Services Council and the Community Services Board are holding a meeting at the Fairfax County Government Center June 18 to hear feedback on the revenue shortfall, which was created by state and federal cutbacks as well as increased demand for services.

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