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Cardinal Bank Spotlight: Christopher Fay


The economy is improving, but deep pockets of poverty still exist in the DC region, including Fairfax County, where 2,000 people are homeless on any given night. One organization working on the issue is Homestretch, a 25-year-old nonprofit led by Christopher Fay that provides permanent housing and skills for self-sufficiency. The family gets a key their first day at Homestretch to a house they’ll live in for at least two years. Then the organization starts tackling the issues that may have led to their homelessness. 


The 25-person organization, which has a $2.8M annual budget, serves about 75 families per year and controls 55 housing units. (This pic above was from the organization’s recent annual picnic.) Each year, about 20 families complete Homestretch’s program and move out. Chris, who’s been at the helm nine years, says the housing is scattered, which means people can be hidden in the community and frees Homestretch from having “not in my backyard” problems with the community. 


Like many nonprofits, Homestretch has had to reduce its dependency on government grants, which have been shrinking. The organization raises the bulk of its funds from individuals, corporate partnerships, foundations, civic groups and the faith community. Christopher says Cardinal Bank also helped Homestretch refinance all of its mortgages two years ago, saving it over $1M in interest payments over a 10-year period. Chris says Homestretch has had more success in making homeless people self-sufficient than the government’s HUD programs.

Fun facts about Christopher Fay:

Hometown: Hiram, OH
Current home: Capitol Hill
Why DC: Job at the Milton Eisenhower Foundation—replicated a model program for ex-offenders known as Delancy Street, which Christopher says is an extraordinary success story.
Career: Started 30 years ago in NYC, helping turn a church-based soup kitchen into a culinary arts training program. It also included drug treatment services and micro-enterprises that helped teach work skills that led to jobs.
Free time: Weightlifting, bicycling, hot yoga, hiking, reading history, listening to music and spending time with family.
Family: Married to Claire; adult stepdaughter.
Bucket list: Visit every country in Africa, see Machu Picchu, bicycle around entire US perimeter, write a book about career, illustrate more children’s books (already done a dozen) and see the Northern Lights with wife.
Favorite restaurant: Peter Luger’s in NYC
Favorite movie: The Godfather
Most people don’t know: He wrote a screenplay that was turned into a Showtime film–won a Humanitas Prize nomination for original screenplay and an Emmy nomination for actress Jane Alexander. 

For more information about Cardinal Bank’s work with associations and nonprofits, click here.