for them to go,” said Brandan. And the needs in the community seem to be increasing. “When I took over at this shelter, we had seven peo- ple staying in our facility. Now we are full nearly every night of the year. We have 32 beds every night that are full,” Brandan said. Lack of affordable housing con- tributes to rural homelessness, he noted. As Washington, D.C.’s suburbs sprawl farther west, housing costs are going up in this small rural city. Even with a job, many people cannot afford to rent an apartment. Addiction and mental illness also play a role in rural homelessness. Brandan thinks it is key for services to be offered to people experiencing homelessness in rural areas. “A network can make a differ- ence for a person experiencing homelessness,” he said. “If you take a person from Winchester and move him or her to D.C. [where there are more services for people who are experiencing homelessness], his chances of getting out of homeless- ness don’t improve, because he doesn’t have a network in D.C. We have to help people where they are at.” His passion for helping people experiencing homelessness in rural areas is matched by Dennis and Torrey. “We see rural homeless ministry as getting upstream. We have to break this cycle,” Dennis said. “We don’t want for the kids in the rural school districts today, to be the people in the mission in 50 years.” Ĩ WWW.AGRM.ORG JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 37 Even with a job, many people cannot afford to rent an apartment. Addiction and mental illness also play a role in rural homelessness. Ami is a writer, blogger, and public relations consultant near Washington, D.C. You can contact her at email@example.com.