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Research Paper on Community Health in Woodbridge, Virginia

5 pages
1191 words
Boston College
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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Woodbridge is a well-renowned census-designated place in Prince William County, one of the many counties in the United States and it is located on the Potomac River, in the Commonwealth of Virginia. With regard to the most recent census that was conducted on 1 July 2015, the population of this particular county was estimated to be 451, 721 making it the second-most populous county in the state of Virginia. The county seat of Prince William County is the independent city of Manassas. More fundamentally, Woodbridge is located just about 20 miles to the south of Washington DC.

Vulnerable Population Overview

Being a tent community, the tent city in Woodbridge, Va. is one of approximately 57 homeless camps in Prince William County. More specifically, it is home to those who are considered the most vulnerable population in the region. More than 500 homeless people call this place, home. As expected, the lives of the homeless persons in the tent city are characterized by extreme poverty and hopelessness. For most of them, living in this miserable environment happened as an accident, and they have since not been able to work their way out of Tent City. Besides, other than the poor living conditions, a majority of the people in this homeless community are not sure of where they will get their next meal and for this reason, their day to day lives consist of holding signs that ask for extra change from passersby (Odyssey, 2017). Most of them would, therefore, do anything just to get some fresh water or to have a night where they do not have to rummage through a dumpster for something to eat.

Regarding the economic conditions of this homeless population, difficulty affording a house is one of the most widely acknowledged reasons why these people ended up being homeless. House affordability in Woodbridge has increasingly become more of a challenge, especially for the low-income earners. Besides, families who time out of HPRP funds always find it difficult to keep paying rent and are therefore forced to be homeless. Due to the poor living conditions, the homeless population is characterized by various communicable and nutrition-related diseases, which are also considered the primary causes of death among the vulnerable communities. More so, studies substantiate that approximately 9% of the homeless adults in this community were dually diagnosed with mental illnesses and substance abuse (Grabovschi, Loignon, & Fortin, 2013).

Strengths, Risk Factors, and Barriers

Unlike other vulnerable populations, the homeless individuals are particularly susceptible to health care quality problems for a variety of underlying barriers such as their living environment, financial circumstances, functional, and developmental status among others. More fundamentally, the homeless population living in Woodbridge are usually at the risk of poor access to health care which leads to delayed clinical presentation, increased reliance on emergency departments and hence higher rates of hospitalization. A majority of this population are uninsured and for this, therefore, explains the significant number of the unmet medical, mental and surgical care. In the same vein, Chrystal, Glover, Young, Whelan, Austin, Johnson, and Kertesz (2015) claim that competing priorities among the homeless population is yet another risk factor that represents a substantial barrier to quality health care. For instance, the insufficiency of food is closely associated with the impaired access to both medical and mental care among adults and children.

Community Resources

Despite the many risk factors affecting the homeless population in Woodbridge, Virginia, the Prince William County has a vast range of community resources that are available to these vulnerable people. For instance, the county has various Emergency Homeless Shelters which provide both long-term and short-term relief for the homeless and the low-income earners. Although helpful, a majority of these shelters only allow the homeless people to stay in the facilities for a maximum of three months. Besides, these shelters offer free meals and other supportive services to the homeless. Another common community resource in the region is the renowned Woodbridge Homeless Shelters and Services for The Needy. With their primary goal is helping the needy of America, this program offers various homeless resources such as the Homeless Help Forum, community shelters, and transitional resources for the homeless, among others. The community also offers programs that do not only offer accommodation to the homeless but also offer clinic and treatment center resources, special services such as alcohol and drug rehab treatments and many others (Grabovschi et al., 2013).

Community Health Problem Diagnosis

Food and water sanitation is the primary community health problem that significantly affects the homeless of Woodbridge region. While food sanitation is largely concerned with health hazards and the sanitary features of food handling, the homeless population in this region experience this problem since most of the food that is readily available to a majority of these people are obtained from dumpsters. Besides, this community health problem also concerns the quality and the protection of food values with economic and technological aspects of food handling. This is, however, not present for the homeless population in Woodbridge and for this reason, disease prevention among this vulnerable population is almost impossible. Nonetheless, a community health nurse could positively impact this food sanitation community health problem through monitoring the health trends and risk factors affecting these populations and eventually help the community in setting their local health priorities. Besides, the community health nurse could also engage in systematic investigation, collection, and analysis of data to enhance the overall community health practice.

Food safety is the Healthy People 2020 numbered objective that best relates to this particular community health problem. More precisely, the primary goal of this particular objective is to ensure that people in the United States consume food that is clean and handled with high sanitary features. This, in essence, will help reduce the number of foodborne illnesses in the United States through the improvement of food safety-related behaviors and practices. According to this 2020 objective, there is evidence that the consumption of safer foods ensures healthier and longer lives among different populations and hence ensuring less costly health care and more resilient food industry (Healthy People, 2018).


In conclusion, the homeless are among the countrys most vulnerable population. Being homeless primarily in the United States is characterized by various adverse conditions such as poverty, harsh and extreme weather conditions, drug abuse and domestic violence, among many others. In the case of the homeless of Woodbridge, Virginia, people between ages 18 and 58 are living in deplorable conditions which leaves them vulnerable to multiple community health problems such as food sanitation, domestic violence, and abuse among many others. Nonetheless, all is not lost for these populations since there are various community resources and programs that are available for the homeless.


Chrystal, J. G., Glover, D. L., Young, A. S., Whelan, F., Austin, E. L., Johnson, N. K., Kertesz, S. G. (2015). Experience of Primary Care among Homeless Individuals with Mental Health Conditions. PLOS ONE, 10(2), e0117395. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0117395

Grabovschi, C., Loignon, C., & Fortin, M. (2013). Mapping the concept of vulnerability related to health care disparities: a scoping review. BMC Health Services Research, 13(1). doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-94

Healthy People. (2018). Food Safety | Healthy People 2020. Retrieved from

Odyssey. (2017, November 11). Tent City: The Unknown Community Of Woodbridge, Virginia. Retrieved from

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