Arlington, VA

The Rosslyn Business Improvement District is hosting its annual holiday clothing drive to benefit those experiencing homelessness from Monday (Nov. 30) through Dec. 15.

Accepted donations include winter coats, sweaters, sweatshirts, hats and gloves, which will be given to A-SPAN, an organization dedicated to ending homelessness in Arlington, which has distributed the donated items since 2011.

“While 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, we’re glad we can continue the Rosslyn BID’s partnership with A-SPAN to give back to our community this holiday season,” Rosslyn BID President Mary-Claire Burick said in a statement.

Those who want to make donations are encouraged to put their items in plastic bags and drop them off in gift-wrapped donation boxes at participating buildings in Rosslyn.

Last year, 205 bags of clothing were collected, and in 2018, 269 bags were collected.

The clothing drive coincides with A-SPAN’s hypothermia season, which started on Nov. 9. To prepare for the influx of people needing care through March, it added 35 beds to its Homeless Services Center, and will be providing three meals a day both at its services center and hypothermia shelter.

“Despite COVID-19, we provide 24/7 care which includes a 24/7 shelter, 24/7 nursing and medical respite services, and a commercial kitchen at the Center,” CEO Betsy Frantz said in a statement.

The increase in people needing assistance comes as coronavirus cases in Arlington are rising. The organization has implemented isolation and quarantine protocols, she said.

“Emergency protocols are overseen by our full-time onsite nurse practitioner,” Frantz said. “All clients are being rapid tested and all staff and clients have daily temperature checks.”

The participating Rosslyn residential buildings are:

  • 1800 Oak Apts. (1800 Oak)
  • Bennett Park (1601 Clarendon Blvd)
  • Homewood Suites (1900 N Quinn St)
  • River Place North (1121 Arlington Blvd)
  • River Place East (1021 Arlington Blvd)
  • River Place South (1011 Arlington Blvd)
  • River Place West (1111 Arlington Blvd)
  • Turnberry Tower (1881 N Nash)
  • Waterview (1111 19th St)

For those who do not live in these buildings, there will be a collection box outside the Rosslyn BID office at 1911 N. Fort Myer Drive. The office will be open for donations Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

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Morning Notes

Real Estate Market Remains Hot — “A total of 264 properties went to closing in October, up 25.7 percent from the 210 transactions a year before… The Arlington-wide average sales price of $757,378 recorded in October was up 14.5 percent from $661,447, with a 16.7-percent increase in the average sales price of single-family homes (to $1,148,445) and a 2.7-percent increase for attached homes, such as townhouses and rowhouses (to $537,547).” [InsideNova]

Investment for Arlington Tech Firm — “The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) today announced that Virginia Founders Fund (VFF) has invested in Rosslyn, Va.-based Mesh Intelligence, developer of a proactive food safety and supply chain solution to predict upcoming and evolving risks and disruptions globally to help organizations plan and act faster.” [GlobeNewswire via Potomac Tech Wire]

A-SPAN Gets New CEO — “The Board of Directors of A-SPAN, a nonprofit organization that provides life-saving supportive services for vulnerable people, has announced the appointment of Betsy Frantz to the position of President/CEO on a permanent basis.” [Press Release]

Outdoor Music Prompts Complaints in F.C. — “Live music has been a major draw for Falls Church Distillers over the past few months, which has moved outdoors due to Covid-19 concerns. However, residential neighbors in nearby apartment complexes haven’t taken to the adaptation as well.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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Morning Notes

Crystal City Parking Lot Staying Put — “Crystal City has been a scalding hot market for new development ever since Amazon.com Inc. moved in — but one well-positioned lot will continue to sit empty for the foreseeable future. Gould Property Co., which owns a small parking lot at 2661 S. Clark St., filed a request with Arlington County last month asking for permission to maintain the property as surface parking through early 2026.” [Washington Business Journal]

Westover Apartment Building Named — “Kathleen Sibert, who led the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN) from 2008 until earlier this year, will remain a permanent part of the organization through a facility named in her honor… Located in Westover, Sibert House is designed to provide permanent-supportive housing and a foundation to help individuals achieve better health, overcome substance abuse and mental illness, obtain job security, and attain their goals.” [InsideNova]

Schools Also Facing Budget Gap — “Superintendent Durán said that APS is facing an estimated budget gap at this time of between $24 million and $31 million. The APS budget gap continues to fluctuate and is based on continued unknowns including more possible revenue loss, more possible savings and more costs as APS works to return students to in-person learning while continuing to provide distance learning. The school district is examining its current practices and reviewing the budget.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Arlington Water Facts — “In a year, Arlington residents use some 8 billion gallons of water. That’s about a trillion 8-ounce glasses of the stuff. Clean, safe and always at the ready.” [Twitter]

Real Estate Costs on the Rise — “Not only are home prices on the rise across the Washington area; the average cost on a per-square-foot basis continues to grow, too… In Virginia, Arlington led the pack, with its average per-square-foot cost of $455 up 4.4 percent from $436.” [InsideNova]

Real Estate Firm Opening Second Office — “McEnearney Associates is excited to announce a new office location in the heart of Clarendon in Arlington, Virginia located at 3033 Wilson Boulevard… This will be McEnearney Associate’s second office location in Arlington.” [Press Release]

Airport Concession Sales Way Down — “Roughly 33 concessionaires were open at Reagan and 44 at Dulles, or just over 40% of all shops in the two airports… the shops that are open are still struggling with very low foot traffic and a customer base that is spending less than normal. Sales per passenger were down 20% at Reagan National and 22% at Dulles in August compared to the same month of 2019.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Early Voting on Irish TV — “Irish TV RTÉ was in Courthouse filming the early voting for the election.” [@Irelands4Courts/Twitter]

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(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) As Arlingtonians scramble to stock up on emergency supplies to weather the coronavirus pandemic, some local nonprofits that are helping those most in need are starting to see the strain on the county’s most vulnerable populations.

“We’re still trying to get used to the new reality,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of Arlington Thrive, a nonprofit that provides emergency funding to people in crisis. “We’re trying to figure out how dire the situation is for Arlingtonians, not just [in terms of] health but also economic [situations].”

Schneider said Arlington Thrive and many of the other local nonprofits like A-SPAN and AFAC are collaborating closely to try to assess where needs are highest. The local nonprofits are benefitting, Schneider said, from a few years of community leaders laying the groundwork to provide immediate help across their organizations in the event of an emergency.

“There’s a lot of collaboration going on led primarily by Arlington County and the other community foundations,” Schneider said. “Thrive, like most nonprofits, has been leaning that direction and moving even closer during this crisis. This afternoon I’m on a conference call with 22 other nonprofit executive directors and the director of human services to talk about community-wide response.”

Though things look pretty bleak nationally, Schneider said he’s still staying inspired by local acts of kindness and charity.

“We’ve seen an outpouring of support from the community but also seeing a lot of people who just want to try to make a difference,” Schneider said. “You see these awesome things that teachers are doing and Facebook groups popping up, so we’re trying to help people identify where the need is greatest and channel resources to that… but no matter how good the nonprofit, at some point demand is going to outstrip that.”

Currently, Schneider said the most immediate needs in the short term are for food and, with schools out, child care.

“The dire need right now is for child care assistance and, frankly, because of the anticipated need at AFAC there’s assistance for funding for food,” Schneider said. “Secondly, what we’re trying to do is prepare ourselves for what will be the long term, six-month impact. Even after the quarantine and the immediate crisis ends as people are still out of work or the economy gets back up, they’re going to be turning to Thrive.”

Last week, as the coronavirus crisis was ramping up, the organization announced that it had received $60,000 from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Thrive’s largest private grant ever. In this time of need, however, it will only go so far.

Schneider said Thrive is currently raising money for emergencies like rental assistance, medical assistance, and utility assistance for people who may have just lost their primary income. While Virginia has suspended non-emergency evictions, there’s still the threat that people could be forced out of their homes as soon as that’s lifted.

“People are already in a position where they’re struggling to make those payments,” Schneider said. “I worry about the need being so great in our community that we’re all going to be overwhelmed, which is why you’re seeing that partnership and collaboration.

Donations can be made to Thrive online. Schneider said people who want to help their community could also volunteer at Volunteer Arlington or donate to the Arlington Community Foundation.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Dorsey Staying Put, For Now — “The chairman of the Arlington County Board says he’s not going anywhere… ‘My personal financial issues do not impinge on my ability to work with colleagues both in Arlington and throughout the region, our county staff and our community,’ Dorsey said. ‘I intend to demonstrate over the next four years those who voted to re-elect me did not make a mistake.'” [InsideNova]

RiverHouse Plans Pick Up Opposition — “JBG Smith’s plans to add nearly 1,000 new housing units to its RiverHouse Apartment Complex in Pentagon City, not far from the future home of Amazon’s second headquarters, now look to be in trouble. Arlington officials and neighbors are pushing back against the developer’s proposal.” [Washington Business Journal]

Police Chase Theft Suspect in Rosslyn — “Two suspects allegedly entered a business, concealed merchandise in bags and left without paying. An employee attempted to confront the suspects outside the business and, following a brief scuffle, the suspects fled the scene on foot. A lookout was broadcast by dispatch and a responding officer observed two individuals matching the suspect descriptions walking in the area. One suspect complied with the officer’s commands to stop while the other suspect fled.” [Arlington County, Twitter]

One Argument for ‘National Landing’ — “In 2018 when Amazon announced it would locate its new headquarters in National Landing, people familiar with Crystal City scratched their heads and said ‘that’s not a real place.’ But the name Crystal City itself was also an out-of-nowhere developer creation about 60 years earlier… Before it was Crystal City, it was Brick Haven, so named for its abundant brick factories.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Restaurants Still Waiting for Amazon Effect — Restaurant owners in Crystal City are excited about Amazon’s arrival in the neighborhood, but are not yet seeing tangible benefits in the form of increased business. [Washington Business Journal]

CEO of A-SPAN Retiring — “A-SPAN announces the retirement of its President & CEO, Kathy Sibert. After leading the organization for 11 years, Sibert will continue her role through January 31, 2020. Sibert became the President & CEO of A-SPAN (Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, Inc) in 2008.” [Press Release]

Vienna Poaches from Arlington Economic Development — “The Town of Vienna has hired a business development manager in Arlington County to help revitalize local businesses. The town recently announced that Natalie Monkou, an Annadale resident, will be the town’s first-ever economic development manager.” [Tysons Reporter]

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An Arlington bicycling group will host its first annual “Cranksgiving” charity ride to help the homeless.

Cosponsored by the Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail, the choose-your-own-adventure scavenger hunt ride will take place on Saturday, November 23 at 10 a.m. and will benefit the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN).

The ride starts and ends at Ireland’s Four Courts at 2051 Wilson Blvd. in Courthouse The event is free with advanced registration required, with teams of 4-5 members are encouraged.

Once the ride begins, cyclists will design their own route based on a map of participating stores. During their stops, they’ll purchase a food, clothing, or hygiene item to donate to A-SPAN, to benefit those in need during the winter season.

Everything purchased must be hauled by bicycle, in a bag, pannier, rack, or trailer.

At the end of the event, cyclists will gather back at Ireland’s Four Courts to tally who gathered the most items, with prizes awarded to the winners.

“Cranksgiving is a way to have a lot of fun while also helping others during the holiday season,” said event organizer Judd Isbell in a press release. “We are thrilled with the number businesses and organizations who are enthusiastically supporting this event.”

Cranksgiving is held annual across over fifty cities throughout the United States around Thanksgiving. This year is the first time the free event has come to Arlington.

Participating organizations include:

  • Casual Adventure
  • Phoenix Bikes
  • Bike Arlington
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Los Tios Crystal City
  • Ireland’s Four Courts
  • Crystal City BID

Photo courtesy Chris Rief

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The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by Michael Garcia, a Columbia Pike insurance agent who serves as the board chair of the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, a local nonprofit that works with homeless individuals in Arlington. A-SPAN is weighing in on the proposed Virginia Hospital Center expansion, which the Arlington Planning Commission and some residents who live near the hospital oppose in its current form.

I am writing in support of the Virginia Hospital Center expansion project. It is my hope that the County Board recognizes the enormous value that VHC brings to this community and approves the project, as soon as possible.

As Board Chair of the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN) and a long-time Arlington resident, I see first-hand the consequences of delayed healthcare visits. The homeless clients at the Homeless Services Center frequently suffer from infections, life threatening reactions to untreated chronic illnesses and other medical conditions. That is why we have the Medical Respite and Nursing Services Program at the Homeless Services Center. For most Arlington County citizens, when a doctor says to go home and recuperate, that’s what they do, but what do you do when you have no home? VHC and A-SPAN through our partnership work together to ensure that these homeless individuals and veterans have a safe, compassionate, high-quality environment in which to recuperate.

VHC staff make every effort to assess and treat patients in a holistic way. When homeless patients are discharged from the Hospital to the Medical Respite Program, A-SPAN is part of the follow-up care plan and clients are referred to VHC outpatient services, as appropriate.

I cannot stress enough the value of a new Behavioral Health Center like the one proposed by VHC. Over 70% of homeless veterans and individuals suffer from some form of mental illness and this condition must be treated. We are fortunate that VHC, an Arlington provider that was recently named one of America’s 100 top Hospitals for the third year in a row, is willing to respond to the community’s need for more outpatient mental health services. Moreover, the VHC has indicated that all patients would be welcome at the new Center, regardless of their ability to pay.

The distinction of VHC being named as one of the 100 Top Hospitals in the nation is an honor benefitting all Arlingtonians by providing excellent care to the community. I am confident that this commitment to excellence will extend to the newly proposed Behavioral Health Center services, as well. VHC is a community partner worthy of support and we hope our elected leaders demonstrate this support.

Sincerely,

Michael Garcia
Board Chair, A-SPAN

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

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An ’80s themed bootcamp will take place in Rosslyn tomorrow to honor Ralf Hofmann, a man remembered as a passionate advocate for Arlington’s homeless and recent immigrants.

Hofmann, a former General Manager at the Hyatt Centric Arlington who was very active in several local charities, passed away on July 30 after a battle with a rare and aggressive cancer. All proceeds of the bootcamp will go towards a GoFundMe set up to support his wife, Heather, and their two sons.

The bootcamp will be held in Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway). Sign in for the event starts at 6:30 p.m., with the workout starting at 7:30. A raffle afterwards will give attendees a chance to win a weekend stay at the Hyatt Centric, free dinner at Cityhouse, or a month of free coffee from Key Bridge Terrace. Attendees are encouraged to wear ’80s themed workout attire and plenty of neon.

Hofmann worked in culinary arts for over 30 years, working in the Hyatt Centric as executive chef before becoming general manager. In his work at the hotel, he regularly partnered with groups like the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN) and served on the board of La Cocina, a program that offers local latino immigrants a bilingual course in job training and language skills.

“We approached [the Hyatt Centric] to become a partner, meaning they hire our students for internships,” said Paty Funegra, CEO of La Cocina. “Ralf right away pushed to sign that agreement. They hosted our students there in the kitchen, and when he got promoted to operations manager, he approached me to offer more help. ‘I’m here,’ he told me, ‘can I help you in any other capacities?'”

Funegra said Hofmann was one of La Cocina’s biggest advocates, and was active in helping the group fundraise.

“He was my mentor,” said Funegra. “He was very generous, very open. He had a big heart, and cooking was his passion.”

Funegra said that Hofmann himself was an immigrant and that he was very conscious of trying to offer opportunities to others. Hofmann had a large collection of cooking books, which he donated to La Cocina to form the start of their library at their new facility at 3507 Columbia Pike. Funegra said they will be naming it the Hofmann Family Library in his honor.

Kathy Sibert, CEO of A-SPAN, said Hofmann was a driving force behind having the Hyatt host events for local charities and holding donation drives. For those in A-SPAN ready to work, Hofmann made sure there were internships available.

“Ralf was very involved,” said Sibert. “He worked on all of these things. He came to the events and really set the tone with his staff: to be very involved in the community.”

“We thought the Hyatt might be a good relationship, but Ralf really brought it to a personal level,” said Scott Miller, senior director of development at ASPAN. “He was absolutely the first to offer up an internship program, giving people a second or third chance. That was one of our first corporate partners for an internship. There are a lot of hurdles to jump, you had to get that person willing to raise their hand and say, ‘I’ll be your champion.’ Without Ralf’s help, we wouldn’t have had those jobs and internships, and those people wouldn’t have had their second chance. He opened up their facilities. It was his willingness to take that chance and be that champion with them.”

As a manager, Miller said Hofmann was very inclusive and made sure everyone had a voice and felt included.

“It was never a manager talking down to people, it was seeing people eye to eye,” said Miller. “He wanted to make sure people felt comfortable and friendly.”

Miller said whenever someone new would start working at the Hyatt Centric, Hofmann would make sure they had a “coffee break buddy”, someone who could help show them around and make sure they didn’t feel isolated.

According to his friends, Hofmann was also a very smart dresser.

“He would always wear beautiful suits; tailored with a handkerchief,” said Miller. “One time, we borrowed a riser for our open house… When we finally got it back to him, it must have been 100 degrees outside. The hospitality people were out there doing other stuff, and he’s out there in his expensive suit moving it by himself.”

Miller said Hofmann tore part of his suit moving the heavy riser, but that he was dismissive of it.

“That was Ralf; willing to help,” said Miller. “He wouldn’t pull someone off desk duty if it was something he could do himself.”

Photo via Rosslyn BID

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Morning Notes

Instant Runoff Bill Fails in Richmond — It appeared to be headed toward potential passage, but a bill to allow Arlington County to hold instant-runoff elections for County Board was referred to another committee on a 51-49 House of Delegates vote and is effectively dead for 2018. [InsideNova]

Arlington Denies Request for 911 Recording — “Arlington County has denied a request from the family of Bijan Ghaisar to release the 911 call made after a hit-and-run crash he was involved in, before a police chase ended with U.S. Park Police fatally shooting him.” [Covering the Corridor, WTOP]

ARLnow on Kojo — ARLnow founder Scott Brodbeck will discussing the state of local news on the Kojo Nnamdi Show today. The show airs at noon on WAMU 88.5 FM. [Kojo Nnamdi Show]

A-SPAN Celebrates Quarter Century — The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, which started as a grassroots effort to address local homelessness, recently marked its 25th anniversary with a fundraiser and celebration in Rosslyn. [InsideNova]

Email List Hits 10K — ARLnow’s email newsletter mailing list crossed the 10,000 mark on Monday. Thank you to all of our subscribers, who are receiving our headlines free of social media filters. (ARLnow’s Twitter account reached 40,000 followers in December and our newly-verified Facebook account is on the verge of 24,000.)

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

Arlington Adding Winter Shelter Beds — In response to the frigid temperatures, Arlington County says it is expanding the number of hypothermia slots at the Courthouse area winter shelter for singles operated by A-SPAN, “adding 10 more to the current 25.” [Twitter]

Bicycle Beltway Proposal — “A new bicycle beltway is set to be endorsed by the region’s Transportation Planning Board in January. The full Outer Loop would be 45 miles long. The beltway would also have additional connections in the middle, through the heart of downtown D.C. along the National Mall.” [WTOP]

Father of Rep. Don Beyer Dies — “Donald S. Beyer, Sr., the patriarch of the storied Beyer family dynasty in Falls Church, died last Saturday two weeks before his 94th birthday.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Local NYE Bar Options — Looking for a place to ring in the new year in Arlington? Last month we published a sponsored list of five options along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor that are still applicable. [ARLnow]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Since 2013, Arlington’s chronic homelessness rate has dropped 64 percent, and it was the second community in the nation able to claim to have ended veteran homelessness.

This is no accident, officials say: it’s because of the county’s “housing first” model.

“A long time ago… the thought was you need to get someone ready to move into housing — and that has been completely debunked,” said Kathy Sibert, the president/CEO of nonprofit A-SPAN, which works to end homelessness in the county. “What you want to do is get people into housing and stabilized.”

This approach is part of Arlington’s “10 Year Plan to End Homelessness,” which was launched in 2008. The plan aims to ensure that no person or family lacks an adequate and affordable home.

“We try to get to the root causes of homelessness so that we can build the person up to a stable place where they can not only just get housing but maintain it for a longer time,” said Kurt Larrick, assistant director at the county’s Department of Human Services.

Arlington did see a slight increase in homelessness for 2017. In 2016, there were 174 homeless people, and in 2017 that number jumped to 232. However, Sibert said homelessness “ebbs and flows,” which she said helps t0 explain the uptick.

Once somebody is housed, Sibert said, it is much easier to work on their challenges. If they have substance-abuse problems or mental illness, authorities know where they live and can easily set up appointments for them.

Getting a job is much easier once a person is housed, too. Rather than spending each day waking up on the street, schlepping across the county to get breakfast, wandering somewhere else to take a shower, then trekking elsewhere to find clean clothes, when a person is housed they can do all those things in an hour, making it much more feasible for them to become employed.

“To get everything done that you [typically do] in one hour to go to work takes all day [for them],” Sibert said.

The Homeless Services Center in Courthouse, which opened in 2015 in an aging office building, was designed to help homeless individuals do all those things in one location, making it the first place of its kind in the D.C. metropolitan area.

The center has 50 year-round shelter beds, five medical respite beds, 25 extra beds in the winter, employment and life skills training programs, art classes, a full-time nurse practitioner, mental illness and substance-abuse counselors, showers, laundry and mail facilities, free meals three times a day and more.

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