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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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Homeless Population Decreasing Thanks to ‘Housing-First’ Approach

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.

It opens daily and provides shelter, medical respite and a day program. Its supportive housing programs have a 95 percent retention rate.

“What I’m hearing from business leaders as well as community members is they’re seeing less people on the streets [since the center opened],” Sibert said.

Prior to HSC, there was an A-SPAN-operated emergency winter shelter two blocks away, which was only open from November 1 to March 31.

“[HSC] allowed us to have a year-round shelter to serve that same population,” Larrick said. “We weren’t kicking people out on March 31, we were able to continue working with them. So, it formed a much stronger bridge to stability.”

Sibert explained that there will always be some people who live on the street, because for them it’s a lifestyle choice. Many such people suffer from mental illnesses which make them claustrophobic or antisocial, which deters them from living in a homeless shelter. It also makes them less likely to beg for money on the streets.

“Most homeless don’t panhandle because most homeless people don’t want you to know that they’re homeless,” said Sibert.

When a person frequents HSC where they shower every day, wear clean clothes, get free haircuts and take medication, passersby often have no idea they are actually homeless.

“It really is about treating them with dignity and respect and one of the things that I love about my staff is we never give up on anybody,” Sibert said.

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ARC Food and Clothing Drop-Off Scheduled for Dec. 17

In an unprecedented collaboration, 13 real estate firms and RGS Title have joined forces to provide winter essentials for those in need throughout the Arlington community.

The firms are working together as Arlington Realtors Care (ARC) to collect from the public donated food and clothing items. Items are being delivered to the Arlington Food Assistance Center and A-SPAN. The drive is meant to bring aid to those most in need.

ARC logoARC’s goal is to donate over 2,500 pounds of food to AFAC and several hundred clothing items and blankets to A-SPAN.

Saturday, Dec. 17 is the second community-wide drop off date for members of the public interested in donating outerwear, blankets and food items in support of the drive. For those interested in contributing, the drop-off point is at RGS Title located at 4600 Lee Highway, Suite 110, in Arlington. Collection hours are 10 a.m. through 2 p.m.

A-SPAN’s current needs are coats, winter-wear (gloves, scarfs, beanies, long-johns) and blankets. Items should be new, cleaned or recently laundered.

Food donations are being delivered to The Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), a community-based nonprofit that provides supplemental groceries to Arlington residents. AFAC accepts most unopened, unexpired, and unprepared foods, including perishable items. The organization is most in need of low sodium tomato products (diced, paste, & sauce), low sodium canned tuna, low sodium canned soups, low sodium canned beans, low sugar cereal and cooking oil.

The food and clothing drive started on Nov. 1 and continues through Dec. 31.

Participating firms are Advon Real Estate, Buck & Associates, Century 21 New Millennium, Century 21 Redwood Realty, Coldwell Banker, Compass, Keller Williams Metro Center, Long and Foster, Realtors | Christie’s International Real Estate, McEnearney & Associates, TTR | Sotheby’s International Realty, Washington Fine Properties, LLC and Weichert, Realtors. RGS Title is a host of the event.

For more information on the charities involved, visit the websites for AFAC and A-SPAN.

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Heat Advisory Issued for Arlington

The sun during the heat advisory on Thursday, July 14, 2016Arlington County and the surrounding D.C. area is under a heat advisory today.

High temperatures and high humidity will make for a sweaty and potentially dangerous afternoon.

Those who must spend time outdoors today are advised to drink plenty of water, seek breaks in the shade and avoid strenuous activity if possible.

In response to the heatwave, A-SPAN has opened overflow space and set up additional beds at Arlington’s Homeless Services Center in Courthouse.

A-SPAN also offers daytime drop-ins to help those on the streets beat the heat. The drop-in program is offered from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the shelter, located at 2020-A 14th Street N.

From the National Weather Service:

HEAT ADVISORY FROM 12PM EDT MON UNTIL 8PM EDT MON

* HEAT INDEX VALUES… UP TO 108 DUE TO TEMPERATURES BETWEEN 95 TO 100… AND DEWPOINTS IN THE LOWER 70S.

* IMPACTS… RISK OF HEAT-RELATED ILLNESS FOR THOSE WITHOUT AIR- CONDITIONING OR THOSE OUTDOORS FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD. TO REDUCE RISK DURING OUTDOOR WORK… THE OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION RECOMMENDS SCHEDULING FREQUENT REST BREAKS IN SHADED OR AIR CONDITIONED ENVIRONMENTS. ANYONE OVERCOME BY HEAT SHOULD BE MOVED TO A COOL AND SHADED LOCATION. HEAT STROKE IS AN EMERGENCY – CALL 911.

TAKE EXTRA PRECAUTIONS IF YOU WORK OR SPEND TIME OUTSIDE. WHEN POSSIBLE… RESCHEDULE STRENUOUS ACTIVITIES TO EARLY MORNING OR EVENING. KNOW THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION AND HEAT STROKE. WEAR LIGHT WEIGHT AND LOOSE FITTING CLOTHING WHEN POSSIBLE AND DRINK PLENTY OF WATER.

A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THAT A PERIOD OF HIGH TEMPERATURES IS EXPECTED. THE COMBINATION OF HIGH TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY WILL CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE POSSIBLE.

In addition to the sweltering temperatures and humidity, storms are possible today. Via Twitter:

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Morning Notes

I-395 near the Pentagon at dawn

W-L Defeats Yorktown, Twice — The Washington-Lee girls’ and boys’ varsity basketball teams both defeated their Yorktown counterparts yesterday, in cross-county rivalry games. The girls won 54-45, while the boys won 65-59.

Branson-Backed Startup Coming to Rosslyn — OneWeb, a startup that’s aiming to launch a constellation of low-orbit satellites that will provide affordable Internet access across the globe, is coming to Rosslyn. The company, backed by Virgin Group tycoon Richard Branson, will occupy a 6,000-square-foot space in Monday Properties’ 1400 Key Blvd building. The building, which is also home to ARLnow.com, is slated to replaced with an apartment tower and grocery store at some point, though it’s unclear when the redevelopment will move forward. [Washington Business Journal]

Reminder: Get Rid of Dry Christmas Trees — The Arlington County Fire Department is reminding residents that dry Christmas trees are a big fire hazard. The county is currently in the midst of its annual Christmas tree collection. [Twitter]

A-SPAN Kudos for Paisano’s — Paisano’s Pizza saved the day for the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, after A-SPAN’s planned hot dinner for its homeless clients fell through at the last minute. Paisano’s delivered pasta, salad and garlic bread on a cold night and on short notice. [Facebook]

Levine Proposes LGBT Rights Bills — Yesterday we reported on three LGBT rights bills proposed by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D). Delegate-elect Mark Levine (D), who represents part of South Arlington and Alexandria, has proposed several such bills of his own. Among them are bills prohibiting employment, housing and other discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Levine was formerly legislative counsel to former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). [Washington Blade]

TransportationCamp DC Coming to GMU — George Mason University’s Arlington campus will host the 5th annual TransportationCamp DC gathering on Saturday. The “un-conference” will discuss various transportation, technology and mobility issues. More than 400 “thought leaders, young professionals, and students from around the country” are expected to attend. [TransportationCamp]

Thank You to Crystal City Rotary Club — Thank you to the Crystal City-Pentagon Rotary Club for a hearty breakfast this morning. ARLnow.com founder Scott Brodbeck spoke to the group about his experience running a small business that happens to be Arlington’s most-read local news outlet. ARLnow.com will celebrate its sixth anniversary on Jan. 29.

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Housing Homeless Vets in the Shadow of the Pentagon

Former Army Cpl. Alvin HillFormer Army Cpl. Alvin Hill just renewed his lease on an apartment on 8th Road S. in Arlington, almost a year after he originally moved into his home.

For 20 years before that, Hill, who served in New Mexico, Italy and Nuremburg, Germany, was chronically homeless. He had lived on family’s couches and floors, and when he could no longer do that, he slept on the streets of D.C., in shelters in Alexandria and in 24-hour laundromats along Columbia Pike. There were nights he slept in Reagan National Airport, he said; anywhere with a roof and unlocked doors.

Last June, the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, after working with Hill for months getting his finances and documentation in order, found Hill an apartment, secured housing subsidies and provided support to make sure he sustained himself there.

“Housing is the key to ending homelessness,” A-SPAN Executive Director Kathy Sibert told ARLnow.com from her office yesterday. “A lot of the things people take for granted, but just getting up, getting a meal, having clean clothes, maintaining your hygiene, that can take an hour when you’re in a home. When you live on the streets, it could take all day.”

Now, Hill has a place to live and a place to take care of his infant son, who suffers from cerebral palsy and requires round-the-clock attention.

Hill’s plight was far from unique in Arlington and around the country. January’s point-in-time homeless count revealed there are 239 homeless individuals and family in the county, 19 of whom are veterans. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV), 12 percent of all homeless people in the U.S. are veterans, about 50,000 total on any given night.

“You come out [of the military] and you’re lost,” Hill said. “In the Army, everyone did everything for you. You didn’t develop skills you need to make your own decisions.”

Homlessness becomes the new normal, he said. Waking up, finding the places that are giving out food, panhandling for money to buy drinks, and finding a safe sleeping spot; all of it becomes a routine that is increasingly difficult to break.

Kathy Sibert of A-SPAN“You can try to change, but for veterans will mental issues, it just takes one incident of something not happening for you, and you go right back into that mode,” he said. Even for homeless people with jobs, finding a place to live is not as easy as it sounds.

To get an apartment, you need valid ID, and proof of income. Hill, who had no need for a car and no place to store files, needed to get a valid ID. For that, he needed a birth certificate, another piece of documentation lost with his home. He needed to apply for a copy of the birth certificate and a copy of his social security cards. All of the ID applications cost money — money he did not have.

That, he said, is how he wound up on the streets for the better part of two decades. Once he relocated himself to Arlington, he immediately found A-SPAN, and the nonprofit immediately got to work finding him a home.

“Veterans don’t broadcast to each other ‘this is where you find the help you need,'” Hill said. “But when I came to Arlington, everyone knew A-SPAN.”

Last year, Arlington completed its successful 100 Homes campaign, housing more than 100 of its chronically homeless. It was part of a nationwide 100,000 homes campaign, which, when it concluded last June, wound up housing 108,000 people. Hill was honored with a ceremony in D.C. — he was the 100,000th person housed in the campaign.

Hill was one of 16 veterans Arlington housed in the campaign, Sibert said. By 2015, the White House has set a goal of effectively eliminating veteran homelessness in the country, and all homelessness by 2016. The initiative, called Zero:2016, is already off to a good start: according to the NCHV, veteran homelessness has been reduced by 70 percent since 2005.

“We’ve made great strides in eliminating homelessness among the veterans in our community, but we are not resting on our laurels,” Arlington Department of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick said. “Earlier this year Arlington signed on as part of the national Zero:2016 initiative to house homeless veterans and the chronically homeless. The recently completed 100 Homes Campaign not only got many of our most vulnerable people off the streets or out of shelters and into stable housing, it forged stronger ties across the entire continuum of care and taught us how to tap into important resources to help house vets. We’re taking the lessons learned from 100 Homes and using them to make Zero:2016 a success.”

Despite the fact that Arlington is a veteran-dense county, its veteran homelessness rate is below the national average. Sibert said that’s not necessarily because the Pentagon is a neighbor, instead it’s because everyone in the county recognizes the urgency.

“There are a lot of people here with military backgrounds,” she said. “Arlington as a whole is a caring community, and that extends to our veterans, too.”

File photo, bottom

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Arlington’s Homeless Population Falls 18 Percent

Homeless man on a bench outside Arlington Central LibraryTwo months before its new, year-round homeless shelter is set to open, Arlington County released encouraging results from the annual count of its homeless population.

During her monthly report to the Arlington County Board yesterday, County Manager Barbara Donnellan said the results form the count show an 18 percent decline in its overall homeless population from 2014, and a 34 percent drop in homeless families.

The count was conducted overnight from Jan. 28 to 29, and conducted in tandem with other jurisdictions around the region. While it’s not a perfect metric, Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network Executive Director Kathy Sibert said, the numbers are still worth celebrating.

In 2013, the count tallied 479 total homeless people in Arlington. In 2015, there were 239.

Many of those counted were staying in shelters or other temporary housing. The most dramatic number is 39, the number of unsheltered individuals counted in January. In 2013, that number was 146, good for a 73 percent decline. Sibert said those numbers can be directly attributed to the successful “100 Homes Campaign” in the county last year.

“The big thing is it’s such a cost-savings to all of the citizens,” Sibert said. “A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimates it costs communities up to $45,000 to provide care to someone on the streets, compared to only $22,000 when they’re housed.

Donnellan also revealed Tuesday that the county’s year-round Homeless Services Center will open in June, construction permitting. It had originally been slated for opening last fall. When it opens, the shelter will provide 50 permanent beds, 25 beds in the winter, five medical beds for homeless people released from the hospital, as well as a full kitchen and classrooms for job training.

“We focused on getting those medically vulnerable people on the streets into housing,” Sibert said. “That’s how you end homelessness. To end homelessness, you’ve got to get them into housing, so that’s what we’ve done.”

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Morning Notes

Early spring in Westover Village

Advocates Decry Proposed Bike Cut — An optional budget cut floated by Arlington County Manger Barbara Donnellan in her proposed FY 2015-2016 budget is attracting some push back from cyclists. Donnellan said the County Board should consider a $800,000 cut in funds for the county’s BikeArlington program if it wants to make additional cuts beyond her base budget. Bike advocates say the cut “would be a huge mistake.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Condo Fence Mowed Down — A car ran through the fence of a condominium complex next to Long Branch Elementary School Sunday evening. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Resident Survey to Be Mailed — Arlington County is planning to mail its fourth resident survey to 3,600 randomly selected residents. “This survey will help us find out how we’re doing across many different service areas – and also pinpoint where we need to improve,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. [Arlington County]

Custis Trail Added to Beer Guide — A guide intended to show D.C. area cyclists where they can grab craft brews near local trails has added Arlington’s Custis Trail to its directory. [Bikeable Brews]

A-SPAN To Help Meet Homeless Goals — Arlington County has signed on to a pair of ambitious goals: to house all homeless veterans in the community by the end of 2015 and end chronic homelessness by 2016. The Arlington Street People’s Network, the nonprofit organization that will be running Arlington’s soon-to-open year-round homeless shelter, is preparing to do its part to help achieve those goals. [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Rainy day (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Daycare Owner Sorry for Leaving Child Outside — An Arlington home daycare owner says she’s sorry for leaving a three-year-old girl outside in the rain and cold without a jacket or shoes. Police were called to the home after neighbors say they heard the girl crying and trying to get back in the home. [WJLA]

Arlington Teacher Surprised by Award — Barrett Elementary School teacher Joshua McLaughlin was surprised Tuesday afternoon when he was presented the Virginia Lottery Super Teacher Award during a school-wide assembly. McLaughlin is one of eight teachers to win the award along with a $2,000 cash prize and $2,000 classroom supply credit. [Arlington Public Schools]

A-SPAN Making Progress on 100 Homes Initiative — The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network continues to make progress on its 100 Homes initiative. So far A-SPAN has placed 87 formerly homeless individuals into housing, including 12 chronically homeless veterans. [Falls Church News-Press]

Westover Farmers Market Starts Summer Hours — The Westover Farmers Market will begin its summer hours on Sunday, May 4. The market will be open an hour earlier than the winter market, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. [Westover Farmers Market]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

Sunset on 11/6/13 as seen from Pentagon City

County Seeks “Great Design” Nominations — Arlington County’s is accepting submissions for great design in new construction, renovations, additions or adaptive re-use projects. It’s part of the biennial design awards program, DESIGNArlington, which recognizes people who do design work that enhances the county’s built environment. Applications can be submitted online until 5:00 p.m. on December 2. An independent panel of architecture, urban design, historic preservation, public art and landscape design professionals will examine the nominations and select several winners. Previous winners include Northside Social, the Reed School/Westover Library, and the Gleason/Pries residence. [Arlington County]

Preservation Arlington Highlights Bruner Home — This week, Preservation Arlington looks at the Brumer house in its “Preserved and Developed” series. In 1934, Dr. Roland Bruner purchased the property at 2018 S. Glebe Road in the Nauck neigbhorhood. Only two black doctors had been practicing in Arlington at that time, so Brumer opened a private practice in his house to help serve the black community. He worked up until his death in 1978, and a historical marker now stands near his home. [Preservation Arlington]

Close Election Could Benefit VA DREAM Act — Fresh off a victory in Tuesday’s election, Del. Alfonso Lopez plans to make enactment of the DREAM Act his number one priority for the Virginia General Assembly session. It appears the narrow victories of Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe (D) and Del. Thomas Rust (R) may help the prospects for such legislation. Lopez and Rust had combined similar pieces of legislation last year that made it through the House Committee on Education on a 17-4 vote, but stalled because the House Appropriations Committee did not act on the measure before the session ended. If the bill makes it to McAuliffe, he is expected to sign it into law. [Sun Gazette]

Rosslyn BID Collects and Donates Marine Corps Marathon Clothing — The Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID) collected and redistributed 968 pounds of clothes to the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN). The clothes were items such as hats, gloves, sweatshirts and pants that runners shed while passing through Rosslyn during the Marine Corps Marathon on October 27. The BID had the clothing cleaned and gave it to A-SPAN to distribute to people in need.

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Morning Notes

The Capitol and the Washington monument at sunrise, as seen from the top of a Ballston apartment building. FedEx Field and a Six Flags roller coaster are visible in the background. (Photo courtesy Andrew Clegg)

Monument Lights to Be Turned Off — The decorative scaffolding lights on the Washington Monument will be turned off today, as repairs on the monument wrap up and the scaffolding is prepared for being taken down. [Washington Post]

Georgetown Scraps Satellite Dorm Plan — A plan that might have resulted in Georgetown University students being housed in Clarendon has been scrapped due to overwhelming opposition from students. The university will instead find a way to house more students on campus. [The Hoya]

Winter Coat Drive in Rosslyn — The Rosslyn Business Improvement District is collecting coats and other outerwear starting today. The donations will benefit the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network. [Sun Gazette]

Free Flu Shots Tomorrow — Arlington County will be giving out free flu shots as part of a “public health emergency preparedness exercise” on Tuesday. The shots will be distributed between 7:00 and 11:00 a.m. at the Washington-Lee High School cafeteria. [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Andrew Clegg

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Homeless Census Today, Shelter Use Increases

Homeless man on a bench outside Arlington Central LibraryVolunteers and staff from Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN) are canvassing the county today for the annual census of homeless people.

The local Point-in-Time Count is part of a nationwide count that occurs during the last 10 days in January each year. The census helps to highlight trends, justify requests for federal funding and measure community progress towards preventing and ending homelessness.

Last year, the Point-in-Time count of both sheltered and unsheltered homeless people dropped to 451. That’s down two percent from 461 in 2011.

“In this ‘great recession,’ the number of homeless people in Arlington has actually been trending downward for the last three years,” said A-SPAN Executive Director Kathleen Sibert. “Arlington non-profits and the county have done a great job of connecting people with housing; and we hope this year’s count will be even lower now that the 100 Homes Campaign has already housed 47 homeless adults.”

From 6:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. todady, census teams will visit areas frequented by homeless individuals such as Metro stations, parks, malls and meal serving sites. Additionally, there are six indoor meeting places used for the count, and meals are served to encourage participation. Staff members will also distribute hygiene kits and socks donated by Marymount Women’s Basketball team.

“Survey questions go beyond headcounts and ask about instances of domestic abuse, veteran status, and disabilities in order to learn more about the specific homeless population in Arlington and what resources are needed,” said Sibert.

The annual report for Arlington’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness was presented to the County Board yesterday (Tuesday). It showed that 708 individuals used Arlington homeless shelters at some time in 2012, which is a six percent increase over 2011. However, the average length of time a person stayed in shelter decreased by 28 percent. The average stay for homeless families showed the most significant improvement, dropping from an average stay of 5.4 months to three months.

“The goal of the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness is that no individual or family lack access to decent, affordable housing,” said County Board Chairman Walter Tejada. “That is a tall order in these troubled economic times, but this report, the progress we are making in housing Arlington’s most-at-risk homeless persons who were identified last year, and the County’s many programs aimed at getting those in need into housing shows that we intend to meet that goal.”

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Morning Notes

Arlington Small Business Saturday — This holiday weekend, in addition to today’s traditional Black Friday shopping bonanza, Arlington residents will be able to participate in “Arlington Small Business Saturday.” The day encourages Arlingtonians to shop and dine at small, local businesses this weekend. “Your favorite retail, dining and online small businesses are participating and providing discounts or incentives on a variety of products and services,” according to organizers.

Retirement Ceremony for Therapy Dog — Bailey, a therapy dog at the Capital Hospice Halquist Center near Virginia Hospital Center, is retiring after 10 years of service to those who have life-limiting illnesses. A private retirement ceremony will be held for Bailey, a golden retriever, at the hospice center on Monday night. “Cider, special Goldrush brownies and dog treats will be served,” according to an online invitation.

Library Recovers from Database Crash — The electronic catalog and accounts system for Arlington Public Library and Arlington Public Schools is back up and running after crashing last Friday. “We are very pleased to report that our system is back online, along with research databases, and that most if not all data feared lost has been recovered and restored,” the library said on its web site. “Your privacy was never compromised. We are taking steps to prevent such an outage from happening again.” [Arlington Public Library]

Homeless Navy Vet Gets Apartment — Ernest Maas, a 61-year-old Navy veteran, is giving thanks this Thanksgiving weekend for the roof over his head. Maas got the keys to a new apartment in Arlington on Wednesday after spending the past three years homeless and living in the woods around Four Mile Run. The new apartment was coordinated by the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network. [WJLA]

Arlington Hotels: Tax Us, Please — The Hotel General Managers’ Committee of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and the Arlington Tourism Coalition are hoping to lobby the Virginia General Assembly to reinstate the county’s hotel tax surcharge. The 0.25 percent tax on hotel rooms in Arlington generated nearly $1 million per year that went to tourism promotion efforts. State lawmakers declined to renew the tax last year in retaliation for Arlington’s fight against HOT lanes on I-395. [Sun Gazette]

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Arlington Gets Praise In First Year Of ‘100 Homes’ Campaign

Earlier this month, the 2012 National Conference on Ending Homelessness recognized Arlington County as one of 15 communities nationwide that are “on track” to end homelessness among the medically vulnerable within four years.

The claim is based on a benchmark set by the National Alliance to End Homelessness — cities or counties that moved 2.5 percent of their chronically ill homeless population into permanent housing each month made the list.

Arlington’s “100 Homes” campaign, a partnership with the nonprofit A-SPAN, put about 30 homeless people with life-threatening medical issues into permanent, federally-funded supported housing since starting up last October.

“It does actually cost the community a lot more to leave them homeless,” said A-SPAN Director of Development Jan-Michael Sacharko. “If you can keep people out of the emergency room, out of shelters, out of jails, you save a lot more money.”

The initiative, an outgrowth of the national “100,000 Homes” campaign, was cost-free, Department of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick said.

And it rallied significant volunteer support. About 180 volunteers went out at 4 a.m. for three days last fall to survey the homeless and check for those with hypothermia, chronic kidney disease, AIDS, HIV or other diseases.

“We’ve always had data on people who were homeless in Arlington,” Larrick said. “This was the most specific.”

Larrick said the survey found 113 “extremely vulnerable” homeless people. The 30 who moved into permanent housing did so with existing county and federal housing programs. Many are clients of A-SPAN, which provides individual case managers to track progress.

As of Arlington’s last count, which came in January, there are 451 homeless people on the streets and in homeless shelters, Larrick said.

Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief

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