It’s Officially Summer — “The 2022 summer solstice arrives at 5:14 a.m. Eastern time. At this precise moment the sun appears directly over the Tropic of Cancer — as far north as it appears in the sky all year. Around the solstice, the sun’s northward movement in the sky appears to pause briefly before reversing direction for the next six months.” [Capital Weather Gang]
Gulf Branch Project Meeting Tomorrow — Updated at 9:00 a.m. — “Gulf Branch project engagement resumes with a June 2022 community meeting. The design phase for the Gulf Branch Stream Project began in 2019. It was put on hold in March 2020 due to budgetary uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but is moving forward again. We have some project updates to share and will hold a virtual community meeting on Wednesday, June 22 at 6:30 PM.” [Arlington County]
I-395 Drivers Still Not Taking the Hint — From Dave Statter: “The 8C barrels are much like Rodney Dangerfield — just not as funny. [Video taken] today just after 9:30 a.m.” [Twitter]
Local Swim League Update — “With a lopsided 270-150 victory over the visiting Langley Wildthings, the Overlee Flying Fish of Division 1 were the lone winning team from Arlington in the opening week of the Northern Virginia Swimming League’s 2022 outdoor summer season in June 18 action.” [Sun Gazette]
Amazon HQ2 Leader Retires — “Ardine Williams, the Amazon.com Inc. executive overseeing hiring for the company’s HQ2 operations, has retired. According to Virginia Business, Williams retired sometime in the past few weeks and a replacement has not been named.” [Washington Business Journal]
New Leader for Local Homeless Org — ‘Fraser Murdoch, who brings extensive social-safety-net and non-profit experience with him, has been tapped as new CEO of Arlington-based Bridges to Independence.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 82 and low of 68. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:38 pm. [Weather.gov]
Local nonprofit PathForward has helped an Arlington man who has experienced homelessness for more than 15 years finally find a place to call his own.
Earlier this month, the organization tweeted that it was able to find a new home for Barry Oliver, who was often seen in the Ballston, Virginia Square and Clarendon neighborhoods. He moved into a subsidized apartment in Arlington the prior week.
GOOD NEWS FOR A CHANGE: Barry Oliver is settling into his own apartment after living on the streets of Arlington, Virginia for 15 years. Two women — Kasia and Gabrielle from PathForward — worked tirelessly to provide him with a home and medical care. #homelessness #Arlington pic.twitter.com/57Bu9Regh8
— PathForward (@PathForwardVA) March 2, 2022
“It probably was the happiest and most rewarding [experience] I’ve had in a long time,” PathForward Senior Director of Medical Services Kasia Shaw tells ARLnow.
She had helped Oliver with his medical needs as well as finding a home. “To be part of that transformation and change Mr. Oliver’s life was just so great.”
Oliver had experienced homelessness for nearly 17 years due to a myriad of medical, health and professional challenges, including back problems, job loss and having his only mode of transportation — his moped — stolen several times.
In a video produced by PathForward last month, Oliver describes how a feeling of hopelessness can be pervasive after such a long period of time.
“After that length of time, you no longer think that something is going to happen,” he says. “Because nothing has happened in 17 years to change your situation…I figured I would be homeless forever… PathForward has absolutely saved my life. Absolutely.”
In December 2019, he walked into PathForward’s facilities (then called A-SPAN) on 14th St N. in Courthouse in obvious pain and had trouble walking. After a number of examinations, it was discovered that he had several herniated discs that would end up requiring two surgeries.
When Shaw first met him, it was clear that Oliver needed help. But he was reluctant to accept it, which isn’t unusual for those who experience homelessness.
“If all of a sudden you lose your housing for whatever reason, it’s a very traumatic experience. And so when people try to help you, you might be weary like, ‘Do I really trust you?,'” says Shaw. “Trust is a big, big component of it.”
After his second surgery in January 2022, Shaw and his case manager Gabrielle Goodson worked to find housing for him that met his needs.
It can be difficult and “time consuming,” says Shaw, to find an appropriate place to live for someone who has experienced homelessness for a long period of time.
Sometimes, they are missing needed paperwork and identification. Apartments usually require a source of income to sign a lease, which is a challenge for some. There are also accessibility and health considerations.
While there are buildings that the organization regularly works with and even owns, Oliver ended up in an Arlington building that the organization hadn’t worked with before.
A week later, Shaw says that Oliver is getting set up nicely in his new home, with donated furniture along with household items that he’s bought himself.
This past July, Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN) rebranded as PathForward with a continuing philosophy that housing is a path forward for folks. Funding mainly comes from grants, contributions, and contracted services with the county.
The organization says that they find housing for 25 to 30 people a year, but there’s a real concern the need will continue to go up in Arlington, says Shaw.
With new developments and luxury apartments consistently being built in the county, longtime residents are being priced out of housing.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” says Shaw. “What we’re finding is a lot of elderly homeless who have a lot of medical needs.”
PathForward was able to find housing for Oliver. Shaw gets a bit emotional thinking about something he said to her recently.
“He said… ‘You are the only health care professional that I trust,'” says Shaw. “That’s huge and really means a lot. It reaffirms why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
Arlington Traffic Still Way Down — “New numbers provided to 7News by the Virginia Dept. of Transportation (VDOT) show… weekday traffic in Arlington County in June 2021 was still down 26% versus June 2019. But that was an outlier – in Fairfax County traffic was only down 12%, Loudoun County just 8%, and Prince William County was basically back to normal, falling just 3% versus June 2019.” [WJLA]
A-SPAN Rebrands — “What began life three decades ago as the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, or A-SPAN, has assumed a new identity: PathForward… ‘We came to the conclusion that we needed a new name to match all that we do,’ the organization’s board chair, Tim Denning, said.” [Sun Gazette]
Route 1 Makes NYT List — “The New York Times this May compiled a list of ’50s-era American highways being re-thought in an age when environmental concerns and past racial injustices in land use are at the national forefront. Arlington’s section of Route 1, that elevated structure that pierces Crystal City, made the cut.” [Falls Church News-Press]
AWLA Reunites Raccoon Mom and Baby — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “Officer Elpers got some amazing footage of this mama raccoon reuniting with her baby this morning.” [Facebook]
Local NAACP Awards Scholarships — “The Arlington branch of the NAACP recently awarded nearly $60,000 in college scholarships to Arlington high-school students.” [Sun Gazette]
Big Donation to VHC — “Virginia Hospital Center (VHC), a community-based hospital providing medical services to the Washington, DC metropolitan area for 75 years, has received a transformative gift of $5 million from long-time donor Lola C. Reinsch to promote the Hospital’s campus expansion efforts.” [Press Release]
Darby Family Visits ACFD Station — “Ashley Darby is having plenty of family fun with her kids this summer. The Real Housewives of Potomac cast member [and Arlington resident] recently took to Instagram to capture their latest outing that left her two-year-old son, Dean, completely ‘lost for words’… ‘What a fun time we had at the Arlington County Fire Station 4 with our friends!’ she wrote in the caption.” [Bravo]
Lee Highway Planning Update — “Arlington county staff have produced different future land use scenarios for five sections, or neighborhood areas, of the [Lee Highway] corridor. These scenarios offer different visions for the route that note anticipated intensity and uses of land as well as potential future transportation and public space improvements. Ultimately, the initiative will culminate in an area plan that will guide future development along the corridor over the next 30 years.” [GGWash]
Postal Flexibility for Route 29 — “To borrow from a phrase of Barack Obama: If you like your Lee Highway address, you can keep your Lee Highway address. Arlington County officials say they do not expect the pending renaming of the 5.2-mile stretch of U.S. Route 29 in the county to impact delivery of mail addressed to the old ‘Lee Highway’ address when the roadway becomes ‘Langston Boulevard.'” [InsideNova]
Blood Drive in Courthouse Today — “Fire Works American Pizzeria and Bar… is working with INOVA Blood Donor Services to host an Arlington Community Blood Drive with an INOVA Bloodmobile, which will be located near the intersection of Clarendon Boulevard and North Adams Street, on Monday, June 21, 2021, from 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.” [Press Release]
A-SPAN Buys Westover Apartments — “This eight-unit apartment building, originally built in the 1940s for Pentagon workers, looks modest. But it’s the centerpiece of an ambitious pilot program from the Arlington-based non-profit A-SPAN. ‘This is for people who have too many housing barriers, [meaning] felonies, no credit, no rental history, immigration status,’ says A-SPAN’s director of development Scott Miller.” [DCist]
Police Pride Event at Freddie’s — “In recognition of Pride Month and the significant contributions of Arlington’s LGBTQ+ communities, the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) will host Pride with the Police… on Friday, June 25.” [Arlington County]
Last Week: Protest Outside Boeing HQ — “Supporters of Palestine demonstrate outside of Boeing’s office building in Crystal City, 6/16/21.” [Instagram]
Trump Official Trying to Sell D.C. Condo — “The condo was then taken off the market, and re-listed in April at the same price. In mid-May, the listing was withdrawn for a second time, and it remains off the market. [Stephen] Miller, meanwhile, has reportedly moved to Arlington with his wife, Katie Miller, another former Trump administration official.” [Washingtonian]
Reminder: This Week’s Arlies Vote — There’s one day left to vote for your favorite Arlington food truck. [ARLnow]
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.
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]
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]
(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.
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]
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).
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
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.
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.