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Morning Notes

Construction site in Rosslyn (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Expanding Board Would Require State Action — “The Civic Federation’s TiGER (Task Force in Governance and Election Reform] body has recommended a number of changes to Arlington’s governance structure, including changing the election cycle. But the most basic tenet – increasing from five to seven the number of County Board members – could determine whether the Republican governor and House of Delegates want to play nice.” [Sun Gazette]

Serious Crash on I-395 — From Dave Statter: “Serious crash with one ejected on I-395S at Arlington Ridge Road. Fire, EMS & police appeared to be looking to make sure no else was thrown from the vehicle.” [Twitter]

Narcan Now Available at Arlington Libraries — “Starting this month, NARCAN nasal spray has been added to opioid overdose emergency boxes in all seven Arlington Public Library branches as part of the Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative. The boxes are in public access points near the Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) at most branches; at Aurora Hills and Glencarlyn, the boxes are in prominent places where employees can easily access them.” [Arlington County]

Cobbler Hoofing It Out of Town — “Sad to report that Best Foot Forward will move out of ⁦@PentagonRow⁩ at the end of June. Lease expires. They are relocating to Bradlee Shopping Center in Alexandria, about 5 miles from PRow. Good quality work + family-owned/operated.” [Twitter]

Doorways Partners with Doorbell Company — “A new initiative to provide enhanced safety tools to survivors of violence has been announced by Doorways. In partnership with Ring, Doorways – a social-safety-net agency in Arlington and Falls Church – will be distributing up to 1,000 video doorbells and security cameras to clients, along with a free subscription plan for the life of each device. In addition, Ring will also provide a monetary contribution to help amplify Doorways’ impact for survivors across the local areas.” [Sun Gazette]

Spotted in Venice — “The Gondola Now shirt has gone international.” [Twitter]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 79 and low of 61. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:35 pm. [Weather.gov]

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ACPD officers at a previous Fill the Cruiser event (Photo via Arlington County Police Department)

The Arlington County Police Department is holding its third annual “Fill the Cruiser” drive later this week.

On Friday (May 20) from 4-6 p.m., police cruisers will be stationed at the Giant store on 2901 S. Glebe Road in Long Branch Creek and at the Lee Harrison Shopping Center on 5335 Langston Blvd to collect non-perishable food items and diapers of all sizes.

Those items will be donated to local nonprofits Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) and Doorways.

While the cruisers and AFAC will accept most unopened, unexpired, and unprepared foods, including some perishable items, the organization is most in need of food that’s low in sodium, fat, and sugar.

Items like:

  • Low sodium canned tomatoes
  • Low sodium canned tuna
  • Low sodium canned soups
  • Canned vegetables
  • Peanut butter (in plastic jars)
  • Low sugar cereal
  • Cooking oils

The hope is still to collect “a couple thousand pounds of food,’ says AFAC’s Associate Director of Communications Jeremiah Huston, with Arlington residents still very much in need.

When a “Fill the Cruiser” food drive took place earlier in the pandemic in 2020, the number of Arlington families in need of food assistance was record-breakingly high. That year, AFAC was serving upwards of 3,400 families a month.

AFAC is still serving more than 3,000 families every month, 80% of whom rely on free grocery every week, notes Huston.

“We’re not far from the record high numbers we saw in 2020 and we expect the number of families served will continue to rise steadily as it has since the start of the new year,” Huston tells ARLnow. “With the increase in gas and food prices, we have seen many of our families accessing AFAC services more frequently. Those already struggling to pay their bills are the ones hit hardest by inflation and supply chain shortages.”

Huston also said that inflation and high food prices are impacting AFAC’s ability to purchase fresh foods, so donations are needed now as much or more than prior years.

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A chart of the number of people experiencing homelessness in Arlington (via Arlington County)

What can we do to help those in our community who are experiencing homelessness is a question Triina Van gets a lot.

Van has been Homeless Services Coordinator at Arlington County’s Department of Human Services for about a year and a half. But she has more than two decades of experience working in the field and thinking about this very question.

It’s a difficult one to answer, she says, because the issue of homelessness is “an incredibly complex one.”

ARLnow spoke with Van about how people can help, common misconceptions about those experiencing homelessness, and where people can turn if they need help.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

What are some of the most common reasons that people in our community experience homelessness? 

I’d attribute that to a lot of different reasons. It’s compounded by issues of lack of affordable housing, rents increasing during lease renewals, and challenges associated with not having incomes that can really sustain the cost of living in our community. It can also certainly be compounded by mental health challenges and family violence. There’s also the much deeper systemic roots… woven into our systems with the historical context of our housing policies and how this country has been stood up.

They all contribute to housing loss, housing instability and homelessness.

You noted two different terms there — housing instability and homelessness — what’s the difference?

Yeah, generally when we speak about housing instability, we’re talking about folks who are at risk of experiencing homelessness. That could mean they are contributing over 30%, 40% of their monthly income to rent. Maybe they’re doubled up, living with other families and households to try to make ends meet.

When I’m speaking about homelessness, I’m really talking about people who are sleeping outside, sleeping in emergency shelters.

I think housing instability is a less visible challenge. Arlington is not alone, it’s a nationwide crisis. When they are challenged with this, people often turn to their networks of support like family, friends, congregations, and other communities of faith for assistance.

Man sleeping on a bench outside Arlington Central Library (file photo)

When people are facing house instability or are experiencing homelessness and need help beyond these networks, where can they turn? 

If someone is experiencing homelessness or if you know someone who’s experiencing homelessness, you can call what we call the “1010 line” — that’s 703-228-1010. That’s our main shelter line and can reach someone 24/7, 365 days a year. It’s operated by the Community Assistance Bureau during normal business hours, but we also know homelessness can happen any time of the day. So, it’s also staffed by one of three shelter providers in Arlington who rotate that coverage throughout the non-business hours, overnight, and weekends.

That’s an immediate first step folks can take.

So, what happens after that first phone call?

Staff will complete an assessment to understand the different circumstances people are facing. They’ll look for creative solutions that can help people stay in their housing or find another option that prevents them from entering the homelessness system.

Sometimes, that could be providing temporary financial assistance or maybe negotiation with a landlord to try to prevent an eviction from happening. It could also be more long-term assistance depending on the personal family’s needs. It could also be helping find a new apartment. And, sometimes, people just need a security deposit or first month’s rent.

If the staff can’t assist directly, they have a deep knowledge of other community resources and can help people connect to other options.

Read More

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Morning Notes

Looking up while underneath cherry blossoms on Wilson Blvd in Virginia Square as storm clouds move in (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Little League Opening Day This Weekend — “For the first time since 2019, Arlington Little League will host its Opening Day on Sun, April 3 from 1-5:30 p.m. at Barcroft Park.” [Press Release]

Arlington Libraries Highlight Banned Books — “The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom  recently issued a statement opposing widespread efforts to censor books in U.S. schools and libraries. Unfortunately, Virginia has been subject to these censorship efforts, and in light of this, Arlington Public Library is taking a stand to build awareness of these challenged books.” [Arlington Public Library]

AHC Announces New Leader — From a press release: “AHC Inc.’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Paul Bernard has been unanimously selected as the organization’s new President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He will join AHC in his new role on April 4.” Bernard fills a CEO seat at the affordable housing provided previously held by Walter Webdale, who retired after controversy over conditions at AHC’s Serrano Apartments. [AHC Inc.]

W-L Holding ‘Pink Games’ This Month — “W-L girls’ soccer is turning PINK for Doorways! Join the players in supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence as well as families and youth experiencing homelessness.” [Doorways]

It’s April Fool’s Day — Mostly cloudy throughout the day today, April 1. Breezy, with a west wind 14 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 34 mph. High of 65 and low of 43. Sunrise at 6:54 am and sunset at 7:33 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Rent Falling in Arlington — “The median rental price in Arlington for a two-bedroom apartment of $2,032 at the end of the year was down 14.8 percent from March, when the pandemic hit, according to the analysis. Arlington is among of 12 major urban communities that have seen rents fall by more than 10 percent since COVID’s arrival.” [InsideNova, WTOP]

Hotel Guest Arrested for Punching Cop — “Hotel management requested police stand by while they removed individuals from a room for violation of hotel policies. Management advised the guests they would need to leave, and while two of the occupants began to collect their belongings, an argument ensued between them. The dispute continued outside of the room and began to escalate, at which point officers separated the parties. The suspect then allegedly threw an unknown object into the elevator and rushed towards an officer, striking them with a closed fist.” [ACPD]

Compass Apologizes for Rogue Social Post — D.C.-based cafe chain Compass Coffee is apologizing for posting a screenshot of a tweet that said “Republicans are not our countrymen. They are terrorists…” on its Instagram account. “Sorry about this!” Compass said about the post. “Absolutely not what we believe or in line with our values. Currently investigating what / who posted this.” [Twitter]

Bishop Reflects on Capitol Riot — Writes Diocese of Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge: “The mutual respect we must have for law and order was disregarded. Rather than being treated with respect for the inherently noble work with which they are entrusted, police officers and federal agents in and around the Capitol buildings were, in many cases, attacked, injured and harassed in the line of duty. We should all thank them for their courage and service.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]

Local Nonprofit Has New Leader — “Diana Ortiz, who has more than two decades in the social-safety-net world, has been tapped as president of Doorways, the non-profit safety-net provider. She succeeds Caroline Jones, who departed earlier this year to take a post with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.” [InsideNova]

Beyer Staffer Tapped for White House Role — “Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) today congratulated his departing Chief of Staff, Tanya Bradsher, who was appointed by President-elect Joe Biden to serve as Senior Director for Partnerships and Global Engagement on the National Security Council… Beyer announced that his Acting Chief of Staff Zach Cafritz, who had previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director, would take over as Chief of Staff.” [Press Release]

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Morning Notes

Stolen Car Leads to Arrests — Several people were arrested after fleeing a reported stolen car on foot in the Green Valley neighborhood Monday afternoon. At least one of those arrested was a juvenile, according to scanner traffic. [Twitter]

Group Lists Properties Set for Demolition — “Demolition permits for a total of 159 homes, plus a number of other properties, were approved by the Arlington County government in 2019, according to an analysis by Preservation Arlington… In addition to homes, three garden apartments, 11 commercial buildings, two civic buildings and several other structures also were being readied for razing.” [InsideNova]

Doorways CEO Departing — “Doorways announced today that the agency’s President and CEO, Caroline Jones, MSW, will be leaving the organization in February. Since 1978, Doorways has operated at the many intersections of homelessness, poverty, and intimate partner violence, responding to community members in crisis.” [Press Release]

ARLnow Needs You — Help ARLnow set the direction for our news coverage and offerings in 2020 by taking this quick 10-question survey. So far, the average survey-taker has spent about 3 minutes answering the questions. [SurveyMonkey]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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(Updated at 9:40 a.m.) Good Sweat, an indoor cycling studio, is set to open in Rosslyn’s Colonial Village Shopping Center in early 2019.

Alessandra Hashemi, the founder of Good Sweat, told ARLnow that she is aiming for a March opening.

More than 180 people helped Good Sweat raise roughly $26,000 in 21 days, surpassing the studio’s goal of $25,000 in 25 days, the company posted on Facebook on Oct. 21. The money will fund the opening next year at 1711 Wilson Blvd.

A portion of the money from the campaign was donated to Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network to sponsor its “Sixth Annual Happy Hour Benefiting Veterans” on Nov. 7, Hashemi said.

The studio plans to have metered bike and offer classes in the mornings throughout the week and in the evenings on weekdays, according to a brochure sent to ARLnow.

“I have been indoor cycling for over 10 years, and I have seen it all (the good, the bad, the underwhelming),” Hashemi, said in the brochure. “Indoor cycling classes can be cathartic if you have amazing coaches, music and motivation.”

The brochure says that a percentage of every purchase will get invested in the community by hosting subsidized rides for low-income individuals and donating to a different local nonprofit every month, including Urban Alliance, A-SPAN Doorways for Women and Families and Arlington Food Assistance Center.

Good Sweat held two pop-up events earlier this year — a yin yoga class in February and a body weight boot camp in August.

The studio is currently selling discounted packages, some of which include pre-opening access, ranging from one drop-in class to unlimited access for three months.

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Morning Notes

Fisette Has To-Do List for Final Months — Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette has a number of items left on his to-do list as he nears retirement from the Board at the end of the year. Among the items with some momentum is a plan to name the county government headquarters after long-serving Board member Ellen Bozman. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Purple Ribbons on ACPD Cruisers — “During the month of October a purple ribbon, donated by [local nonprofit Doorways for Women and Families], will be displayed on many Arlington County Police Department vehicles in support of the efforts to reduce the incidence and severity of domestic violence in our community.” [Arlington County]

Beyer Gets Press for Security Clearance Letter — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is getting some national media attention for his continued push — alongside Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) — for the Trump administration to revoke the security clearances of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. [CNN]

History of Sushi Zen — Sushi Zen, a Japanese restaurant on N. Harrison Street, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year by holding 20 fundraisers for local nonprofits. But the path to success for the sushi spot was bumpy. The family-owned restaurant struggled in its early years and enlisted the help of Georgetown MBA students to help turn things around. [Connection Newspapers]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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(Updated at 6:10 p.m.) The Arlington Chapter of the National Organization for Women will host a charity indoor bike ride later this month to raise money for local nonprofit Doorways for Women and Families.

The 50-minute ride takes place from 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 23 at Cyclebar, an indoor cycling center at 3400 Columbia Pike. Online reservations are required.

For a $25 donation, participants receive a 50-minute spin class accompanied by a “Girl Power” playlist, as well as cycling shoes, a towel and a water bottle. The local NOW chapter is also asking for song suggestions for its ride playlist.

The event will raise money for Doorways, which works to transform the lives of those who are homeless or face abuse in the community.

Since its founding in 1966, NOW looks to take action to “promote feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.” NOW’s national organization describes itself as a nonprofit that is the “grassroots arm of the women’s movement.”

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Five Arlington restaurants are partnering with local nonprofit Doorways for Women and Families to raise awareness of sexual assault and help available for victims.

Starting tonight, Liberty Tavern, Lyon Hall, Northside Social and O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Clarendon and the Crystal City Sports Pub in Crystal City will provide customers with coasters that feature Doorways’ 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline (703-237-0881) and the message, “Sexual assault impacts everyone.”

The weekend campaign coincides with the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“Our goal with this outreach is twofold,” said Doorways president and CEO Caroline Jones in a statement. “First and foremost, we want to show survivors that they’re not alone. Secondly, we want to ensure that everyone is aware of the resources here in Arlington, namely our 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline — help is available in our community.”

Last year, 187 adults and 40 children were served by Doorways’ hotline response as a direct result of sexual assault.

According to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds, and 54 percent of sexual assault victims are between the ages of 18 and 34.

Other services offered by Doorways include hospital accompaniment, counseling and court advocacy, which provides education about the legal system, companionship during the petition and court hearing processes and extensive safety planning for anyone impacted by family violence.

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The Celtic HouseDevelopment, affordable housing, school crowding, Metro’s woes. Those are just a few of the local issues we’ll discuss during ARLnow Presents: Hot Topics on the Pike on Wednesday, April 27.

The event is taking place at Celtic House, at 2500 Columbia Pike, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

(Feel free to take advantage of the $5 Wednesday wing special or stick around afterward for Celtic House’s weekly trivia night at 8:30.)

The first half of the event will be a debate among our opinion columnists — Mark Kelly (The Right Note), Peter Rousselot (Peter’s Take) and Lawrence Roberts (Progressive Voice) — on countywide issues.

Next up is a discussion of the future of Columbia Pike. It’s been more than a year since the cancellation of the streetcar, yet development has continued on the Pike seemingly unabated. So what does the future hold for the corridor? Among those joining us for the conversation are County Board member Katie Cristol and Arlington Transportation Committee Chair Chris Slatt.

Doorways for Women and Families logoRSVP is required — tickets are only $5 online.

April is Sexual Violence Awareness Month. All of ARLnow’s proceeds from the event will be donated Doorways for Women and Families, an Arlington-based nonprofit that creates pathways out of homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault.

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