Local nonprofits and the Arlington County government have received $3 million in federal funding to address homelessness.
Nearly $200,000 will go to two new programs from the organizations Doorways and PathForward, formerly A-SPAN. The rest — save for about $81,000 for the county — will support existing programs provided by Bridges to Independence, Doorways, New Hope Housing and PathForward.
“This HUD funding helps ensure survivors of intimate partner violence have access to housing and additional pathways out of shelter, so that they can find healing, harbor, and hope for a brighter future,” Doorways President and CEO Diana Ortiz told ARLnow in a statement.
To date this year, Arlington has received $4.2 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to combat homelessness.
“HUD funding is a vital part of Arlington’s efforts to prevent and end homelessness,” said Arlington County’s Department of Human Services Director Anita Friedman in a statement.
“This announcement confirms that our strategic planning, policy development, and service delivery are effective and that we are changing lives for individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless,” she continued.
The county delivers these services in a partnership with local nonprofits called the Arlington County Continuum of Care (CoC). For more than a decade, the CoC has worked to improve the county’s response to homelessness by focusing on providing permanent housing, working with 1,070 people in 2022, per the county.
Nonprofits receiving this money will use it in one of two ways. The first, called “rapid rehousing,” places people living on the street or in an emergency shelter in existing, empty affordable apartment units. The second, called “permanent supportive housing,” combines housing with services such as health care and employment help.
The funding breaks down as follows:
- Doorways: $127,398 for a new rapid rehousing program
- PathForward: $1.85 million for four existing programs and $68,116 for a new permanent supportive housing program
- New Hope Housing: $586,269 for three existing programs
- Bridges to Independence: $289,419 for an existing rapid rehousing program
“HUD grant funding supports a broad array of interventions designed to assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness, particularly those living in places not meant for habitation, located in sheltering programs, or at imminent risk of becoming homeless,” per a county press release. “Because grants are competitive, localities must demonstrate need as well as an ability to address those needs.”
Arlington has demonstrated that ability in the past, when, in 2015, it functionally ended homelessness for veterans, according to a presentation on the county’s efforts.
That does not mean Arlington literally eradicated homelessness for former service members, however.
Rather, it means that the number of actively homeless veterans is less than or equal to the average monthly rate at which individuals and families find and move into stable housing, per the presentation. This is known as “functional zero.”
Arlington aims to reach functional zero for all populations experiencing homelessness by 2026, which would mean seven or fewer single adults and three or fewer youth and families with children actively experiencing homelessness at one time.
To reach this goal, Arlington is partnering with Community Solutions, which is a nonprofit dedicated to ending homelessness, and updating its strategic plan. As part of that process, the county held listening sessions earlier this year to discuss how homelessness affects specific population groups and hear solutions from the community.
In the presentation, Community Solutions representative Elise Topazian said Arlington is on the right track. Over the last 12 years, the Continuum of Care reduced overall homelessness by 66%, including a 52% reduction in sheltered and 90% reduction in unsheltered homelessness.
“Arlington is on the brink [of] ending chronic homelessness,” Topazian said.
Arlington County has received a $1.2 million federal grant to move people experiencing homelessness into permanent or temporary apartment housing.
Approximately 55% of the grant will be for housing — mostly one- and two-bedroom affordable rental units — and the remainder “is for supportive services and staffing,” says Dept. of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick.
This project provides permanent housing in existing, but unoccupied, committed affordable units in Arlington to people either living outside or in one of the county’s four emergency shelters, operated by Bridges to Independence, Doorways, New Hope and PathForward.
In federal government speak, this is known as “rapid rehousing,” says Larrick.
It is part of Arlington County’s “housing first” approach — one in which people are housed without stipulations, says Adele McClure, a candidate for the second district of the House of Delegates, who has worked for many years in Arlington tackling homelessness after experiencing it herself in Fairfax County.
“It’s breaking down the barrier to housing,” she said. “I am a product of those stipulations growing up. When I was in transitional housing, we didn’t have ‘housing first’ model, it was really, really tough for our family. I am thankful Arlington and all of Virginia engages in that.”
The funds will also pay for master-lease agreements with nonprofits to move people into apartments temporarily before moving to permanent housing, Larrick said.
This grant has a three-year term. It is a new funding source and a new U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) project type for Arlington.
“But the work is not new to Arlington and will be a mix of non-congregate shelter and Rapid Rehousing services for people experiencing homelessness,” Larrick said. “Arlington has a long history of winning competitive HUD funding opportunities across a range of programming areas though.”
McClure says Arlington is well-positioned to address homelessness because of its “continuum of care” model that brings together nonprofits, affordable housing providers and public and private service providers to oversee everything from subsidy programs to street outreach.
The funding will help replace early Covid relief federal funding through the CARES Act, which is coming to an end, she noted.
The grant comes as the county is working on its next strategic plan to help households at risk of homelessness keep their housing and help homeless families quickly regain stable housing.
Arlington County adopted a 10-year plan in 2006. Data over the last decade show that during the out-years of the plan, the population of people living in shelters and outdoors dropped sharply. That rate of decline has since slowed and possibly plateaued.
“We started off really strong and we had that sharp decline, but once you get down to the lower numbers we have, we’re going to get down to the folks who are hardest to serve: those are the folks who don’t necessarily stay sheltered,” McClure said. “I know, here in Arlington, we are concerned about losing that momentum and progress.”
A three-year plan was adopted in 2018. The plan was extended due to Covid, but now, the county is reprising its planning. This round is focused on addressing inequities for people of color, immigrants and seniors.
“Arlington struggles with the availability of resources, funding and stock of affordable housing,” McClure said. “There are large and systemic root causes that perpetuate homelessness… Arlington is trying to address those systemic root causes.”
Interested community members can attend any of the following informational sessions.
- Understanding the Role of Racial Equity in Arlington’s Continuum of Care — Friday, Feb. 17 from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Arlingotn Central Library Auditorium (1015 N. Quincy Street)
- Domestic Violence & Homelessness — Saturday, Feb. 18 from 10 a.m. to noon at the DHS Lower Level Auditorium, Sequoia Plaza 1 (2100 Washington Blvd)
- Family Homelessness — Wednesday, Feb. 22 from 5-7 p.m. at the Central Library Auditorium
- Single Adults Experiencing Homelessness — Thursday, Feb. 23 from 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Central Library Auditorium
- Youth and Young Adult Homelessness — Monday, March 6 from 5-7 p.m. at the DHS Lower Level Auditorium
- Virtual Open Listening Session — Friday, March 10 from noon-2 p.m.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has secured $2.25 million in federal funding for stormwater infrastructure projects in Arlington.
The funding was part of a bipartisan omnibus government funding bill that passed the House of Representatives and the Senate last Thursday, three days before Christmas.
“I am proud to announce that bipartisan legislation which will soon pass into law includes funding I secured for worthy projects in Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, and Fairfax County,” Beyer said in a statement.
The omnibus appropriations bill helps pay for each of Beyer’s fifteen community project funding requests. Four requests were partially funded in Arlington.
It awards $750,000 for stormwater projects in the Gulf Branch watershed downstream of Military Road and in the Lower Long Branch Watershed along S. Walter Reed Drive. These will include a mix of “gray” infrastructure, such as culverts and storage tanks, and “green infrastructure,” or nature-based solutions.
“The Project will treat and store polluted stormwater runoff, reduce impervious coverage, and mitigate climate vulnerability,” the county said in its request, reprinted on Beyer’s website.
Another $1.5 million will fund rehabilitations of segments of two sanitary sewer interceptor pipes. Interceptor pipes “intercept” the flow from smaller pipes and funnel stormwater and sewage to a treatment plant.
The county requested $2 million to rehabilitate 5,876 linear feet of a 30-inch pipe that runs from Arlington Blvd to Sparrow Pond. The pond is slated to be rehabilitated next year. The pipe, constructed through the Four Mile Run stream valley in 1975, serves the East Falls Church neighborhood as well as parts of the City of Falls Church and Fairfax County.
The county also requested $1.68 million to rehabilitate a 2,906-foot section of a large but decrepit pipe in order to “support continued growth in the Rosslyn area.”
“The subject sewer was originally constructed in the 1930s,” the county said in its request. “It was most recently inspected in 2017 and many sections were deemed to require immediate rehabilitation due to structural deficiencies which allow for significant infiltration and inflow and could lead to structural failure.”
In his statement, Beyer thanked his fellow representatives for enacting the legislation and the local leaders who identified and developed the requests.
“This project funding will make our community healthier, support clean energy, boost our transportation infrastructure, support affordable housing, feed the hungry, and help improve law enforcement transparency,” he said.
Additionally, the omnibus appropriations bill included language to officially rename North Arlington Post Office after letter carrier Jesus Collazos, who emigrated from Colombia in 1978 and served 25 years as a USPS postal carrier in Arlington before losing his life to COVID-19 in June 2020.
Interest Rates Could Slow Development — “Arlington County leaders are preparing for a difficult economic environment for multifamily development, even as they say they’re optimistic about the region’s future… [I]f the Federal Reserve pushes the federal funds rate to 3.5% by year-end as it has targeted, that could have serious repercussions, said Shooshan Co. Chairman John Shooshan, speaking at Bisnow’s Future of Arlington County event on Thursday.” [Bisnow]
Talent Driving Local Tech Strength — “Northern Virginia has become a magnet for the industry, with the Dulles Technology Corridor continuing its growth along the Silver Line and Amazon HQ2 going up in Arlington… Taylor said the upcoming Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in Alexandria and George Mason’s Fuse at Mason Square in Arlington are two projects that will be pivotal to ‘churning out more talent.'” [Axios]
Funding for DCA Runway Reconstruction — “Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $5,958,173 in federal funding for two Virginia airports… [including] $1,750,000 for Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport in Arlington, VA for the reconstruction of a runway.” [Press Release]
Business Is Booming at Airport — “Concession sales are booming at Reagan National and Dulles International airports as travel continues to rebound from the early days of the Covid pandemic. Since the start of 2022, concessions sales have grown 241% at National and 143% at Dulles.” [Washington Business Journal]
‘CraigPokesU’ Manager Profiled — “Blake Williams has 14 dragon tattoos and 12 piercings. Some of his body art you can see — like the ‘third eye’ on his forehead, the ring in his nose and the letters that spell out ‘kindness’ on his knuckles — while others fall into the ‘that’s private’ category, he says. Williams, 47, is the head piercer and shop manager at CraigPokesU on Langston Boulevard, just up the street from Cowboy Cafe.” [Arlington Magazine]
Arlingtonian Helped to Shape Region — “Chuck Bean has spent 10 years leading the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments… Bean, who lives in Arlington, is unknown to many D.C.-area residents, but as liaison between COG’s 125 staffers and public officials representing 24 counties and cities, he has played a lead role in coordinating regional planning to improve transportation, combat climate change and encourage more housing construction.” [Washington Post]
Street Project Funded in F.C. –“he Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) approved a $22.5 million project funding request from the City on Thursday for transportation improvements on North Washington Street. The North Washington Street Multimodal Improvements Project includes sidewalk widening, improved intersection geometry, signal improvements, crosswalks, utility undergrounding, lighting, and landscaping, between Great Falls Street and Gresham Place.” [City of Falls Church]
It’s Friday — Clear throughout the day and hot. High of 92 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:02 am and sunset at 8:30 pm. [Weather.gov]
Lots of Rain from Wednesday Storms — Most parts of Arlington saw 2-3 inches of rain from Wednesday’s onslaught of storms and downpours, with one weather station in a southwestern portion of the county reporting 3.41 inches. [National Weather Service, Twitter]
No ‘Missing Middle’ Cost Analysis — “Staff leading the effort acknowledge there has been no cost-benefit analysis of exactly how such a major zoning change would impact the local government’s bottom line. Nor is there likely to be one. ‘We typically don’t do analysis of this nature. It’s hard to even capture all of that,’ said Richard Tucker, one of a number of county-government housing personnel dispatched to the June 14 meeting of the Arlington County Civic Federation to address an issue that is fast becoming the most contentious Arlington battle since the Columbia Pike streetcar fight of a decade ago.” [Sun Gazette]
Millions for Local Housing Nonprofits — “Two Arlington-based groups will receive a total of $7 million in federal funding to help provide affordable housing and services to low-income people, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia announced Thursday… Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing Inc. will receive $5 million from the fund and Arlington-based AHC Inc. will receive $2 million.” [Patch]
ACPD Pride Event Next Week — “In recognition of Pride Month and the significant contributions of Arlington’s LGBTQ+ communities, the Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) will host the 2nd Annual Pride with the Police… Pride with the Police will take place on: Wednesday, June 29, 20225 p.m. to 7 p.m. [at] Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant, located at 555 23rd Street S.” [ACPD]
F.C. Outranks Arlington for ‘Healthiest Community’ — “The City of Falls Church has been recognized as the second healthiest community in the country by U.S. News & World Report… The City earned an overall score of 98, and is the only community to receive a score of 100 in both education and population health.” Arlington ranked No. 13. [City of Falls Church, U.S. News & World Report]
It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 83 and low of 63. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]
Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler
Members of Congress from Virginia are pushing the federal government to help fund proposed changes to Route 1.
The changes, while still being hashed out by VDOT and local officials, would lower elevated portions of Route 1 through Crystal City to grade, turning it into a lower-speed “urban boulevard.” VDOT is also mulling at least one pedestrian bridge or tunnel at 18th Street S., near the Metro station, to improve safety.
With the first phase of Amazon’s HQ2 on track to open in Pentagon City in 2023, state and local officials see a need to turn the area — collectively known as National Landing — into a more cohesive downtown and economic center. Key to that vision is revamping Route 1, also known as Richmond Highway, which effectively separates Pentagon City from Crystal City.
At last check, cost estimates for the project were around $200 million.
Northern Virginia’s congressional delegation would like to see the feds foot much of the bill, through funding from the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill.
In a joint letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, the lawmakers say argue that the Route 1 project meets all criteria for funding through the infrastructure bill.
“This grant request will allow Virginia to convert the Route 1 corridor in Arlington into a multimodal urban boulevard that prioritizes pedestrian safety in a walkable environment,” the wrote. “VDOT is developing multimodal solutions for Route 1 to meet National Landing’s transportation needs with the coming of Amazon and other related developments.”
The letter was signed by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), along with Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Donald McEachin (D-Va.), Elaine Luria (D-Va.), and Robert Wittman (R-Va.).
“The Commonwealth’s commitment to Amazon is to improve safety, accessibility, and the pedestrian experience crossing Route 1,” the lawmakers wrote. “Investment in National Landing will produce significant, measurable benefits to the economy, health, and safety of local citizens… This project satisfies all the merit criteria outlined in the federal grant opportunity, especially the priorities of providing economic, state of good repair, environmental, and equity benefits.
The letter also argues for the project’s fiscal benefits, including reducing bridge maintenance costs and providing acres of additional land for development.
“The transformation of Route 1 to an urban boulevard includes the removal of three bridge structures from the VDOT inventory, which will reduce long term maintenance costs,” the letter said. “Modifications to the I-395 interchange will remove a structurally deficient bridge and avoid future replacement or rehabilitation costs, while also extending the urban boulevard to the north which will contribute to lower speeds.”
“[The project] increases the accessibility to job centers through the proposed access improvements, which will benefit residents of all income levels,” the letter continues. “The project will create approximately 6.5 acres of excess right-of-way resulting in high value developable land.”
Another hoped-for benefit: fewer cars and better safety features.
“It will reduce the need for single-occupancy vehicle trips in favor of environmentally friendly options such as enhanced transit service, walkability, biking routes,” said the letter. “The project also includes multiple innovative solutions, such as a progressive design-build strategy and a pilot safety project to implement near-miss crash technology in National Landing.”
The completion of VDOT’s Phase 2 study of the proposed changes is currently expected to wrap up in early 2023. While the project has general support from the county and the business community, some residents have expressed concerns about whether taking away overpasses in favor of at-grade crossings actually makes things more dangerous for pedestrians.
Much of the congressional delegation, led by Kaine, also wrote a letter to Buttigieg supporting funding for an I-64 connector to ease congestion between Richmond and Hampton Roads.
Construction Milestone for HQ2 — “Metropolitan Park, the first phase of our second headquarters’ development in Arlington, Virginia, is taking shape as we celebrate an important milestone: the ‘topping out,’ or completion of the highest floor of the building. So much has changed since we began construction more than two years ago in National Landing, and we can’t wait to welcome Amazon employees and the Arlington community to Metropolitan Park in 2023.” [Amazon, Twitter]
Covid Rate Low in the ER — From Virginia Hospital Center emergency department chief Dr. Mike Silverman: “This past week was the best COVID week we’ve had in a long time in the ER. We actually didn’t have any positive cases among our ‘symptomatic’ patients and just a handful or so among all comers to the ER. Our percent positivity rate was <2%. Hospitalizations remains low and we are returning to normal with in-person meetings and some options about mask wearing in non-clinical areas.” [Facebook]
Girl Found, Parents Eventually Located — “The parents of the little girl who was found unattended on the Martha Custis Trail in Arlington, Virginia, have been found on Saturday night. The girl was found behind a Giant grocery store on Langston Boulevard-U.S. 29 and Spout Run Parkway just before midnight Saturday.” [WTOP]
Arlington Gets HUD Grant — “The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded more than $2.8 million in FY 2021 Continuum of Care (CoC) Competition Awards to Arlington. The awards will provide funding to help individuals and families experiencing homelessness move into permanent housing with access to supportive services, with the overarching goal of long-term stability.” [Arlington County]
Aircraft Company Opens Local Office — “California-based Stratolaunch, which is testing the largest aircraft ever built, has established a permanent D.C.-area office. It’s in National Landing, the Crystal City area of Arlington County, Virginia. Stratolaunch was founded in 2011 by the late Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft.” [WTOP]
APS Students Serve as Pages in Richmond — “Two students at Swanson Middle School recently finished an 11-week program as pages with the Virginia House of Delegates. This selective program welcomes eighth and ninth-grade students to Richmond from across the commonwealth to learn about the legislative process and assist the House of Delegates. Chandani Rathod and Jacqueline Ake were the only two students chosen from Arlington County.” [Arlington Public Schools, Twitter]
Yes, Traffic is Getting Worse — “With more people returning to work, the D.C. region has seen an increase in drivers and that number could continue to shoot up. ‘It has been a steady climb,’ said Mary DePompa, WTOP Traffic anchor. Despite the rise in gas prices, the boom in the number of drivers appears to be a recent trend.” [WTOP]
It’s Monday — Clear throughout the day. High of 67 and low of 41. Sunrise at 7:11 am and sunset at 7:22 pm. [Weather.gov]
Update at 4 p.m. on 3/15/22 — President Joe Biden has signed a $1.5 trillion spending bill with funding for three projects in Arlington.
In the 10 months it took for the funding to pass, Arlington County substantially completed two of the projects: repaving parts of the Bluemont Junction Trail and replacing a pedestrian bridge in Glencarlyn Park.
The county moved forward with them in the interim due to safety concerns and the uncertain nature of federal funding, Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish told ARLnow on Tuesday.
The funding will pay for any remaining work and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is considering how to repurpose any unspent funds on similar projects, she said.
Earlier: A $1.5 trillion spending bill that cleared Congress on Friday has funding for three projects in Arlington.
The bill includes $13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine’s fight against Russia and will fund the federal government through September, avoiding an impending government shutdown. Now the 2,741-page bill is headed to the desk of President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it this week.
The bill also sends Arlington County more than $1.4 million to pay for a health initiative and two parks projects, for which Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) requested federal assistance last May. In total, the spending package has $5.4 million earmarked for 10 projects in Northern Virginia, at Beyer’s request.
“This funding will translate to significant, beneficial projects in Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax County,” he said in a statement on Friday. “I am thankful to my colleagues who enacted the legislation to fund these initiatives, and to the local leaders who worked with me to identify and develop the initial requests. These projects will make a real, positive difference in our region.”
Arlington County’s Department of Human Services is getting $390,000 to purchase two medically equipped vehicles for a forthcoming mobile crisis response team. While not yet in existence, the team will be responsible for responding to behavioral health crises and providing on-site treatment.
The team was a recommendation of the Police Practices Group, which identified about 100 ways policing could be reformed in Arlington, including some ways the county could remove police officers from its mental health crisis response.
The county earmarked $574,000 in the current budget to staff the team with a physician’s assistant, nurse and clinician, and to buy a transport van and operating supplies.
DHS spokesman Kurt Larrick says the vehicles will be purchased once the County Board officially accepts and allocates the federal funding, which will take a couple of months. The mobile crisis response team, meanwhile, is “not up and running yet,” he said.
“County residents do have access to Community Regional Crisis Response services, however, which is a mobile crisis response,” he said. “And our Emergency Services staff can and do go into the community when need arises and staffing allows.”
The county will receive $325,000 to fund repaving and repairs for a segment of the Bluemont Junction Trail and adjacent connector paths. A 2018 trails assessment determined the Bluemont Junction Trail needed significant investments, as the condition of the asphalt is deteriorating in many sections.
The section paid for by the federal government spans the intersection of N. George Mason Drive and Wilson Blvd to the intersection of the trail with the Washington & Old Dominion Trail.
This project is divided into two phases, according to the county. The first phase, completed late last year, updated the main trail and most of its connecting paths. The second phase will update three remaining trail connectors, which need to be realigned to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Phase two construction is expected to begin and end this spring and early summer.
Arlington budgeted $550,000 in its 2022-24 Capital Improvements Plan for the project.
The county will also receive $800,000 for the replacement of a pedestrian bridge in Glencarlyn Park. The bridge, lost during the July 2019 flash flooding, was recently installed. The project was part of the adopted 2021 Capital Improvements Plan.
Outside of Arlington, local earmarks in the bill will support storm sewer and climate resilience improvements in the City of Alexandria and Falls Church City and improve information technology services in Fairfax County. It will also support a pilot program for the deployment of body-worn cameras in the Alexandria Police Department and safety improvements to the GW Parkway.
Arlington’s top prosecutor just got a boost from the U.S. Department of Justice to continue pursuing criminal justice reforms.
The Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded $340,000 to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, led by Parisa Dehghani-Tafti. This is the maximum grant allowed through the bureau’s Innovative Prosecution Solutions program, according to a press release.
The $340,000 will fund two new positions, including one for someone trained in social work, the release said. It will support work to train facilitators in restorative practices — intended to reduce the length of incarcerations, at least in some cases, while also providing justice to the victim — and identify which D.C.-area restorative services and diversion programs produce the best public safety outcomes.
“It’s a game changer because it allows us to develop partnerships with diversion programs across the Metro area, for the first time, both in service of developing opportunities and reducing recidivism, incarceration, and racial disparities,” Dehghani-Tafti said.
The office will also hire a data expert and purchase software needed to analyze data about prosecutions, including how cases are resolved. Dehghani-Tafti campaigned on using data and evidence to drive criminal justice reform.
“It also gives us the capacity for evidence-based prosecution and evidence-based diversion decisions,” she said.
This grant will fund these positions and activities through June 2023, according to the release.
“This grant acknowledges and supports the work of local prosecutors trying to transform the criminal legal system,” said Dehghani-Tafti, who successfully ran on a criminal justice reform platform in 2019, in a statement.
Additional statements from the press release are below.
“I applaud the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s efforts and office for applying and obtaining funding under the DOJ’s FY 2021 Smart Prosecution–Innovative Prosecution Solutions Program,” stated Julius D. “J.D.” Spain, Sr., President Arlington Branch NAACP. “In efforts to focus on mediation and agreement rather than punishment, our community needs alternatives to traditional discipline. This additional funding will assist in developing effective strategies, enhancing our Restorative Arlington Program, and combating and prosecuting violent crime in Arlington.”
“Black Parents of Arlington commends the Commonwealth’s Attorney and her office for taking this important step to develop effective, economical, and innovative responses to crime within our jurisdiction,” said Whytni Kernodle, Co-Founder and President, Black Parents of Arlington. “These funds should help reduce rather than exacerbate racial disparities that are particularly harmful to young Black males, while helping to reduce crime and increase public safety for everyone in our community.”
“This funding will allow us to leverage the innovative and data driven work that Parisa’s office has been focused on since day one to increase efficiency, security and safety for our community,” said Kimiko Lighty, Coordinator, Restorative Arlington. “This grant award is an endorsement of the collaborative spirit that system partners here in Arlington have prioritized and we will all benefit from the investment in updated data systems and coordinative personnel.”
This year has also seen Dehghani-Tafti launch a wrongful convictions unit and partner with a national criminal justice organization to reduce race-based differences in prosecution by 20%.
At the same time, her tenure has seen some controversies. She has been the target of a recall effort, which cites increases in certain crimes such as carjackings — though the same data also shows a decrease in violent sex offenses and a relatively low homicide rate.
Additionally, there have been conflicts with judges over plea deals and dropping charges without an explanation for the record.
Yorktown Grad Sets Record at Olympic Trials — “18-Year-Old Arlington Aquatic Club swimmer Torri Huske just exploded in the first heat of women’s 100 fly semifinals, breaking the American Record. After showing off her speed this morning, splitting under World Record pace on the first 50, Huske blasted a 55.78 to touch first tonight. The swim marks a personal best by nearly a full second, and makes Huske just the 2nd American of all-time to break 56 seconds in the event.” [SwimSwam, Twitter, Twitter]
Amazon Adopts Hybrid Office Schedule — “We’ve adjusted our guidance on our plans for returning to the office and added more clarity. Going forward, we’ve decided to offer Amazonians a mix of working between the office and home… Our new baseline will be three days a week in the office (with the specific days being determined by your leadership team), leaving you flexibility to work remotely up to two days a week.” [Amazon]
Arlington Man Imprisoned for Harassment — “For more than a decade, the employees of a Washington think tank were traumatized by an unlikely harasser: a career Foreign Service officer. In hundreds of emails and voicemails, he called them ‘Arab American terrorist murderers’ and ranted about how they should be cleansed. Yet there was almost nothing they could do.” [Washingtonian]
Marymount Gets Federal Grant — “Marymount University has established a new fellowship program to prepare Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduates to serve high-needs populations and meet the demands of a growing profession. A $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will fund 84 fellowships for students within the University’s School of Counseling.” [Press Release]
Reflections on Halls Hill History — “One of those local historians is Wilma Jones, who grew up in the mostly Black community of Halls Hill in Arlington, Virginia. Now the neighborhood is rapidly gentrifying and Black families like hers have been pushed out. Today, Jones says it’s too late to save Grandma’s house, but it’s not too late to save her history.” [With Good Reason]
Vote: Favorite Outdoor Dining Spot — There’s one day left in the voting for this week’s Arlies category: Favorite Outdoor Dining Spot. [ARLnow]
(Updated 03/11/22) Rep. Don Beyer announced yesterday that he has requested federal funds to go toward a health initiative and two parks projects in Arlington County.
If approved, the funding would fund repaving a section of the Bluemont Junction Trail and repairing replacing a key pedestrian bridge in Glencarlyn Park. It would also purchase vehicles needed by a mobile response team that would respond to behavioral health crises rather than police.
The money would come from the Fiscal Year 2022 Community Project Funding Program, which provides targeted funding for local projects nationwide. Representatives were able to submit requests for up to 10 projects but there is no guarantee of approval. Beyer also requested money for projects benefiting the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church as well as Fairfax County.
“The infrastructure requests would enhance pedestrian routes in the region, support [electric vehicles] and other environmentally friendly initiatives, fund mental health resources, and support a pilot program for the deployment of body-worn cameras for the Alexandria Police Department,” Beyer said. “These are worthy projects deserving of federal funding.”
For the Bluemont Junction Trail, Beyer requested $325,000 to repave a segment of the trail and adjacent connector paths, improvements that the county identified during a 2018 trails assessment.
“The current trail pavement and connectors are in deteriorating condition with limited or poor access from adjacent and intersecting streets,” the announcement said.
Separately, the county is using capital funding to improve where the trail intersects with N. Kensington Street, N. Emerson Street and N. Buchanan Street.
Beyer requested $800,000 to replace the Glencarlyn Park pedestrian bridge lost during the July 2019 flash flooding. The Glencarlyn bridge was also included in Arlington’s adopted 2021 Capital Improvements Plan. (This article incorrectly said the Lubber Run bridge had been replaced. At the time, funding had been secured for its replacement. The project to replace one of the park’s two destroyed bridges is now in its design phase.)
“Of the six pedestrian bridges lost in the flooding event, the most important one for connectivity is the bridge in Glencarlyn Park,” Beyer’s announcement said. “This bridge connects the main park area, dog exercise area and neighboring communities to the west of Four Mile Run to the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. The bridge connection is important as both a commuter connection and for recreation and leisure walks on the W&OD Trail.”
On behalf of Arlington County, Beyer requested $390,000 to purchase two medically-equipped vehicles to be used by a team tasked with responding to mental health crises. Arlington’s Police Practices Group recently recommended that the county transition from dispatching police to such incidents to sending out a specialized mobile crisis response unit.
“The requested funds will support a ‘Help not Handcuffs’ approach to ensure that persons in behavioral health crises receive the most appropriate assistance needed when and where they need it,” Beyer’s announcement said. “A behavioral health response vs. a law enforcement response will increase community-based mental health care, decrease emergency department use, reduce inpatient admissions, divert from the criminal justice system and supports racial justice.”
In its lengthy report, the Police Practices Group also recommended procuring specialized vehicles or retrofitting existing ones for the mobile crisis unit.
The vehicles would supplement $574,000 in the county’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget to support an enhanced mental health crisis response program in the Department of Human Services. That allocation would fund a physician’s assistant, nurse, clinician, transport van and operating supplies.
Photo via Flickr pool user Tom Mockler