Arlington, VA

(Updated May 16, 9 a.m.) An Arlington County office building in Courthouse that’s home to the county’s 24-hour homeless shelter is cleaning up from some heavy flooding Tuesday (May 15).

A water pipe on the top floor of the seven-story building at 2020 14th Street N. broke Monday night (May 14), according to Jessica Baxter, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services.

Baxter told ARLnow that “drainage from the broken pipe impacted all areas of the building,” including the county’s Homeless Services Center, other government offices and even the Chelsea Market & Deli and Ragtime Restaurant on the building’s ground floor.

“County contractors are on-site cleaning up the water, repairing the pipe and recharging the chilled water system to restore HVAC services on floors 4-7,” Baxter wrote in an email. “HVAC services for the lower floors were not impacted.”

Baxter says the flooding has not impacted services at the shelter, but it has forced county employees working on the first and fifth floors to temporarily relocate to the other offices.

The county bought the building for $27 million in 2012, in part to open a new, year-round shelter for the homeless. The shelter opened in 2015.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Pentagon Looking into Helicopter Noise Reduction — After pressure from residents who live near the Pentagon, along with Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), “FOX 5 has learned the Department of Defense is researching ways to reduce helicopter noise and is ready to hear concerns from… neighboring residents.” [Fox 5]

Caiazzo is New ACDC Chair — The Arlington County Democratic Committee has elected Jill Caiazzo, a lawyer and policy advocate, as its new chair. She succeeds Kip Malinosky, who was lauded at last night’s ACDC meeting for his four years of service as chair. [Blue Virginia, Facebook]

Favola Pushes Highway Name Bill — In an effort to allow Arlington to change the name of its stretch of Jefferson Davis Highway, and perhaps even Lee Highway, state Sen. Barbara Favola “is patroning legislation that would allow any Virginia county, city or town to change the name of any highway in its environs, so long as the original name was put in place prior to 1965.” [InsideNova]

Homeless Shelter Busy During Cold Snap — Some 80 people a night were staying at Arlington’s homeless shelter in Courthouse during the recent extended blast of frigid temperatures. The shelter, which relocated to an office building next to Arlington police headquarters in 2015, can accommodate up to 90 people during sub-freezing weather. [Arlington Connection]

History of the Sun Gazette — In his latest column, “Our Man in Arlington” Charlie Clark recounts the history of Arlington’s Sun Gazette newspaper. [Falls Church News-Press]

Printing Business Offers Free Pizza — In a unique partnership, Ballston-area printing business ASAP Screen Printing is partnering with newly-renamed pizza restaurant Alto Fumo to offer customers who spend at least $100 a free pizza. [Press Release]

Flickr pool photo by Jim Harvard

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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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Written by Carolyn Hamm

Arlington County wanted to tackle homelessness effectively by opening a shelter that would also provide employment training and substance abuse treatment. What county leaders accomplished is a model example of how to repurpose an existing 1965 office building into something that benefits the entire community and helps address the nation’s growing homeless problem.

One of the biggest challenges was making sure the converted office building at 2020-A 14th Street North felt warm in winter. It had drafty single-pane windows. The shelter opened in 2015 and that first winter, it was so cold, the county installed plastic sheeting on the windows and used space heaters. But that wasn’t going to work long term.

To replace the windows would have cost more than $1 million and required constructing scaffolding on the exterior of the building. Instead, the county found SuperGreen Solutions of Maryland which sells Indow interior window insertsFor less than 20 percent of what it would have cost to replace the windows, Arlington County installed 304 Commercial Grade custom window inserts. This eliminated the need for plastic sheeting and space heaters and enabled the 50-year-old single-pane windows to perform like new double-panes.

Residents throughout the region have also used Indow inserts in their homes to block drafts and increase energy efficiency.

The inserts can be easily removed and make the shelter’s living areas much more comfortable. “The inserts are integrated so well into the whole frame of the window that you don’t even see them,” said Bryan Pax of SuperGreen Solutions. “Unless someone tells you they’re there, you wouldn’t know.”

Since they are interior storms, the county didn’t need to apply for a permit to put up exterior scaffolding and get a crane to apply exterior storms. The Indow acrylic inserts just pressed into place on the inside.

Addressing the problem from the interior was better for the county, said Pax. “If you want to remove one, it can be easily removed. It was win-win all the way around.”

The building was a strategic location for the Arlington County because it’s in the heart of things, not far from public transportation, the police headquarters and various services. It has 50 year-round beds and an additional 25 winter beds for people who might otherwise suffer from hypothermia.  

Nationwide, on any given night in 2016, 549,928 people were homeless in the U.S. and living in a shelter, transitional housing or out of doors, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Earlier this year, Arlington County saw a 33 percent jump in its homeless population to 232 people, according to a survey published by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

Repurposing a building for a homeless shelter takes planning and creativity. In addition to dealing with the windows, the county had to add bathrooms, sleeping areas and dining rooms. It also needed convalescent rooms for people recovering from illnesses as well as offices for those in charge of operations. The project’s leaders wanted a commercial kitchen to train people who are homeless in the hospitality industry.  

Pax takes pride in helping Arlington County create a more efficient building that works to solve a pressing social problem. He has helped commercial building owners across the region save money on energy costs and create more comfortable work environments by offering them an affordable solution for drafty windows.

For more information, visit www.indowwindows.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

Bike tracks in the snow (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Snow Possible During PM Commute — Another “flurrypocalypse” is possible during tonight’s evening commute. Forecasters say some snowfall is possible durning rush hour, and the frigid temperatures could allow enough snow accumulation for a repeat of the nightmare commute of Jan. 20. Road crews, however, say they’re ready. [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter, Twitter]

What To Do If Someone Needs Shelter — With bitter, possibly record cold temperatures expected this weekend, Arlington County says residents should call the county’s Homeless Services Center at 703-228-1010 if they know of anyone who needs shelter from the elements. [Twitter]

Long-Time Electoral Board Member Reappointed — Allen Harrison, Jr. has served on the Arlington Electoral Board for 29 years and was just reappointed in time for the March 1 presidential primary. Harrison, who is the Republican representative on the Board, is thinking about resigning before the November general elections. He’s the second-longest-serving Electoral Board member in Arlington history. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Morning Notes

Wilson Blvd has been renamed Marine Corps Marathon Drive in honor of the marathon on Oct. 25, 2015

Sandra Bullock Remembers W-L Cheerleader Days — Oscar-winning actress and Arlington native Sandra Bullock says her Washington-Lee High School cheerleading uniform still fits like a glove. “That might come in handy some sexy night. I don’t know who I’m saving it for,” she told Glamour magazine. [Daily Mail]

ICE Detainer for Sexual Assault Suspect — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has placed a detainer on Melvin Bonilla, the suspect in a string of sexual assaults in Arlington. Bonilla was arrested by Arlington County Police yesterday morning. [Fox 5]

Opposition to Homeless Shelter Winds Down — With Arlington’s new Homeless Services Center now open across from police headquarters in Courthouse, nearby residents are apparently starting to acquiesce to their new neighbor. Reports “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark: “Many neighbors in condos alongside the Courthouse building at 2020 N. 14th St. have rethought their opposition.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Lockdown Drills for Pre-K Students — An Arlington Pre-K teacher reflects on having her students participate in lockdown drills, which would be used in the event of an active shooting situation. The drills are now routine in Arlington elementary schools, the teacher says. [Washington Post]

Library Launches Sci-Fi Book Club — Arlington Public Library has launched “Strange Lands,” a science fiction book club that will meet monthly at Java Shack in Courthouse, starting Oct. 21. [Arlington Public Library]

VOICE Launches Voter Outreach Effort — The pro-affordable housing group Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement, or VOICE, is launching a voter outreach effort this fall. VOICE plans to concentrate turnout efforts on two low-turnout precincts: Arlington Mill and Glebe. [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Rainy windshield (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

New Homeless Shelter Opens Today — Arlington County’s new $9 million Homeless Services Center in Courthouse opens today. Serving a county-wide homeless population of about 250, the shelter will provide a warm and safe place for homeless individuals to sleep at night, in addition to providing medical care, substance abuse and job training programs. [Arlington County, WAMU]

‘Good Morning Guy’ No Longer in Clarendon — “Good morning guy” Robert Gordon, a beloved Express newspaper distributor, is no longer handing out the free papers in Clarendon, disappointing many commuters. Where did he go, a reader asked? A Washington Post spokeswoman tells ARLnow.com: Gordon is still distributing the Express just down the Orange Line, in Rosslyn.

Wakefield Wins in Rout — The Wakefield High School football team defeated Mt. Vernon last night, 45-0, despite the Warriors’ starting running back being sidelined with an injury. [Washington Post]

Clement Proposes New Regional Park — Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement says that if she’s elected, she would work to build a new regional park inside the Beltway. “Arlington has nearly run out of public open space to keep pace with our population growth,” Clement writes in a press release. “We have to go back to the future and do what our parents and grandparents did 50 years ago: Buy land for new regional parks, outdoor recreation and playing fields.” [Clement for County Board, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Arlington County’s new year-round homeless shelter will open its doors next week.

The Homeless Services Center officially opens on Oct. 1 with day programs and will start offering beds to the county’s homeless population on Friday, Oct. 2.

The new shelter has 50 year-round beds — 36 on the men’s side and 14 on the women’s side — and 25 “hypothermia prevention beds” for cold winter nights.

The center has a sitting room for people to relax or watch TV, a cafeteria serving meals around the clock and a classroom, where the shelter plans to hold job training, budgeting and art classes, said Kathy Sibert, the president and CEO of Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network.

The shelter is colorful, with a bright orange wall greeting people as they approach the front desk. The bedroom walls are painted blue on the women’s side and green on the men’s side. Even the floors are colorful, with green tiling on the women’s side and blue on the men’s side.

Macy’s will be providing sheets in blues and greens for the beds, Sibert said, making the accommodations slightly less spartan.

“Anita [Friedman], the director of Department of Human Services, and I were really intent that this wouldn’t look like an institute,” she said.

The color extends to the bathrooms, which have blue or green tiles instead of gray, said Scott Miller, senior director of development at A-SPAN.

“Color costs nothing,” he said. “Let’s make this place welcoming.”

The center will replace the emergency winter shelter two blocks away in Courthouse, which was open from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m. Other homeless services, including meals, will also be done at the new shelter.

“We’re going to have everything in one place, which is awesome,” Sibert said.

Having the shelter open 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the year means A-SPAN will rely on volunteers to help keep things running, in addition to the 30 A-SPAN staff members, Miller said.

“We gobble up 15,000 volunteer hours here,” he said.

The new shelter is located directly across of the police station and near some Courthouse condominiums. Neighbors had voiced security concerns about having the shelter so close to their homes.

In response, A-SPAN hired security officers to patrol inside and outside of the building and installed cameras. People at the shelter will be allowed to go out for smoke breaks, but A-SPAN will limit it to three or four people going on a break at a time.

“Here’s the thing. You’ve got to remember that they’re people, too,” Sibert said.

There may still be occasional problems that arise, admits DHS spokesman Kurt Larrick, but A-SPAN and the County are working hard to take preventative measures.

“We want to be good neighbors,” he said.

Concerned residents can call Sibert or the homeless shelter to report problems, she said. There is also a Homeless Services Center Neighborhood Advisory Committee to help keep positive communication between the county and neighbors regarding issues with the shelter.

The county has worked with the police department to train about half of its offices on crisis intervention techniques, which help officers identify people with possible mental illnesses and bring them to a hospital instead of jail.

“Many, many officers have that training and are good at working with mental illnesses,” Larrick said.

About one-third of homeless people in Arlington have a mental illness, including substance abuse or general anxiety, Sibert said, adding that the homeless shelter has therapists and doctors to help provide support.

Getting people into a stable home situation also helps people deal with mental illness, Larrick said.

“So many mental illnesses are treated by medications, but its hard to stay on medications when you are on the street,” he said.

Ultimately, the goal of the homeless shelter is to help end homelessness by helping people get off the street and into homes, Sibert said. A-SPAN does this by providing case managers who follow each person throughout the process.

“[The shelter] is really a bridge so people don’t have to live on the street,” she said.

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Morning Notes

Arlington aerial photo at night (Flickr pool photo by Mark White)

New Homeless Shelter to Open Next Month? — Months delayed, Arlington’s new year-round homeless shelter is getting closer to opening. The facility in Courthouse, located across the street from police headquarters, is now expected to open by late September or early October. [InsideNova]

Orange Line Delays Reported — Passengers are reporting delays of 10-20 minutes on the Orange Line this morning. Metro says inbound trains are indeed delayed from Vienna. No problems have been reported with Silver Line trains so far. [Twitter]

County Producing International Tourist Videos — Arlington County is working with the group Brand USA to produce tourism videos aimed at international visitors. Filming took place around various Arlington landmarks last month. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Mark White

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