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Morning Notes

Proposed HQ2 ‘Helix’ Tower Is Too Tall — “Amazon.com Inc. may need to lop off the tip of its proposed drill-bit-like structure, the Helix, at its PenPlace development to ensure the safety of flights coming into and out of Reagan National Airport. Engineers working for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority determined the 15-story building is roughly 13 feet taller than the maximum allowable height for structures that close to the airport.” [Washington Business Journal, WJLA]

Homeless Population Down This Year — “The number of individuals counted as homeless across Arlington [this year] was down 14 percent from 2020 and declined by 26 percent since 2017, according to new figures from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG). A total of 171 individuals were counted as homeless – either in shelters or living on the street – in the annual ‘Point in Time’ survey.” [Sun Gazette]

Update on Arlington Policing Practices — “Our Police Department has created an internal workgroup to review current policies and ensure they are aligned with best practices. Although excessive use of force has never been tolerated and our officers have been providing emergency medical treatment for years, additional language was added to our Use of Force policy to formalize current practices.” [Arlington County]

Arlington Man Has Big TikTok Following — “Tri Phan of Arlington, Virginia, has amassed 1.5 million followers since he began posting workout and healthy cooking videos in November. The 23-year-old, who is working on his master’s degree in data and business analytics at American University, often does two versions of his content, one in English and one in Vietnamese; about 60 percent of his followers are Vietnamese, he says.” [Associated Press]

Vets to Hike to Arlington from Connecticut — “On Tuesday, June 1, Will Reese will set out on “Ruck to Remember (R2R) – a 380-mile trek from Avon, CT, to Arlington, VA, to raise awareness and funds for APK Charities. Reese, who launched R2R in 2019, this time will be joined by hundreds of active and retired Military from all around the world who will all don “ruck-sacks” – military backpacks – for the 7-day march, which will culminate on Tuesday, June 8.” [We-ha.com]

Soon: No Tour Bus Parking at AF Memorial — “The removal of motorcoach parking at the entrance to the Air Force Memorial will present mobility issues, she said. “‘It will ultimately limit the number of people visiting the memorial,’ added [Guild of Professional Tour Guides] colleague Maribeth Oakes. Walking from the main cemetery entrance to the Air Force Memorial is a round trip of three miles and the trams, which cost $15 for adults, can fill up before the group of 58 could board. The guild would like a southern expansion with short-term parking for motorcoaches.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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Morning Notes

Va. Denied Reimbursement for Riot Response — “The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied requests from Maryland and Virginia for an emergency declaration to cover expenses associated with responding to the Capitol riot and increasing security around President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. FEMA’s decision — which both states plan to appeal — could mean the states would not receive federal funds for providing law enforcement personnel and other support.” [Washington Post]

Barriers Block Bridge — “Gate being put up at the Memorial Bridge. It’s now completely closed until Thursday morning.” [Twitter]

VP Pence Says Farewell — From outgoing Vice President and former Arlington resident Mike Pence: “Thank you for the privilege of serving as your Vice President these past four years, it has been the greatest honor of my life. On behalf of our Wonderful Second Lady, Karen Pence, and our entire Family, Thank You and God Bless America.” [Twitter]

Beyer Rips Trump One Last Time — From Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.): “At long last, Donald Trump will leave office tomorrow. His presidency and administration will be remembered for unprecedented incompetence and corruption.” [Twitter]

Change of Plan for 3rd-5th Graders — “We have decided to transition 3rd-5th grade students to the ‘concurrent instruction’ model, similar to the model adopted for secondary students… Students will be able to continue in their current class, with their current teacher, regardless of the model they selected.” Meanwhile, APS Superintendent Francisco Durán said in a School Talk email that “we do not have new student return dates to announce yet.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Changes for Annual Homeless Count — “Nicole Harmon, who oversees housing assistance for Arlington County, Va., says her county will make a number of changes when it conducts its count on the night of Jan. 27. ‘Safety is one of our primary concerns,’ she said. ‘We’re no longer able to take vans, where you could load up six to eight volunteers and staff to go out and perform the count.'” [NPR]

Car vs. Tree Crash Near Pentagon City — “A driver crashed into a tree near a condo building at 1515 S. Arlington Ridge Road this morning. We’re told the driver, who was shook up and evaluated by medics, mistook the gas pedal for the brake.” [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Morning Notes

DCA Expansion to Open Mid-2021 — “The 230,000-square-foot concourse on the north side of Reagan National Airport looks ready for passengers. The exterior walls are up. The roof is on. The terrazzo floor is almost in. And 11 of the 14 new jet bridges are being installed… The concourse is slated to open in July, but plans are in the works to do a ‘soft opening’ ahead of that date. An announcement is expected early next year.” [Washington Post]

Local Homeless Org Seeking Donations — “An organization in Arlington who helps the homeless now needs your help. Bridges to Independence in Arlington is a family shelter that has had to reduce the number of people they help due to COVID, but the need for help remains high. ‘We’ve served at least 22 new families since the pandemic and we are expecting an increase going into the new year,’ Whitfield said. [WJLA]

County Board to Meet with CivFed — “Immediately following the Jan. 4 organizational meeting of the Arlington County Board, the five members will hold an online gathering with the Arlington County Civic Federation. The 90-minute confab is designed as the opportunity for elected officials to expound on their priorities for the coming year, and for Civic Federation delegates to give feedback to pre-screened questions and, if time is available, questions from the floor.” [InsideNova]

Missing Woman Found — An Arlington woman reported as missing by county police a few days ago had been found, the department says. [Twitter]

It’s New Year’s Eve — ARLnow hopes you and yours have a happy new year. We are on a limited publishing schedule today; our news coverage will return in full on Monday. County offices and facilities, meanwhile, will be closed tomorrow, on New Year’s Day.

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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.

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After a successful food and toiletry drive last month, Clarendon Presbyterian Church plans to hold monthly food drives to help the Arlington community.

Last month, the church collected 105 boxes and bags of donations at its food and toiletry drive, exceeding expectations. In total, they raised more than $5,200 worth of products.

“Based on the demand, and the incredible community response, we’ve deciding to plan drive-thru collections each month,” said John Gunn. “So far, we’ve scheduled collections through October. “

The church will hold the next drive-through collection on Aug. 15 from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. at 1305 N. Jackson Street.

The donations went to organizations that help the homeless in Arlington, according to the church. Food donations were directed to Bridges to Independence in Clarendon, which supports families with children. Toiletry donations were directed to the Residential Program Center at Columbia Pike, which supports single adults.

To ensure COVID-19 safety, masks are required and no social interaction is permitted at the donation site.

Those interested in donating can send questions to [email protected] or call 703-527-9613.

Photos courtesy of John Gunn

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnowStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Tower).

Givr started with a sermon that founder Mark Ferguson just couldn’t get out of his head.

While attending church in 2019, Ferguson said his pastor gave everyone two minutes and told them to write down the names of eight neighbors. He couldn’t, and neither could many of his fellow parishioners.

The second part of the idea came when Ferguson switched jobs and started walking to work in Arlington.

“It coincided with me changing jobs and walking to work,” Ferguson said. “For the next few months, I was thinking about [the sermon]. I downloaded a neighborhood app, I was inviting neighbors to dinner. But as I was walking to work, I realized my viewpoint on who was my neighbor changed.”

Ferguson said he began to see the same people on the streets around Clarendon, and in talking to coworkers and friends said that many of them saw the same people as well, but didn’t know their names. After Ferguson was laid off from a venture capital firm in March, he said he felt an obligation to do something about the idea that had been rattling around in his head.

With Givr, subscribers can receive two care packages per month to distribute to neighbors dealing with homelessness. The packages are $22 per month, or less with other subscription plans, and contain food, clothing, hygiene items, and seasonal needs like winter clothing or sunscreen.

Givr was started not just as a way to help people experiencing homelessness — local nonprofits like Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) are experienced and uniquely situated for that — but as a way of connecting people to their neighbors.

“When you look at us you might say ‘this is a way to distribute aid’ as the actual product or something, but we don’t think about it like that,” Ferguson said. “We will measure bags and care packages distributed, but what we really care about and track on our end is names learned. It’s less about how much aid we can provide vs how much community we can build.”

It isn’t a new idea, Ferguson acknowledged. He said his girlfriend has been packing bags like this for months with items like socks and granola bars, to be thrown into her car and distributed. Churches and rotary clubs put similar packages together. What Ferguson said he hopes Givr can accomplish is taking the assembly stage out of it and using the startup model to spread the implementation.

“What we do is we assemble these care packages and ship them on a monthly basis to givers who sign up for our service,” Ferguson said. “You sign up and we’d send you a care package, which would include items that people experiencing homelessness really and truly need.”

As he and his co-founders started putting together the project, one of the big lessons Ferguson said he learned was that food is not always the most essential need.

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Morning Notes

Online Forums Devolve into Shouting Matches — Falls Church News-Press columnist Charlie Clark writes about how a Nextdoor post about kids not wearing masks during a baseball game erupted into a barrage of insults and debates among neighbors. Nextdoor is not alone in becoming a forum for heated local debates on hot button issues: last month the popular Fairlington Appreciation Society Facebook group shut down after flame wars broke out over issues related to the Black Lives Matter protests. [Falls Church News-Press]

Virtual ‘Arlington Cares’ Event Tomorrow — “This free, virtual event will recognize the 2020 Community Service Award Winners and remind us of the importance of serving others. A heartwarming opportunity for all ages that will celebrate the overwhelming goodness that is within our community.” [Event Calendar]

Reduction in Homelessness Prior to Pandemic — “For the 20th consecutive year, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Homeless Services Planning and Coordinating Committee has conducted a regional Point-in-Time (PIT) enumeration of the area’s residents experiencing homelessness and those who were formerly homeless. This year’s enumeration and survey occurred on January 22, 2020. Arlington saw a 7-percent reduction in overall homelessness, down from 215 persons in 2019 to 199 in 2020.” [Arlington County]

More Flood Damage in Waverly Hills — “After countless floods in Arlington’s Waverly Hills neighborhood soaked his basement, Tom Reich finally ordered a custom-made waterproof door to protect his home’s bottom level.
On Tuesday, the day before it was scheduled to arrive, yet another storm dumped buckets of rain on the region — and especially on 18th Street North. There, overwhelmed storm water mains sent three feet of water coursing down the street.” [Washington Post]

Beyer Furious at Response to Shooting Inquiry — “‘For nearly three years Bijan Ghaisar’s family and community have sought answers from federal authorities about why these officers killed Bijan and what consequences they will face. This response which tells us nothing after an eight-month delay is an insult to the people we represent,’ said [Rep. Don] Beyer. ‘The contempt such a pathetic answer shows for public transparency and accountability is unacceptable and will further damage the standing of the U.S. Park Police at a time when the region’s trust in them is already at an all-time low.'” [House of Representatives]

Report Businesses Flouting the Rules, Gov. Says — “As Virginia starts seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Ralph Northam reiterated Friday what has become a familiar message about limiting crowds, washing hand frequently and wearing face coverings. But he added a new fourth point: Report businesses flouting the rules to the local health department.” [InsideNova]

Freddie’s Closes Temporarily — “Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to close temporarily. One of our employees has tested positive for COVID-19. We are actively reaching out to customers and staff who may have been in contact since Wednesday July 8. We are beginning the process to have the restaurant fully sanitized so we may safely reopen as soon as possible.” [Facebook]

Nearby: MoCo Starting School Year Online — “Montgomery County students will begin the next academic year online, with a phased approach to bring them back to school buildings part-time by the end of November, according to the school district’s draft plan released Saturday.” [Bethesda Magazine]

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Morning Notes

Juneteenth Rally in Courthouse Today — “Please join the Arlington Black Employees Council for a 2020 Juneteenth Peace Rally on Friday, 11a-12p, outside at the Bozman Gov’t Center. The event will include a George Floyd tribute and recognition of victims of violence.” [Twitter]

Police Investigating Columbia Pike Robbery — “At approximately 1:24 a.m. on June 17, an officer was flagged down by the victim stating they had just been robbed. The investigation determined that the victim had exited a business when two unknown suspects approached him. One of the suspects struck the victim with an object appearing to be a firearm, causing him to fall to the ground. The suspects searched the victim’s person and fled the scene without taking anything from the victim.” [Arlington County]

ACPD Helps the Homeless During Pandemic — “In April, Arlington launched a homeless outreach coalition to help identify unsheltered individuals at high risk for COVID-19 and connect them with available resources and services. The coalition is comprised of stakeholders from the Police Department, Department of Human Services, and Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN). ” [Instagram]

Coronavirus Signage in Rosslyn — “The Rosslyn Business Improvement District decked out the neighborhood with a variety of light-hearted messages as part of an awareness campaign launched this week to encourage social distancing as the region loosens stay-at-home restrictions imposed to fight the spread of Covid-19. Through the messages — which are stamped to the sides of trash cans, in the windows of office buildings and on public benches — the BID hopes to remind people not to let their guard down.” [Washington Business Journal]

Backyard Blues Fest on Saturday — “CPRO is planning an alternative Backyard Blues Festival on June 20 from 5-7 p.m. Arlington community radio station WERA 96.7 FM will play a curated selection of blues while various local restaurants will offer special discounts on food and drinks, which can then be enjoyed in one’s backyard or patio with the radio cranked up.” [ARLnow]

Nearby: Falls Church Closes for Juneteenth — “In keeping with Governor Northam’s declaration designating Juneteenth as a state holiday, the City of Falls Church will also observe the holiday. City of Falls Church Government administrative offices will be closed. Employees who staff essential programs and services will work as scheduled.” [City of Falls Church]

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Morning Notes

More Arlingtonians Getting Out of the House — “The District and its suburbs all saw an increase in travel and a 1 percent to 5 percent drop in people staying home by April 17. The biggest drop occurred in Arlington County, where 50 percent of residents stayed home, down from 55 percent the previous Friday.” [Washington Post, @Matt4Arlington/Twitter]

County Launches Homeless Outreach Effort — “Last week, Arlington launched a homeless outreach coalition to help identify unsheltered individuals at high risk for COVID-19 and connect them with available resources and services. The coalition is comprised of stakeholders from the Police Department, Department of Human Services, and Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN).” [Arlington County]

YHS Senior Photos on CBS Evening News — “For America’s nearly four million high school seniors, the end of this school year is not what they imagined would be. But as Chip Reid reports, one photographer is making sure some members of the class of 2020 are not forgotten.” [CBS News]

Dem Primary May Be Called Off — “Chanda Choun, who was slated to face off against incumbent Libby Garvey in the June 23 Democratic County Board primary, anticipates pulling out of that race to seek the Democratic nomination for the July 7 special election to fill the seat left open by the death of Erik Gutshall… if Choun does drop out, the Democratic primary will be nixed.” [InsideNova]

Video: School Board Candidates Forum — “The questions covered a wide range of topics – whether/how much new curriculum should be taught during the COVID-19 crisis; how best to feed families during the pandemic; distance learning access during and after the pandemic; equity initiatives; equality in the classroom; encouraging integrated classrooms; AP and IB classes; community engagement; boundaries; sex education; and the superintendent’s contract.” [Blue Virginia]

School Board Rejects Furlough Day Proposal — “Arlington School Board members on April 23 rejected a budget-cutting proposal from Superintendent Cintia Johnson that would have had every school-system employee take an unpaid ‘furlough’ day in the coming school year. Instead, the school system will use about $3 million in reserve funds to pay staff that day and fund several other initiatives that Johnson had recommended reducing or eliminating.” [InsideNova]

Amazon Donates to Va. Comp Sci Education — ” Amazon will donate $3.9 million to CodeVA through 2022 to support their long-term plan to offer computer science education and training to every high needs school across Virginia – more than 700 schools… The donation will support more than 500,000 students and more than 12,000 teachers.” [BusinessWire]

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Morning Notes

HQ2 to Include Banana Stand, Local Businesses — “Schoettler said the outdoor areas will likely include elements from its Seattle headquarters, such as a community vegetable garden and a banana stand… Amazon’s in-house food program will only serve about one-quarter of the HQ2 workforce, encouraging the majority of the employees to each lunch at nearby businesses. And because Amazon will own the buildings, Schoettler said it will be able to curate the retail to focus on locally owned businesses.” [Bisnow, WAMU, Washington Business Journal]

County Again Recognized for Tech Savvy — “Arlington County is once again among the top ranked digital counties in the nation. The Center for Digital Government and National Association of Counties 2019 award designated Arlington second place in the 150,000-249,999 population category.” [Arlington County]

Legion Development a National Model? — “Post 139 and APAH’s partnership should serve as an example for addressing the issue of homeless veterans, said Darryl Vincent, chief operating officer of nonprofit U.S.VETS… In 2018, there were 12,806 American Legion posts across the country, a huge inventory of property that could be repurposed as affordable housing.” [Politico]

Helicopter Noise Amendment Passes House — “The House of Representatives adopted a set of amendments to H.R. 2500, the National Defense Authorization Act, including two offered by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) which would address helicopter noise in the National Capital Region.” [Press Release]

ACPD: Lock Your Car and House — “The Arlington County Police Department is joining law enforcement agencies throughout the country in a public safety campaign aimed at promoting crime prevention strategies to reduce and prevent thefts from vehicles and homes. The campaign, known as the 9 P.M. Routine, encourages residents to conduct security checks in their homes and vehicles each evening to ensure their property is secure.” [Arlington County]

APS Teacher Receives National Recognition — “Wilfredo Padilla Melendez, teacher at Claremont Immersion School, received Instructure’s 2019 Educator of the Year Award. Wilfredo was recognized as one of six educators who go above and beyond to redefine traditional classroom activities.” [Press Release]

Photo courtesy Arlington VA/Flickr

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The number of people experiencing homelessness in Arlington County may have decreased, according to new data released last week.

Homeless young adults and the incidence of chronically homeless adults, however, may be on the rise.

A total of 215 individuals were reported as homeless in Arlington, according to the most recent Point in Time (PIT) data from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG). That’s six fewer people than last year’s count.

By comparison, 232 people were found to be homeless in the county in 2017, which represented a spike upward from 174 in 2016. Arlington’s homelessness rates peaked in 2010, with 532 recorded as living without a home.

PIT is a nationwide census that recruits local volunteers to tally the number of people they find living on the streets and in shelters during one night in January every year. The volunteers also collect information on the people they tally, like whether they are living alone or with family members. The Department of Housing and Urban Development uses the resulting data to allocate resources nationwide.

“Overall, the Point-in-Time numbers continue to validate the strategies laid out in our Action Plan for Ending Homelessness and the ongoing work of our Continuum of Care,” said Kurt Larrick, assistant director of the county Department of Human Services. “We had an overall decrease of 3 percent this year.”

Larrick added in an email that the county will use the PIT count along with its year-round data to address challenges and pinpoint needs.

“Limited housing options are probably the biggest barrier, particularly to those experiencing chronic homelessness and those who have disabilities and housing barriers,” he said “We know that combining housing with rental subsidies and support services tailored to individual needs is the most effective way to help people attain stable housing, and this will continue to be part of our overall strategy moving forward.”

During last year’s PIT count, Arlington began seeking out more information about kids and young adults who were living on the streets or in one of the county’s five shelters. The data collected in January found six young adults ages 18 to 24 who were homeless on their own, and four who were with their families — the highest such count in at least the past five years.

Sixty-six people were counted in 2019 as living homeless with their families in the county, down from 77 the year before. Of the 66 family members counted this year, 26 were children.

MWCOG wrote on its website that 9,794 homeless people were counted across the Greater Washington Area, making this, “the fewest number of people counted since the annual regional census — or Point in Time (PIT) count — began 18 years ago.”

Regionwide, the number of veterans recorded as experiencing homelessness decreased by 6 percent. But in Arlington two more veterans were recorded in 2019 compared to 2018, according to the full 180-page MWCOG report. Arlington also recorded 17 additional adults who are considered “chronically homeless.”

The report notes that area governments “attribute the slight increase in the number of residents counted as chronically homeless from 2018 to 2019 primarily to a lack of affordable housing options, particularly permanent supportive housing, to enable more residents to exit homelessness and remain stably housed.”

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