On a frigid, snowy night in January, nearly 50 Arlington staff, non-profit employees, and volunteers searched Metro stations, parks, and bridges for the County’s homeless. With Arlington TV capturing it all, they worked in teams to talk to the homeless, conduct brief surveys, and ensure they were aware of the County’s available resources.
The effort is part of Arlington’s annual Point In Time count, an important snapshot of homelessness in the County, whether in one of the County’s five shelters or on the streets.
This year’s Point In Time count was slightly different, as Arlington’s Department of Human Services piloted an approach designed to shed light on youth and young adult homelessness in the County. Through the #123YouthCount, the County asked to learn how homelessness has touched the lives of Arlington youth in an effort to better meet their needs.
County staff, non-profit employees, and volunteers helped organize and conduct the youth count, with teams in the community wanting to identify people 24 and under who might be homeless. While destinations included malls, libraries, and community centers, the County also hosted a “drop-in” location at the Arlington Mill Community Center, where youth experiencing homelessness, or those at risk of homelessness, could come talk, learn about services, and enjoy some food and fun.
It will take several week before the numbers for 2018 are available as part of the annual report from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG); Arlington’s 2017 Point in Time Count showed an increase from 174 people in 2016 to 232, but since 2010, the total number of people homeless in Arlington has dipped from 532.
If you or someone you know is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, contact the Department of Human Services Community Assistance Bureau (CAB) at 703-228-1300.
Arlington’s Homeless Services Center, opened in 2015, continues to bolster efforts to house veterans and chronically homeless individuals. The County’s eviction and homelessness prevention services, diversion services to keep people from entering the emergency shelter system, and a continuation of the Housing First model are other critical services that have helped reduce both single adults and families experiencing homelessness. Housing First emphasizes moving households into permanent housing as quickly as possible, and then providing supports as needed.
The County is in year nine of its 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. Launched in 2008 with a consortium of more than 100 stakeholders from public, private and faith-based community organizations, the plan’s primary goal is that no individual or family shall lack access to decent, affordable housing. Over the last year, the Arlington continuum of care has continued to review, evaluate, and improve systems and programs, and has started a process to develop a new strategic plan as a successor to the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness.