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). The coalition will continue interfacing with those in need throughout the pandemic to ensure one of our most vulnerable populations continues to receive the resources necessary to keep them healthy and safe.
“During this public health emergency, individuals experiencing homelessness have unique needs and it is imperative for the health and well-being of our community that they are met,” said M. Jay Farr, Chief of Police. “The coalition is streamlining this process by meeting individuals where they are in the community and acting as an immediate conduit to various social service, mental health and housing programs.”
“Effective street outreach is one of the strategies that has helped us reduce overall homelessness in Arlington by 60 percent over the past decade,” said DHS Director Anita Friedman. “We have developed strong, collaborative systems to prevent and end homelessness, and this effort is another great example of government agencies and non-profit partners working together to help our vulnerable neighbors.”
Working in unison, the coalition deploys to areas known to have unsheltered populations. Once contact is made with a homeless individual, the coalition:
- distributes hygiene kits containing a reusable water bottle, gloves, cloth facial covering, hand sanitizer and basic hygiene items
- provides hot meals and water
- performs COVID-19 screening to determine infection risk and vulnerability
- educates on ways to mitigate the possibility of exposure
- discusses the availability of various services including temporary housing options.
During the first week, the coalition connected with individuals in the areas of Rosslyn, Courthouse, Ballston and, in partnership with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police Department, Ronald Reagan National Airport.
Mitigating the Spread of COVID-19
Recognizing that in-person contacts are a necessary component of reaching the unsheltered population, the coalition practiced social distancing, wore appropriate personal protective equipment and frequently washed their hands.
As a reminder, the public can slow the spread of COVID-19 by taking the following actions:
- frequently washing hands
- practicing social distancing
- wearing cloth face coverings when in public settings
- staying home in accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order
Help is Available
If someone you know is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, call 703-228-1010 anytime for assistance. For information related to COVID-19, visit the county website or call the County hotline at 703-228-7999.