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Arlington County Board Approves Homeless Dormitory

At its meeting on Saturday, March 16, the Arlington County Board "approved a use permit that will allow the county government to move forward with an all-year homeless-services center" in the Courthouse area, reported the the Arlington Sun Gazette yesterday.

Specifically, the permit is "for a dormitory to be part of the Homeless Services Center, located at 2020 14th Street North (RPC #17-016-012 and 17-016-013)," according to the Manager's report to the Board (Agenda item 23 at the Board's March 16, 2013 meeting). The Office of Real Estate Assessments' records show the Board purchased the property on November 20, 2012 for $27,125,000, which was 41.2% above the 2012 assessed value (post-tax exempt status change) of $19,200,400.

The Sun Gazette reported:

"The homeless-services center will be located on two levels of a seven-story office building at 2020 14th St. North. The building, constructed in the mid-1960s, was purchased earlier this year by the county government, and will be used for county offices as well as the homeless center.

"The homeless center will include 50 beds, plus space for overflow, and will provide an array of services. It will be run by A-SPAN, and is expected to open in late 2014."

The Manager also told the Board in her report's "summary" section, "The dormitory use is not expected to have a significant adverse impact on the surrounding community," going on to identify four reasons. In addition, the Manager said "(t)here has been significant concern expressed by members of the community related to security." Consequently, the Manager said "a video monitor system is to be installed on the exterior of the building," and that "the County is willing to provide for, at least initially, a security guard at certain periods of the day." In the conclusion, the Manager wrote:

"Staff finds that the proposed use permit for a dormitory is appropriate in the subject location. The proposed use is not expected to have a significant adverse impact on the surrounding community. Community concerns that have been raised regarding the proposed use have been addressed by the proposed addition of the video monitoring to the exterior of the building, the security guard, providing a screen wall between the service alley for the subject site and the adjacent residential use to the rear, and by providing window treatments to ensure
privacy and security for both the clients of the shelter and the adjacent residential uses. The location of the proposed use is appropriate because it is well served by multiple modes of public transportation."

in her FY 2014 Proposed Budget (book page 18), the Manager said that "(o)perating costs associated with operations and maintenance of the recently acquired office building for the new homeless services center and County office space are estimated at $0.8 - $1.0 million annually" although she added that new programmatic costs are being developed that may add $0.4 - $0.5 million.

It must be nice to be a mastermind and think there are no limits to taxing and spending to meet those ephemeral unmet needs.


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