« Sen. Franken Earns March 2017 Porker of the Month Award | Main | Ameericans Paid Record $540.7 Billion in Property Taex in 2016 »

Explaining the Bad Behavior of Arlington County's Homeless

Arlington County taxpayers spent close to $10 million for a homeless services center, according to this Arlington County webpage, yet on "a cold and windy day" recently "a bus stop at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and North Rhodes Street" was being used as a bedroom, and apparently as a bathroom, too, according to an online report by Scott McCaffrey at the Arlington Sun Gazette.

These details came from a Rosslyn resident who spoke to members of the Arlington County Board.

What was disconcerting to Board members was learning that although "two police officers were on hand, talking to the man in the shelter . . . a day later, the feces still had not been removed." According to McCaffrey:

"That part of the story left County Board member Libby Garvey flabbergasted. Cleaning crews, she said, need to be “out there immediately” in such instances.

"Her board colleague, Christian Dorsey, also expressed concern, based on the facts as they were presented, that “nothing was done.”

"County Manager Mark Schwartz, too, expressed displeasure. “The expectation is that [police] will immediately get to the right people” about cleaning up biohazards like human excrement, he said.

"Asked about the incident several days after the board’s March 18 meeting, county officials said they followed up with police, but because no specific time or date of the incident was provided, the department was unable to find a complaint based on it.

"County-government spokesman Mary Curtius said it was “exceedingly rare” to find human waste at bus stops. The responsibility for clean-up rests with Solid Waste Bureau of the Department of Environmental Services. (Anyone seeing this type of health hazard should call the police department’s non-emergency number, 703-558-2222, officials said.)

On behalf of the county government, Curtius offered up a bit of a defense of the homeless hunkering down in bus shelters, so long as they are not creating a hazard.

“It is not illegal to be homeless, and police officers cannot compel people . . . to vacate benches in the public right-of-way if their presence is not impacting others,” she said.

"On the other hand, “If staff encounters such a situation, and the person’s presence is impacting ridership, staff engages . . . outreach workers, or police, as appropriate,” Curtius said."

McCaffrey then mentioned two more specific areas of community concern:

  • "Residents of a high-rise condominium adjacent to the homeless-services center in Courthouse remain unhappy with supervision at the facility.
  • "Staff at Central Library are known to complain about a proliferation of homeless who at times congregate there, often using bathrooms inappropriately."

He concluded by quoting Arlington County Board chairman Jay Fisette, writing, "the government needs to 'manage the situation for the community and the individuals.'"

By the way, the cost of the homeless shelter was "$9.679 million," and according to the county, "was completed within budget." Here's the cost breakdown: "$6.610 million construction authorization; $0.692 million for furnishings, security and IT equipment; $1.585 million in soft costs (design, construction administration, County staff time allocated to the project, permits and inspections); and, $0.792 million for installation of an emergency generator (added scope of work)."

The shelter is administered by the Housing Assistance and Homeless Programs unit of Economic Independence within the Department of Human Services (DHS). Unfortunately, the DHS budget does not breakout the cost of operating the shelter.

Growls readers who are Arlington County taxpayers should contact the Arlington County Board with any relevant questions about the homeless shelter. Just click-on the following link to send the Board a message:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130.

And tell them ACTA sent you.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.acta.us/growls-mt/mt-tb.fcgi/3705