Carpenter’s Shelter has invited the community to a ribbon-cutting on Thursday (Dec. 10) for the new shelter for people experiencing homelessness.
“This ribbon-cutting will be held in conjunction with with the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation, who will be celebrating the opening of 97 affordable apartment units named The Bloom at Braddock,” the nonprofit said in a press release.
The new facility will have 60 beds available and ten of the homes in The Bloom will be available for chronically homeless adults. Those saying in the supportive housing units above will have case managers to assist with chronic issues like health, employment and education.
“It’s with pride that we open the doors on this purpose-built space to help Alexandria’s population that is homeless,” said Shannon Steene, executive director of Carpenter Shelter. “But more importantly to be able to work with a great organization in AHDC to also increase the city’s affordable housing supply. It’s great to be a part of this dynamic collaboration and we are looking forward to working together.”
Image via AHDC
City’s Guidance for Students Returning Home — “Students and staff should minimize their interactions with others as much as possible in the 14 days before leaving the IHE. Students and staff should also minimize the risk of exposure during travel home. Traveling alone in a private vehicle is the safest option. Students and staff who are unable to limit interactions with others at the IHE may consider quarantining themselves for 14 days after they arrive home.” [City of Alexandria]
Killer ESP Owner Denies Allegations by Quitting Staff — “Presented with some of the specific accusations against him regarding sexual harassment and the shop’s cleanliness, Shelton said, ‘This is outrageous. These lies are more absurd than the first go around.’ He said he would follow up with call, but later texted, ‘I’ve been advised by my attorneys to keep quiet.'” [Washingtonian]
City Urges Shelter During Cold for People Experiencing Homelessness — “The temperatures are dropping into the 20s tonight. The City’s Winter Shelter for individuals and families experiencing homelessness is open in two locations.” [Department of Community and Human Services]
Visit Alexandria Receives Grant to Expand Marketing of City’s Black History — “With the grant, Visit Alexandria will be able to produce videos and other media, including web content about Black-owned businesses and African American heritage sites. The plan is to highlight areas such as those that can be seen during the Courageous Journey: Alexandria’s Black History Driving Tour and Duke Street Black History Trail.” [Zebra]
Staff photo by James Cullum
As anyone going to vote in-person today can attest, winter’s bitter chill has started to set in. Temperatures are expected to hit a low of 41 degrees tomorrow. For the city’s most vulnerable populations, however, shelter has opened to help locals experiencing homelessness get through the winter.
“A shelter at Lee Center (1108 Jefferson) is serving single adults and another at Carpenter’s Shelter (5701 Duke St., Suite D) is serving families,” the city said on its website. “The Winter Shelter program, also called hypothermia shelters, is operated by Carpenter’s Shelter to ensure that guests have a warm, clean and safe environment to retreat from the elements of winter at night.”
The locations are open 7 p.m.-7 a.m. daily through March 31. The Lee Center was added as a location this year to allow for more social distancing between guests as prescribed by CDC guidelines. Areas will also be set aside for isolation in the event that either a guest or staff becomes ill. Guests and staff at the facilities will also be screened for COVID-19 before entry, the city said.
Transportation is available both to and from the shelters to locations throughout Old Town.
“Residents interested in supporting their neighbors experiencing homelessness are invited to join the Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness (PPEH),” the city said. “The PPEH strives to ensure the planning, coordination and implementation of an effective and efficient continuum of care to prevent and end homelessness in the City of Alexandria. Email [email protected] for more information or find PPEH online.”
Photo via Google Maps
City Releases Annual Homeless Data — “The 2020 Annual Point-in-Time (PIT) Count revealed 207 persons experiencing homelessness (i.e., unsheltered and in temporary shelter made available by homeless services providers) in the City of Alexandria.” [City of Alexandria]
Alexandria Police Release 2019 Traffic Stop Data — “The vast majority of traffic stops — 80 percent — occur on weekdays, with Tuesday and Wednesday being the most common days.” [Alexandria Living]
Carpenter’s Shelter Gets Hydrated — “Did you know today (Tuesday) is National Hydration Day? Thanks to Trezur C of Tres Outreach for donating twenty five cases of water to keep our residents nice and cool during these hot summer days!” [Facebook]
Fire Department Conducting Virtual Station Tours — “So instead of in person tours and visits, we thought we would provide a couple of virtual station tours for the community, especially those who are frequent visitors at their neighborhood stations and couldn’t drop by during the past few months. First up, Fire Station 206, located at 4609 Seminary Road…our tech rescue station.” [Facebook]
ALX Community Hosting COVID Coping Workshop June 25 — “Hosted by Elena Jimenez, founder of Execute Your Destiny, this series offers a rare opportunity to navigate the current social and racial climate in search of new perspectives and solutions.” [Eventbrite]
New Job: Part-Time Dance Teacher — “Looking for experienced dance and acro teachers. Openings on weekdays and Saturday. Primarily classes for children aged 3 and older.” [Indeed]
Carpenter’s Shelter reopened its David Place facility at Landmark Mall last week and moved back all of its residents from the temporary shelter at Charles Houston Recreation Center.
Meanwhile, a number of homeless residents and families are still being housed in hotel rooms in the city — a measure that was put in place to protect them from the coronavirus.
Carol Mizoguchi, director of the Office of Community Services, said that the city still has 34 rooms under contract with the Residence Inn Old Town Alexandria South at Carlyle. She also said that the city’s rehousing funds are being used to help the residents find housing options.
“Right now we have 13 families and 19 singles that are still in the hotel, and we’re working to prioritize and move those families to permanent housing,” Mizoguchi said. “We’re utilizing our rapid rehousing dollars. Also ARHA (the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority) has vouchers, so we’ve made referrals for many of those families to receive vouchers, and hopefully, be able to find landlords that are willing to rent to the families, and they’ll have help pay for their rent.”
Carpenter’s Shelter Executive Director Shannon Steene told ALXnow that there are about 25 homeless residents back at David’s Place.
“Some of them are back in David’s Place, some of them found some other means in order to meet their needs and we’re grateful for that,” Steene said.
Jamila Smith, the Carpenter’s Shelter relationship manager, said that the nonprofit needs volunteers and supplies for their clients. She also said that residents and staff are separated by plexiglass partitions, residents are required to wear face masks indoors and that temperatures are taken on a daily basis.
“We are still looking for 20 twin air mattresses, new twin sheet sets and pillow and towel sets, cutlery and some of the basics that you would need to move into a new place,” Smith said. “We are in need of volunteers to assist at our front desk, to provide and serve food and to help organize donations.”
Great News!!!! Our families are starting to leave the hotel and move to their new homes! We are so excited for them!…
Staff photo by James Cullum
Alexandria is putting many of the city’s homeless in hotel rooms for the foreseeable future.
“While many of our hotels are suffering significant losses of their own, they have been willing to partner with the City to assist in the response,” Mayor Justin Wilson told ALXnow. “To ensure that our homeless populations can maintain safe social distancing, these hotel partnerships have been critical.”
On April 1, the city made a contract with the Residence Inn Old Town Alexandria South at Carlyle, to house up to 46 households experiencing homelessness, city spokesman Craig Fifer said.
“Since the situation is evolving, there is no specific end date for this sheltering option at this time,” Fifer said.
The individuals and families being housed are equipped with kitchens, and rooms are attended by hotel housekeeping staff.
“Individuals and families experiencing homelessness are often more vulnerable because it may be harder for them to access public health information, food and medicine, shelter, running water and hand sanitizer, face coverings, heath care and other basic needs,” Fifer said. “They are also more likely to have underlying medical conditions due to past difficulty accessing health care.”
The total cost if all rooms are used for the maximum times they’re under contract through June 10 is $143,986.44, according to the city. The monies can come from the City’s fund balance for emergency and disaster response, and may be reimbursable with federal COVID-19 funding.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted a number of the city’s vulnerable groups, and sheltering options are also available via Carpenter’s Shelter at the Charles Houston Recreation Center in Old Town and Alexandria Community Shelter at 2355-B Mill Road.
Carpenter’s Shelter opened a 40-person temporary safety shelter at the Charles Houston Recreation Center on Monday, and up to 40 chronically homeless people will be sleeping on mats on the basketball court.
The Carpenter’s Shelter David’s Place/winter shelter is now closed for the season and does not provide the same space for distancing as Charles Houston (901 Wythe Street).
The city’s DASH bus system transported 40 people to Charles Houston on Monday. Eight families have also been relocated to hotels in the city, and Carpenter’s Shelter plans on renting out the hotel rooms and using the recreation center for a month.
“They were too crowded in that amount of space, and that’s what prompted the discussion and exploring other alternatives in the community,” Carpenter’s Shelter Executive Director Shannon Steene told ALXnow. “This has been quite a coordinated response with various partners across the city as this whole pandemic has unfolded.”
If the recreation center and hotel rooms are still needed after a month, an extension will be considered, Steene said.
“We might have to make a reassessment,” he said. “The base goal amid all of this is making sure that people are safe.”
Steene said that the organization, which is working without volunteers for the first time, needs up to 50 homemade face masks, sanitary wipes and hand sanitizer for his staff and residents.
“We do need masks. We got a shipment in of homemade masks, and they went very quickly to our residents,” Steene said. “We’ve ordered commercial ones, and as with everyone they’re on backorder, so we’re just holding our own at this point trying to keep safe and covered with cloth as best as possible.”
Those interested in donating to Carpenter’s Shelter should contact Volunteer Coordinator Jamila Smith at 703-548-7500, or at [email protected]
Carpenter’s Shelter is working through the COVID-19 pandemic without its cadre of volunteers, and people are now staying at Alexandria’s largest homeless shelter for longer periods of time, according to the organization’s executive director.
“The days have been long and the challenge is great, but the best perspective on all of this is that our work and our mission has never felt more critical than it does right now,” Carpenter’s Shelter Executive Director Shannon Steene told ALXnow. “We are seeing more people in the shelter for longer periods of time, and all in the context of asking our volunteers not to be volunteering at the shelter for the health and safety of our residents.”
The pandemic has forced Carpenter’s Shelter — located at the vacated Macy’s department store at Landmark Mall — to ask its 1,200 volunteers to stay home, and Steene’s staff of 25 employees are going outside their job descriptions to make sure that the organization’s 60-bed emergency shelter remains operational and that the virus does not make its way in. Carpenter’s Shelter is also still operating its hypothermia shelter.
Steene said that Carpenter’s Shelter needs grocery store gift cards for individuals and families and hand sanitizer. He also said that residents and staff are taking daily temperature checks.
“We have deputized staff and residents as wipe down warriors, so there’s a lot of wiping of any touched surfaces going on,” he said. “
Usually there are upward of 20 volunteers working at Carpenter’s Shelter every day –out of 1200 volunteers — and Steene said this is the first time in the organization’s history that volunteers have not helped weather a crisis.
“We have had winter storms where five staff members have stayed in the building for 52 hours at one stretch just making sure that everything is safe and suitable for the residents, but this is the first time in our organizational life that we haven’t had volunteers in the shelter,” he said. “And I’ve got to say that our volunteers are embedded in our culture and the energy. We look forward to when all of this is under our control and seeing those volunteers come back into our work. They’re the lifeblood of what we do.”
Visit Alexandria Launches ‘ALX at Home’ — “Experience Alexandria’s restaurants, shops and attractions from the comfort of your own home… From unlimited ‘Ride it Out’ bike rentals to beer-to-go curbside pickup to FaceTime shopping, there are numerous ways to support the independent businesses that make Alexandria so special. Buy a gift card for a future date. Pick up a ready-to-go dinner to make at home. Tap into your creative spirit by taking a live stream writing workshop.” [Visit Alexandria]
Mark Levine Says It’s ‘Criminal’ to Congregate During Pandemic — “You must be unaware of the @GovernorVA‘s executive order. There are criminal penalties for going to a bar or restaurant tonight. If more than 10 people congregate, the restaurant can lose its license and folks can go to jail. ” the Delegate for Virginia’s 45th district wrote in an email.” [Twitter]
Former Police Chief Charles Samarra Passes Away — “Charlie was a beloved figure in the region’s public safety community. He will be missed by many, but his legacy of excellence and professionalism lives on.” [Facebook]
Alexandria Doctor Helps Homeless During Pandemic — “As far as street care, I don’t really feel comfortable having anyone else with me right now due to all the unknowns from coronavirus.” [WTOP]
Old Town Home and Garden Tour Canceled — The annual event was to be held on April 18, and has been canceled due to concerns about coronavirus. [Alexandria Living]
Driver Hospitalized After Car Flips on King Street — “Overnight, units from 206 and Arlington Station 109 worked to assist one patient from an overturned vehicle on King Street near Dawes Avenue. One patient was transported to an area hospital by Medic 206.” – [Twitter]
Fox 5: No Additional Delays on Seminary — Alexandria’s Seminary Road controversy has taken another turn in the local TV news spotlight. This time, Fox 5 looked at the lane reduction issue and concluded that the brief periods of gridlock on the road during peak times are not, in fact, worse than it was when the Seminary was two lanes in both directions. [Fox 5, Twitter]
Population, Housing Continue to Grow — “Alexandria’s housing inventory is barely keeping up with its population growth. That’s a key takeaway from Alexandria’s recently released fiscal 2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report… The city added an estimated 2,300 residents in the last year, climbing to 156,800, and roughly 2,900 total residential units, ending fiscal 2019 with 82,310.” [Washington Business Journal]
New ACPS Trying Out Healthy Recipes — “Alexandria City Public Schools recently welcomed a new executive chef to its cafeterias and he’s already got some fresh ideas. Chef Isaiah Ruffin wants more vegetarian options on the menu, less sodium in the lunch items, and about 80 percent of the ingredients to be locally sourced.” [WDVM]
Local Cop Dedicated to Helping the Homeless — “In Alexandria, Officer Bennie Evans goes far beyond the call of duty to work with the homeless — often using his time and money to help — with the goal of building a stronger community altogether. ABC7 joined him on an autumn day at Alexandria’s Meade Memorial Episcopal Church as Evan cooked up lunch for more than a hundred people.” [ABC 7]
Reminder: Weekend Events — A number of significant events are taking place in Alexandria this weekend, including the Alexandria Cider Festival, the holiday tree lighting in Old Town, and the inaugural Alexandria Makers Market at Port City Brewing.