VIRGINIA

Neighbors petition against move of emergency homeless shelter

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Arlington County officials want to move an emergency homeless shelter one block down the street and vastly expand services offered to the county's 300 adults who live on the streets.

But some neighbors are petitioning to stop the move, worried it will bring panhandling, crime and loitering to their front door.

"It's going to be a much different feeling for people when they're out, particularly at night, if they always feel they have to look over their shoulder," said Jeffrey Miller, an Arlington resident.

Miller lives at Woodbury Heights, a condominium building in Courthouse. He's been a resident there for 20 years.

"Are you going to be harassed? Are you going to be panhandled? Are you going to be subjected to people who are doing inappropriate things, either swearing or relieving themselves?" Miller said.

The move into the Courthouse office building would allow the Center to be open year-round and expand services to help Arlington's homeless find permanent work and shelter.

While neighbors fear it would bring more homeless to their doorstep, A-Span's executive director said it will keep more people off the streets.

"When you have something that's open 24/7, they can just enter," Kathy Sibert said. "There won't be any loitering or lining up outside which will be great.

On Tuesday, supporters and opponents to the move voiced their opinions at a public hearing before the Arlington Board.

Sibert said she understands the neighbors' concerns.

"It's not a question of should you have these services," Miller said. "It's a question of where is the best location for it?"

 

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