Deadline to Update Metro Fare Card Looms — “Starting March 1, fare cards issued before 2012 will not function throughout the transit system because Metro upgraded fare gates at most stations that don’t sync with older cards. The transit agency for nearly a year has tried to notify owners of the older cards, but few have switched as ridership hovers at historically low levels.” [The Washington Post]
Tysons Corner Center Celebrates Lunar New Year — The mall partnered with the Asian American Chamber of Commerce to host a Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday (Feb. 5). Traditional musical and dance performances by local groups ushered in the year of the tiger, which began on Feb. 1. [WDVM]
Stolen Vehicle Found in McLean — A 19-year-old Maryland resident was arrested for grand larceny on Jan. 28 after a Fairfax County police officer stopped his 2021 Toyota Corolla on the George Washington Parkway at I-495 around 2:03 p.m. The vehicle had been reported stolen from a nearby jurisdiction. [FCPD]
Fairfax County Introduces Hope Cards — “Fairfax County has joined more than five dozen jurisdictions in Virginia in offering the Hope Card program — a way to enforce a civil protective order and a handy resource for victims of family abuse. A Hope Card is an easy to read and carry laminated, wallet-sized card that contains all the essential information of an existing, permanent civil protection order.” [Fairfax County Government]
Vienna Opens Registration for Spring Classes — “Spring Class registration begins Monday for Town residents and Feb. 14 for people who live outside the Vienna town limits. Check out the Vienna Parks and Recreation program guide now.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]
Drop in Domestic Violence Cases Could Be Misleading — “Fairfax County Police data obtained by WTOP showed domestic violence decreased by roughly 190 cases each year since 2019. However, Saly Fayez, who oversees its victim services division, said it’s likely because the crime is underreported…Fayez said the pandemic kept victims from reporting, skewed the data, and gave abusers another tool of control.” [WTOP]
Fish Die-Off Reported in Chantilly Area — “We have received reports of a fish die-off in Rocky Run in the Greenbriar area. Fairfax County Stormwater Management the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, which investigates such incidents, have been notified. Our thanks to those who have reported the issue to us.” [Fairfax County Park Authority/Twitter]
MCA Wants to Keep McLean Together With Redistricting — “The Greater McLean area should be kept intact when new Fairfax County magisterial districts are redrawn, according to a Sept. 18 letter from the McLean Citizens Association to the 2021 Fairfax County Redistricting Advisory Committee…MCA’s membership area includes not only McLean, but also portions of Tysons, Falls Church and Great Falls.” [Sun Gazette]
Health Department Launches Literacy Initiative — “The Fairfax County Health Department has begun a new initiative to improve health literacy among local African-American, African and Hispanic communities. Named ‘Stronger Partnership, Stronger Community: Using Health Literacy to Increase Resilience (Stronger2),’ the program seeks to improve health outcomes by cultivating an individual’s ability to find, understand and use health information and services in a manner that is culturally and linguistically appropriate.” [FCHD]
Virginia Requires Vaccinations for All State Workers — About 122,000 state employees must show proof that they have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 1 or undergo weekly testing with proof of a negative result, Gov. Ralph Northam said yesterday (Thursday). Noting that 98% of COVID hospitalizations since January have been unvaccinated people, he encouraged local governments and businesses to adopt similar mandates. [Office of the Governor]
Woman Shot by Fairfax County Police Officer Charged — “Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis on Thursday released body-camera video of the July police shooting of a resident of a group home for the intellectually disabled…Police identified the woman who was shot as 30-year-old Jiyoung Lee of Springfield. Lee, who was later charged with assault on an officer, was taken to the hospital following the shooting and is still recovering.” [The Washington Post]
County Prosecutor Launches New Specialized Units — Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced on Tuesday (Aug. 4) that his office has established two new teams that will focus exclusively on domestic violence cases and crimes against children. The units will consist of 15 new prosecutors who will all be trained in working with victims of trauma. [WTOP]
Capital One Hall to Hold Job Fair — Scheduled to open on Oct. 2, Capital One Hall (7750 Capital One Tower Road) in Tysons will hold a job fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5-8 p.m. on Tuesday (Aug. 10) as the performance venue prepares for its inaugural season. Available positions include bartenders, cooks, banquet servers, dishwashers, security, audiovisual technicians, and more. [Capital One Hall/Twitter]
Thanks to federal relief funding, Fairfax County is getting an infusion of emergency housing voucher money to help people who are at risk of homelessness or fleeing from domestic violence and others in need.
The American Rescue Plan Act signed into law in March is providing $10 billion to address homelessness, including 70,000 vouchers to local housing authorities, including Fairfax County.
The county will partner with community groups to provide the housing assistance, which could last 10 years — the length of the program — for each recipient.
“We are very grateful to receive these Emergency Housing Vouchers to serve many of our most vulnerable residents and neighbors and help them achieve safe and stable housing,” Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority Chair C. Melissa McKenna, who serves as the Dranesville District commissioner, said in a statement.
The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority approved a county framework last Thursday (July 15) to receive the money, which involves 169 vouchers that will be made available in coming weeks.
Recipients will need to be referred to the program by county case managers or other service points, such as homeless services, Coordinated Services Planning (703-222-0880), or the Domestic and Sexual Violence 24-Hour Hotline (703-360-7273).
Money will go to landlords, and recipients will be required to pay 30% of their income toward rent and utilities.
The emergency housing vouchers can cover a variety of costs, including security deposits, moving expenses, and essential household items such as bedding and tableware.
Even outside the vouchers, ARPA has dedicated billions of dollars to addressing housing issues, as people have struggled to pay rent amid statewide shutdowns last year and uncertain employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The need to provide housing assistance is expected to become especially urgent in the coming months after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium expires on July 31.
“The [assistance is] designed to prevent and respond to [the] coronavirus by facilitation the leasing of the [emergency housing vouchers], which will provide vulnerable individuals and families a much safer housing environment to minimize the risk of coronavirus exposure or spread,” Dominique Blom, a general deputy assistant secretary with the Housing and Urban Development Department, said in a May memo describing the funding.
Vaccinations have helped bring the virus under control, but cases have been rising in Virginia and the U.S. amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant, which is now the source of 83% of all new COVID-19 cases, according to CDC estimates.
“Individuals and families who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness are often living in conditions that significantly increase the risk of exposure to coronavirus in addition to other health risks,” Blom said in the memo.
Eligibility for the vouchers is limited to individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness, at risk of homelessness, or were recently homeless and “for whom providing rental assistance will prevent the family’s homelessness or having high risk of housing instability.”
People fleeing — or attempting to flee — domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking are also eligible for the vouchers.
“These vouchers — in addition to the existing programs and services offered through a robust partnership — offer yet another valuable resource to help position individuals and families on a reliable foundation from which they can achieve their fullest potential,” McKenna said in her statement.
During the first year of the pandemic, homelessness decreased throughout the D.C. region except in Fairfax County, which saw a 17% increase from 1,041 people in 2020 to 1,222 in 2021, and Prince George’s County, which had a 19% increase, according to a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments report.
Fairfax County has attributed the increase to expanded services supported by COVID-19 relief funding.
Local police are bracing for an increase in the number of domestic violence cases now that a stay-at-home order is in effect in Virginia.
The Fairfax County Police Department has seen an “incremental uptick” in domestic violence calls in the county.
“While not an alarming uptick, we’re seeing slightly more than what we experienced prior to three weeks,” Sgt. Greg Bedor told Reston Now.
In the last three weeks, FCPD has received a weekly average of 235 domestic-related calls, data show. Most of the incidents are reported over the weekend on a weekly basis.
The police department is attempting to triage calls by separating people from their homes and conducting interviews over the phone when possible, according to FCPD.
Officers are also making an effort to encourage individuals to turn themselves in if an arrest is warranted.
Although the county’s Domestic Violence Hotline has not seen any increases in reported incidents, county officials are encouraging people to seek help.
They say rising unemployment and the pressure of bounding bills “during the already stressful coronavirus pandemic could lead to an increase in domestic violence.”
“For victims of domestic violence, being home may not be the safest place, particularly as people are financially and emotionally stressed,” said Toni Zollicoffer, Fairfax County’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Services division director. “Victims and survivors of recent sexual and intimate partner violence face unique challenges during this period of extended social distancing and isolation.
Her office offered the following tips:
Call or Text for Help 24/7
Call Fairfax County’s Domestic and Sexual Violence hotline: 703-360-7273, TTY 711. It’s available for help 24-hours a day, every day.
If it’s not safe to talk, text LOVEIS to 22522 to connect with the National Domestic Violence Hotline. You also can online chat with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).
As always, anyone who is in immediate danger should call 9-1-1.
There are actions people can take to prepare, including:
- Be aware of safe rooms with locks and which rooms have doors or windows for quick exit. Discuss these with children and other family members.
- Make a list of safe contacts and emergency resources. Some people find it helpful to hide copies of important documents and safe contacts somewhere outside the home, such as buried in a planter or at a safe neighbor’s home.
- Plan with kids and other family members if you can. Think about their safety options. Think of a place you can go or send other family members in an emergency or long term.
- Arrange daily check-ins or code words with people you trust.
What You Can Do
“If you are concerned about a friend or family member, it’s more important than ever to check in with them,” said Zollicoffer. “For resources or information on ways to assist those you are concerned about, call the Domestic Violence hotline.”
We can all play a role in preventing domestic violence. Encourage people who are experiencing abuse to make a safety plan, call for help and guidance and let them know that the abuse is not their fault. Let them know you are there to listen, help and support them without judgement.
Next week, listeners can tune into another season of the Second Story podcast about homelessness.
The new season will premiere on Tuesday (Oct. 22), featuring stories of young adults and teens who overcame struggles of homelessness and abuse.
In the first episode, listeners will hear from a young woman named Bree who managed to escape an abusive relationship, Abigail Brougher, the podcast’s producer, said.
Second Story is a non-profit organization based out of Vienna that assists young people struggling with issues like homelessness, poverty or domestic issues.
The podcast was started to spread the organization’s message and educate the public on these issues within the community, Brougher said.
Bree’s story was chosen for the season premiere because Brougher said it set the tone for the rest of the season.
Bree took shelter with Second Story as a young mother and was later recruited to speak out about domestic violence on the podcast. Brougher said that Bree was “especially vulnerable” during this time in her life, and hearing her story will help people to acknowledge the issue of domestic violence.
Bree was forced to decide between homelessness or the constant threat of abuse, Brougher said. “It’s fairly common for young mothers to feel like they have to choose.”
Domestic Violence Awareness Month also happens to fall in October and calls attention to the issue that affects everyone, regardless of gender, race or socioeconomic status.
One in four women and one in nine men will be victims of domestic violence in their lives, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
The podcasts tend to be around 30 minutes long, and new episodes will be available for free every Tuesday on Second Story’s website, as well as Spotify and Stitcher.
This season will consist of roughly nine episodes and feature various themes like domestic violence, PTSD and family trauma, Brougher said.
“Giving voice to this issue changes the narrative,” Brougher said.
Photo via Facebook
Mom Has Daughter Arrested for Theft — “A woman living in the 600 block of Gibson Circle, S.W., told Vienna police on Sept. 27 at 12:30 a.m. that her juvenile daughter allegedly had stolen her cell phone and punched a hole in a wall. The resident advised police she wished to pursue charges.” [InsideNova]
Uptick in Sexual Harassment Reports at FCPS — “The 2017-2018 Fairfax County Youth Survey found that 14.2 percent of students reported being sexually harassed in the past year, an increase of a full percentage point from the 13.2 percent in the survey issued during the 2016-2017 school year. Female students are three times more likely than male students to report experiencing sexual harassment as 20.8 percent of girls said they had been harassed compared to 7.3 percent of boys.” [Fairfax County Times]
Hurricane Michael Could Soak Region — The remnants of Hurricane Michael, which is on a collision course with the Florida panhandle, could bring an inch or so of rain to Fairfax County between late Wednesday night and Friday. [Capital Weather Gang]
Tysons Firm Announces Merger — Tysons-based Telarix Inc. last week “announced its merger with Starhome Mach, the leading global provider of SaaS wholesale and retail roaming, clearing, settlement and fraud prevention solutions.” The combined company will be headquartered in Tysons. [Starhome Mach]
Domestic Violence Awareness Month in FFX — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Fairfax County held an event to remind residents to “make the call to end domestic violence.” The county’s 24-hour domestic and sexual violence hotline is 703-360-7273. [YouTube]