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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Strong security measures proposed for homeless shelter

A temporarily homeless shelter would be installed on this field at the rear of the Lincolnia Senior Center.
A consultant hired by Fairfax County to assess the security needs of the Lincolnia Senior Center and the relocated Bailey’s homeless shelter calls for surveillance cameras, armed security guards, and metal detectors.

The county is proposing to temporarily move the the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter from Moncure Avenue to a modular structure in a field bordered by the Lincolnia Senior Center, the Stonegate at Landmark townhouses, the Charleston Square townhouses, and the Arbor Park of Alexandria apartments.

The Bailey’s shelter has to be relocated by March 2017 to make way for a 375-unit apartment building to be developed by AvalonBay as part of the Southeast Quadrant revitalization project. County officials told residents they plan to move the shelter for about four or five years to the field on N. Chambliss Street in Lincolnia while they continue to search for a suitable, permanent site.

The draft “Facility Security Assessment,” by Mark Williams of New Horizon Security Services, can be found on the “Stop the Shelter” website, created by Lincolnia residents who don’t want the shelter moved to their neighborhood. That site also has the “2232 Public Facility Application Review” by the Public Private Partnerships Branch of the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services describing the temporarily shelter facility.

Safety and crime are among neighborhood residents’ most frequently cited complaints about the shelter relocation plan. At recent community meetings, neighbors expressed concerns about children playing outside near vagrants, homeless people using drugs and alcohol near their homes, homeless people getting into the senior center, and the potential for crime. 

“Security must be a priority,” the New Horizon report states. “The elderly are a very fragile population and homeless shelters carry the stigma of crime and nuisance behaviors.” The report recommends security measures for both the shelter and senior center costing a total of $150,650 for such things as:
  • Five exterior and four interior surveillance cameras at the Lincolnia Senior Center and nine exterior and seven interior cameras at the homeless shelter.
  • Six duress alarms – to protect staff from possible harm – including three each at the senior center and shelter.
  • A burglar alarm system at the senior center.
  • A more secure entry system for both facilities, including electronic locks, complete building lockdown, a new proxy card reader system, and convex mirrors.
  • A six-foot chain-link fence around the shelter.
  • An armed security guard at the shelter.
  • A walk-through magnetometer for the shelter.
  • Improved lighting systems for both facilities, including LED lights in the parking lots.
The report also recommends mandatory training for all employees on crime reporting, personal protection, how to deal with difficult people, and workplace violence.

To address concerns about vagrants wandering in the neighborhood, the report recommends designating an area for homeless clients to gather outside, strict enforcement of curfews, and restrict access to the shelter to people with business at the shelter.

The report recommends shelter staff track all problems, such as clients wandering away from the site and homeless people knocking on neighborhood doors, and check client records for warrants, orders of protection, and trespass orders.

The report proposes having the shelter invite community members, business owners, and shelter residents to quarterly meetings.


  1. This report, although incomplete, is the first acknowledgement of the fundamental incompatibility of a homeless shelter being co-located at the Senior Center. Only a complete lockdown of both facilities can possibly provide security but at the cost of quality of life for our Seniors. This is why "best practices' typically require offsets of a 1000 feet or more between these populations.

  2. They did not address the homeless wandering the neighborhood during the day when they are kicked out of the shelter. They also did not address the homeless that came late for curfew are turned away and where are they going to sleep (the neighborhood). This report is a start but not complete.

  3. why doesn't the Bailey's one have all this security?

  4. Why is this Penny's project anyway? Aren't the homeless a county concern? This shelter doesn't need to be in Mason District. It needs to be in an appropriate location where it can best serve the homeless and the residents of Fairfax County.

  5. County staff identified a location that follows best practices guidelines. It is in an industrial center, but not in Mason District.

    Supervisor Gross is adamant that the shelter be in Mason District. Why? Why isn't she more concerned that the best possible solution be identified, regardless?

    Supervisor Gross seems to have her own personal agenda. It doesn't seem to matter what her constituents want/need or what's good for the homeless.

    1. That, or, she has agreed to keep the shelter in Mason District so as not to cause friction with the other County Supervisors. We all know that practically nobody wants these shelters in their area! Mason District, being the District with some of the oldest infrastructure, probably has to accept the shelters so as to negotiate for the County's scarce redevelopment dollars. If Penny wants to get County money to redevelop Bailey's Crossroads, she probably had to agree to keep the shelter in Mason District. Placing the blame entirely on her is probably not true to reality.

    2. So we now have an official -- albeit indirect -- acknowledgement that homeless shelters attract crime to their vicinity. I am glad the County at least recognizes the fact. But what about the NEIGHBORHOODS adjacent to the Sr. Center??? Who's going to mitigate the impact on THEM? The Security Assessment screams, "This is a bad place for a homeless shelter!" Can the County not hear that? The proposed shelter would put elderly folks at risk, and would devastate the sense of well-being and the property values of the homeowners that would have to live adjacent to it.

    3. "Supervisor Gross seems to have her own personal agenda"

      Have you been under a rock the past few years?

  6. This is a LOT of money to pay for security for a TEMPORARY shelter. Would make better economic sense to just find a better location for it.

    But what do I know....

  7. To Anonymous 4/25/16, 12:22 PM

    I think Penny wants her $125M East County Government Center in Bailey's Southeast Quadrant and she needs to justify it.

    Keeping a shelter in Mason District, especially Bailey's, is likely key to her pushing this through.

  8. As a long time volunteer at the Adult Day Health Care Center I am heart sick to think that because of this proposal we would have to lock down the Senior Center, this wonderful community asset and patrol it with armed guards. The Senior Residence is HOME to more than a hundred of our frail vulnerable elderly who in reality have no where else to go. How can we in good conscience do this to them. They will no longer feel safe to work in their community garden, sit on a bench in the sun, or take a walk around the open green lawn. There is no way to put a price on this.

  9. Come on Fairfax County.....if you need to put a senior center in lockdown in order to accommodate a homeless shelter, you've got a BAD relocation plan - and you know it!!!

  10. The Board of Supervisors still has time to do the right thing and back out of this proposal. They can save face by acknowledging that the security issues and community concerns were greater than they first imagined, and they can seek out an appropriate location. As has already been mentioned in comments to other articles on this proposal in this blog, there is COUNTY-OWNED, VACANT land in the I-5 industrial zone (Parcel No. 0802 01 0024) at the south end of MASON DISTRICT -- LARGER than the Lincolnia site -- close to PUBLIC TRANSIT, close to a variety of industrial and commercial JOBS, already served by water and sewer, and NOT next to a senior center or residential area. That land could EASILY accommodate this shelter -- temporarily or permanently -- with NONE of the controversy. Is the Lincolnia site really the best option?