Plan to Relocate Fairfax County Homeless Shelter Raises Concerns

Originally published by NBC Washington in May 2016.

Fairfax County officials are planning to temporarily move a homeless shelter to the Alexandria section of the county — but residents are worried the shelter will be there to stay.

Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter has served the homeless for close to 30 years at its current location off Columbia Pike. Now, newly financed apartment buildings are forcing the shelter out, and the county has a $2.1 million plan to temporarily move the shelter to an open plot of land between two subdivisions in the Lincolnia neighborhood.

“This is not good,” said Debby Fraser, who lives in the Lincolnia area.

Fraser said she’s worried about the senior citizens who visit and live in the Adult Day Health Center, which adjoins the proposed site of the shelter, on Shackelford Terrace.

“It’s not good for the homeless. It’s not good for the seniors,” she said.

Kathy Hoyt, who volunteers at the health center, said she fears overcrowding at the shelter, which she also worries will not be temporary.

“They need to find a permanent place for this shelter,” she said.

But finding a new long-term location for the shelter has not been easy, according to Penelope Gross, a supervisor in Mason District, where the proposed plot of land is located.

“I would rather move the shelter once, if I can find a suitable location for that permanent shelter, but so far we haven’t been able to find that permanent site,” she said.

Gross said the current plan for the shelter would allow it to function on that open, suburban land for four to five years. She said if the county finds a permanent location for the shelter after that time, the buildings in the Lincolnia area will be demolished and the land would again be converted to a grassy plot.

But residents are not convinced this timeline proposal will come to fruition.

“If they think six years down the road there’s going to be another parcel of land in Mason District, they got to be kidding themselves,” Fraser said.

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