Point-in-Time Homelessness Count Up in Arlington

Published on May 12, 2017

  • Count up by 54 from 2016

  • Number of County homeless cut by more than half since 2008

  • Number experiencing homelessness drops 9 percent regionally

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) has released its 2017 report on homelessness for the region, showing a nine percent decline in homelessness. While Arlington has shown a significant decrease in numbers since 2013, it saw a slight rise in 2017.

Arlington's 2017 Point in Time Count, conducted in January, showed an increase from 174 people in 2016 to 232 in 2017. The number of people in families who were homeless increased from 50 to 85. The number of single individuals who were homeless increased from 124 to 147.

"We believe that the increase in Arlington's numbers this year do not reflect the long-term trend in our County," said Arlington County Board Vice Chair Katie Cristol. "Since 2008, when we launched the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, Arlington has cut its number of homeless persons by more than half. We've made great strides in housing veterans and chronically homeless individuals and families," she said. "We have a strong continuum of care, which includes County programs and community partners and supports our goal of ensuring that every individual and family in Arlington should have access to decent, affordable housing."

Cristol, who is the Board liaison to the County's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness effort, said she was encouraged by the decline in homelessness regionally. "That decline was achieved through programs like shelter diversion and homelessness prevention, which have been drivers of our success here in Arlington. At the same time, the regional data highlights our greatest challenge: the need to increase the supply of affordable housing available to the lowest-income households."

Long-Term trend

Arlington County attributes the drop in the number of persons experiencing homelessness in the County since 2013 to a number of factors. Among them are the County's successful effort to build on the lessons learned from participation in the 100 Homes campaign and the nationwide Zero: 2016 campaign, which set goals to end veteran homelessness by December 2015 and chronic homelessness by December 2016.

Arlington's Homeless Services Center, opened in 2015, continues to bolster efforts to house veterans and chronically homeless individuals. The County's eviction and homelessness prevention services, diversion services to keep people from entering the emergency shelter system, and a continuation of the Housing First model are other critical services that have helped reduce both single adults and families experiencing homelessness. Housing First emphasizes moving households into permanent housing as quickly as possible, and then providing supports as needed.

Moving forward

The County is in year eight of its 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. Over the last year the Arlington continuum of care has continued to review, evaluate, and improve systems and programs, and has started a process to develop a new strategic plan as a successor to the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness.

About MWCOG's annual report

"Homelessness in Metropolitan Washington: Results and Analysis from the Annual Point-in-Time (PIT) Count of Persons Experiencing Homelessness" is MWCOG's annual report on homelessness in the region. While the point-in-time count provides an important snapshot of regional homelessness, Arlington's continuum of care partners use a number of other methods to track homelessness in the community. Detailed information and analysis is available in the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness Annual Report.