Thank you for “County Eyes Spot for New Fire Station and Affordable Housing” in the July 1 Gazette. We would like to make further points.
The site will include a modern replacement for the Kennedy Shelter, providing housing and services. The current Kennedy Shelter on Fort Belvoir suffers from many inadequacies, cannot be rebuilt, and is in a poor location.
The Beacon Hill site meets all the criteria to serve our unhoused fellow citizens: access to sufficient transportation; near employment and health services; walkable; space for supportive housing, parking; not isolated; properly distanced from schools; already owned; free of hazards.
A caption incorrectly implied that supporters do not live nearby. A main opposition organizer lives more than a mile away. Supporters from closer neighborhoods were present. All of Mount Vernon has a stake. The site decision should be on criteria that best serve the needs of our unhoused neighbors.
Most neighbors are not opposed, but have specific concerns addressable by facts. Police at the meeting made clear that worries about crime in the community are not borne out by calls from or about the Kennedy Shelter. 911 emergency calls are mostly health related; the rest are general disputes contained within the shelter, usually between shelter guests.
Focus on sex offenders exaggerates imagined harm from a handful of homeless people, while in surrounding neighborhoods, four dozen sex offenders already live in homes and apartments.
There is no evidence that property values decrease with a shelter. This neighborhood is up 9% this year per Zillow. Completion of EMBARK will further increase values.
Neighbors’ fears dissipate after a shelter is built. Neighbors can volunteer, support shelter residents, and invest in success. Beacon Hill remains the best site for co-locating the fire station, shelter, and supportive housing.
For Kennedy Shelter Allies