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Reston Strong marks 100 days of tent protest at North County Government Center

Reston Strong, a local volunteer-run advocacy organization, is commemorating the 100th day of its Neighbors in Tents campaign to address homelessness in Fairfax County.

On Tuesday, the organization marked the 100th day of unhoused residents staying in a temporary tent community in front of the North County Government building. The tents were set up this spring as an alternative after the county’s hypothermia and COVID-19 emergency shelters wound down.

“Tents were not what Reston Strong wanted. They were a temporary solution in the absence of a governmental one,” organizers said.

Organizers say they are still waiting for permanent solutions, including a mobile mental health crisis unit in Reston and changes to the county’s zoning ordinance that would allow temporary transitional housing as a by-right use in empty commercial buildings and spaces.

In a symbolic gesture, the group installed 100 black flags around the center and delivered funeral wreaths with 100 black roses to Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.

Now, with temperatures rising, Reston Strong is asking the county to provide 24-hour cooling centers and access to drinking water for individuals in the temporary tents.

In a statement to FFXnow, Alcorn noted that discussion on the issue has been ongoing for several years.

“This is not a new challenge for Reston and Fairfax County and I am committed to seeking long-term solutions,” Alcorn wrote in a statement.

In April, Alcorn directed the county’s Office to Prevent and End Homelessness to review the current performance of the county and nonprofit service providers. He asked staff to update the county’s homelessness strategies in coordination with the Affordable Housing Advisory Council.

He also set a goal of adding 1,000 affordable housing units in the Hunter Mill District by the end of 2027.

“Everyone in our community, regardless of circumstances, deserved to be treated with respect and humanity,” Reston Strong organizers wrote.

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