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New federal budget funds Fairfax County homeless shelter, pedestrian projects

Fairfax County’s existing Patrick Henry Family Shelter (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) Congress has passed another short-term budget package, averting a partial shutdown of the federal government just hours before a midnight deadline.

In addition to funding the Justice Department, Housing and Urban Development, and other key agencies, the slate of bills passed 75-22 by the Senate on Friday (March 8) includes $12.7 billion in “pork” — money designated for local projects requested by lawmakers for their constituents.

In a joint press release, Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner announced that Fairfax County and other Virginia localities will be among the beneficiaries of the more than 6,600 projects that got funding, per the Associated Press.

“I’m proud that we secured funding for 105 community projects across Virginia that will improve transportation, upgrade water infrastructure, support health care, and more,” Kaine said. “I urge Congress to take up the rest of the government funding bills as soon as possible.”

According to breakdowns provided by Warner’s and Rep. Gerry Connolly’s offices, the biggest allocation for Fairfax County is $4.1 million “to fund a new homeless and domestic violence shelter for families.”

The county’s existing domestic violence and family shelters have exceeded their useful lives, but instead of building new facilities, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority is planning to convert an existing “extended stay” hotel that will be able to house about 50 families a day.

“Site acquisition activities are ongoing, with the goal of securing a location that is well-served by transit, and close to jobs and services,” FCRHA spokesperson Allyson Pearce said.

Connolly’s office says the site “will entail combining rooms, creating service and office space, and other changes to the existing hotel setup,” noting that converting an existing building instead of constructing a new one will enable the county “to deliver this essential, brand new facility years earlier than might otherwise be accomplished.”

The county has two shelters specifically for people fleeing domestic violence — Artemis House and Bethany House — and two shelters that accommodate people with children — the Katherine Hanley shelter outside Centreville and the Patrick Henry shelter in Seven Corners.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved plans in August 2022 to replace the Patrick Henry shelter with supportive housing after some delays related to land acquisition challenges.

The appropriations package also includes funding for several road and pedestrian projects:

  • Spring Street widening from four to six lanes between Herndon Parkway and Fairfax County Parkway ($1 million)
  • Fox Mill Road and Pinecrest Road intersection improvements in Herndon ($850,000)
  • Silverbrook Road and Lorton Road intersection improvements ($850,000)
  • Sidewalk on Ninian Avenue and along Bush Hill Drive to improve safety and accessibility for Bush Hill Elementary School students in Rose Hill ($850,000)
  • Gunston Road shared-use path from Julia Taft Way to the Pohick Bay Golf Course entrance in Lorton ($500,000)
  • Compton Road bicycle and pedestrian path from the Bull Run Special Events Center access road to the Cub Run Stream Valley Trail in Centreville ($500,000)
  • Stone Road trail from the I-66 interchange to an existing trail along southbound Route 28 in Centreville ($500,000)

The Fairfax County Department of Transportation applied for federal grants last summer to fund the Bush Hill and Compton Road projects.

Funds were also secured for sewer rehabilitation ($850,000), an early childhood center as part of the planned redevelopment of the Original Mount Vernon High School ($1 million), and Capital Area Food Bank’s warehouse expansion ($1 million), which is currently under construction in Newington.

The federal budget also gives $853,000 to a statewide “police-referred mediation” program run by Resolution Virginia, a consortium of nonprofits that includes an affiliated center in Fairfax City.

According to Resolution Virginia Executive Director Christine Poulson, most police calls don’t involve a committed crime, but police are given limited options for handling conflicts. The mediation program offers an alternative to the traditional court system, providing mediators and coaches who “work with disputants to get to the bottom of a dispute and resolve it for good.”

“We are so pleased to be able to offer people in Virginia a non-court, non-police option for dispute resolution,” Poulson said.

The approved budget package will keep some federal agencies funded for the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30. However, another six spending bills, including one for the military, needs to be approved by March 22 to sustain the rest of the federal government, the Associated Press reported.

Image via Google Maps

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