September 14, 2010    Hon. Robert F. McDonnell  Office of the Governor  Patrick Henry Building, Third Floor  1111 East Broad Street  Richmond, VA 23219                      Dear Governor McDonnell: 










Re:  Homeless Initiatives for 2011 Legislative Session 

I am writing to follow up to your recent visit to the Mondloch House on U.S. 1.  I hope you found  the visit interesting, eye‐opening, and informative.  Both of us grew up in the Mount Vernon Community just off U.S. 1.  Growing up, I always knew  U.S. 1 was different, but until I began knocking doors in the U.S. 1 corridor, I did not truly appreciate the  depth and breadth of the poverty that exists in many parts of our community or the struggles that many  people in my district experience on a daily basis.  At one point during the event, you asked someone where the homeless people live in the  woods.  In terms of my district, between Woodlawn & Alexandria, there are several locations:   There was a homeless camp in 8 acres of woods recently deeded to Fairfax County for a  park behind the property that used to be a K‐Mart, Chuck‐E‐Cheese, Service  Merchandise, next door to the old Duck Pin bowling alley and trailer park in Penn Daw.   About five years ago, the property owner had to file an eviction action so get the police  the authority to remove them from the woods.    There is area behind the Hybla Valley shopping center that was formerly a Zayre &  Thieves’ Market where the homeless tend to camp.    There is a power line right‐of‐way that runs behind the developments (Sequoyah, Seven  Woods, Pinewood Lakes) on the west side of Buckman Road along the border of Huntley  Meadows Park – many people live there.  There are many woods along Little Hunting Creek from near your old house and then  following it west where it goes under U.S. 1 and back along Janna Lee Apartments and  into Huntley Meadows Park. 

   


Many people live in the woods and come out to forage in the dumpsters from U.S. 1’s many  restaurants.  Additionally, I have heard other people tell me that the U.S. 1 corridor in Virginia 

DISTRICT: (571) 249-4484 • RICHMOND: (804) 698-1044 • EMAIL:

frequently serves as a “highway” of sorts that homeless people traverse up and down the east coast due  to the proximity of woods, restaurant dumpsters, and hitchhiking opportunities along the road.    One eye opening moment for me occurred when some of my constituents took me back in the  woods along Quander Creek off U.S. 1 during my campaign for a tour.  I had seen the shopping carts and  trash in other woods before, but it had never occurred to me that people actually permanently lived  there.    After the 2010 Session, I sponsored a community cleanup of Quander Creek and among other  things, we pulled many tents and blankets out of the creek.  There was clear evidence that people had  regularly raided the neighboring Pizza Hut dumpster (Chuck‐E‐Cheese was closed for renovations) and  brought scraps down to eat.  There were dozens of empty beer bottles and other trash strewn through  the woods.  I have enclosed a 2006 Mount Vernon Gazette article regarding a different cleanup of the  same creek that discusses the homeless in the woods and a blogpost I did regarding our cleanup a few  months ago.    Shortly after I was elected, I took the same tour of New Hope that you did.  One man I met  described how he wanted to get a job when he was homeless, but he could not because could not  explain to anyone how to get in touch with him for an interview without a phone or mailing address.  By  giving him a place to live for a few months, some training, and a place for people to contact him, he was  given the support he needed to get back on his feet.  Those kinds of things never occurred to me  because I had never really talked to someone who had been in that position.  As you saw, New Hope Housing is a huge operation.  My delegate seat also has two other large  charities focusing on homelessness and poverty – United Community Ministries and Good Shepherd  Housing – and numerous other churches and charities who help as well.  Unlike most other parts of the  County, charities are some of the largest private employers in my delegate seat after INOVA Hospital  and the Mount Vernon Estate.  Poverty, homelessness, and economic distress is a powerful, but largely  hidden driving force in the part of Fairfax County that you and I grew up in.    During your tour last month, New Hope’s Executive Director, Pam Michell, suggested that  permanent supportive housing is a long‐term solution to homelessness and shared some ideas with you.   First, the state should allow State Shelter Grant (SSG) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families  (TANF) funds to be used for long‐term solutions to homelessness instead of limiting them to shelter and  transitional housing.  Also, the State Department of Housing and the Department of Corrections should  identify how to use current funds for permanent supportive housing and other long‐term solutions to  homelessness.    Additionally, in light of our focus on jobs, as new funds become available for employment  programs, some of those funds should be directed, in part, to people who experience homelessness who  often do work, can work, and want to work.  Providing support for homelessness is not only about  funding housing, but also service dollars for the staff supports needed to help people actually maintain  their new housing once they are transitioned.  As you know from the tour, providing food, shelter, medical care, and mental health  intervention to a homeless person and getting them back on their feet is much cheaper and less  disruptive to our communities than the costs associated with policing, crime, prosecution and  incarceration which can often be secondary outcomes of homelessness.  I have also enclosed a fact  sheet from the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness regarding these issues.   

In light of our common interest in this issue and roots in the Mount Vernon Area, I would be  very interested in working with you and your staff on coming up with some legislative and budget  proposals for the upcoming session consistent with these objectives.    Please let me know if there are any issues we can work together. 
                      Sincerely Yours, 












Delegate Scott A. Surovell  44th District  



 Sen. Linda “Toddy” Puller  Sen. Patsy C. Ticer  Supervisor Gerald Hyland  Supervisor Jeff McKay  Ms. Pam Michell, Executive Director, New Hope Housing  Rev. Kerry Kincannon, Rising Hope United Methodist Church  Ms. Cynthia Hull, Executive Director, United Community Ministries  Mr. Shannon Steene, Executive Director, Good Shepherd Housing  Mr. Dean Klein, Director Homeless Prevention, Fairfax County  Ms. Phyllis Chamberlain, Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness 

Mount Vernon Gazette - The Connection Newspapers

Community members pitch in to clean up maligned Quander Brook.
By By John Teschner/Gazette Thursday, May 04, 2006

Before Spring Bank was inhabited, the features that distinguished it from the forest that surrounded it were the springs that gurgled up from the ground. These springs are the headwaters of a stream that no longer flows uninterrupted past gnarled roots and mossy stones. As development has overtaken the region, the stream has been submerged, piped and channeled beneath parking lots and roads. But, whether above or below-ground, it still flows – past the fire station on Beddoo Street, behind West Potomac High School, beneath Quander Road and past the Ford dealership and the motels on Route 1, finally emptying into Hunting Creek west of Belle Haven Country Club. Martin Tillett said that when he moved into the area in 1981, the stream was already “in a degraded condition.” As far as he knows, no one had ever tried to clean the section of stream behind Chuck E. Cheese, where it still flows through a forest of tall trees; unless you count the homeless people who had set up an encampment on a path near the stream and scavenged what they could from the detritus that was washed by storm water or tossed in by local citizens who viewed the stream as an unofficial dump. Until two years ago, the stream was nameless. This changed when community members who cared about the brook started a resolution that worked its way from the Spring Bank Community Association up to the Board of Supervisors. It was decided the stream should be named for the Quanders, one of the first families in the area. But according to Tillett, who is a co-chair of the Friends of Quander Brook, the Quanders were hesitant about accepting the honor. “People in the community will still say it’s a sewer,” said Tillett. “As long as you think of it that way, that’s what it will be.” SOME COMMUNITY members have decided to change that perception. On a sunny Saturday morning, about two-dozen volunteers, approximately half of whom were from JPI Developers, were strung along the streambed beneath a glowing green canopy of spring leaves. They clambered over log-couch-recliner-jams, used pick-axes to pry loose shopping carts embedded in the sand, gingerly picked up broken bottles, and patiently untangled plastic line from tree-roots exposed by urban storm runoff that has transformed some of the stream’s banks into sheer, 20-foot cliffs. “You always start at the headwaters,” Tillett said, explaining why they had chosen this section of stream to begin their effort. “Our emphasis is on showing initiative from the community and the developer to clean this up,” said Tillett. He added that the county needs to play a role in the rehabilitation of the stream. “There are dozens of streams in the district like this,” he said. The statistics back him up. According to Fairfax County’s Stream Quality Assessment Program, studies from 2004 show that 80 percent of the streams in the county are in “unacceptable” condition. One survey of 30 randomly selected streams showed 63 percent as being in “poor” or “very poor” condition. Tillett trained to be a volunteer biological monitor through the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District so that he could begin monitoring Quander Brook. The results were disappointing. “Essentially the stream shows up as being biologically dead,” he said. The tests measure the density and variety of certain organisms that are considered indicators of stream health, such as macroinvertebrates, crayfish, and insect larvae. He detected only fresh water annelids and fly larvae, organisms that can tolerate low levels of oxygen and polluted water. “The number of organisms we found, and the variety … were statistically insignificant,” said Tillett. He added that after subsequent tests all produced the same result, he stopped monitoring the stream. “There’s nothing there. What’s the point?” THE INITIAL development of the Quander Brook watershed in the 1950’s and 1960’s nearly killed the stream. But new plans for the area may save it. “Essentially what we need is a retrofit,” said Tillett, “as we do the revitalization, that just makes sense.” In order to meet zoning requirements to redevelop the land that now houses Chuck E.

Photo by John Teschner David Dale needed a pick-axe to try to pry up a shopping cart embedded in the sand.

Photo by John Teschner Nancy Roeper and Jim Ernst at work in Quander Brook.

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Mount Vernon Gazette - The Connection Newspapers

Cheese and National Wholesale Liquidators, JPI has agreed to buy the land behind the lot, which includes much of Quander Brook. It plans to preserve this land as a natural area. Tillett said he appreciated the work of the JPI employees who volunteered at the stream clean-up. “They’re trying to win over the community and I’m impressed with what they’ve done,” he said. John Begert, a development manager with JPI, was at work in the creek. He said the volunteers had found “a little bit of everything, a lot of bags, and cans, and beer bottles, and glass, refrigerators, chairs…” He added that if it successful in its bid to redevelop the site, JPI “would undertake a little more extensive clean-up of this area.” He said the JPI volunteers wanted to demonstrate “what we can do in a few hours on a Saturday morning and indicate to the community what we can do if they give us a little more time.” But Paul Phelps, who was also at work in the streambed, cautioned that saving the stream would require more than an effort by the owners of the land. He and several other volunteers were scrambling around a mound of debris that included numerous dead trees as well as over-stuffed sofas, lounge chairs, mattresses, box-springs, carpets, and smaller items. The refuse acts as a dam, forcing the water drained from roads and parking lots to eat into the earth and severely erode the soil. Phelps said much of this debris had been dumped by people in the neighborhood that bordered the stream. From the top of the bank, the stream is thirty feet below, and nearly invisible. “The problem is the people who live next to the stream don’t have a sense of ownership. They think of this as a dumping site,” said Phelps. PHELPS EXPLAINED that in order to clean-up the stream, problem sites like this would have to be identified, and solutions found. But even identifying every individual problem on this stretch of water will not save the stream. “The problem is not just in one place or another place on the watershed. It’s the whole watershed,” said Phelps, who lives in Hollin Hills, and is on the Little Hunting Creek Watershed Committee. Nancy Dale, co-chair of the Friends of Quander Brook, put the day’s stream-cleaning effort into perspective. “[The stream is] really, really in poor shape biologically and ecologically … the clean-up is great … but you might say it’s cosmetic.” Tillett said that cooperation from Lee District would be needed to save the stream. Oil-slicked water from parking lots and storm drains in Lee and Mount Vernon Districts flows into the creek, and no strictly local effort can prevent this. “The volume of water itself is the most destructive force,” Tillett explained. “It’s time for Dana Kauffman and [Lee] District to coordinate on this site. It just doesn’t make sense to do a half-a--ed job.” But Tillett was optimistic that the work begun that day would not end in half-measures. “Maybe one day we’ll get the stream back again to where there’s fish, crayfish, frogs, amphibians, things that should be in the stream.”

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MAY 2010

Permanent Supportive Housing
An Alternative to Hospitalization and Incarceration for People Experiencing Homelessness, Mental Illness and Other Disabilities
RECOMMENDATION: Use existing local, state, and federal resources to provide permanent supportive housing to individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness, mental illness and other disabilities. This brief provides an overview of a prevailing housing and services model that community-based programs and state mental health agencies are employing to address housing instability for people experiencing mental illness.

Average Daily Cost


An Effective Intervention to Reduce Hospitalization
Permanent supportive housing—affordable rental housing with supportive services—has proven itself effective in both housing a population that has multiple barriers to housing and reducing costs to public systems. For this reason, the federal government and several state and local governments have prioritized it as a response to housing instability and homelessness for people experiencing disabilities such as mental illness, substance abuse disorders, and chronic health conditions. This model is often used as a preventive measure. It is also often targeted to people with mental and physical disabilities and/or people who experience chronic or long-term homelessness. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines a chronically homeless person as an unaccompanied homeless individual with a disabling condition who has either been continuously homeless for a year or more or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years. A disabling condition is defined as a diagnosable substance abuse disorder, serious mental illness, developmental disability, or chronic physical illness or disability including AIDS or a disabling condition due to HIV, including the co-occurrence of two or more of these conditions.1

Permanent Supportive Housing

Jail Bed Adult Psychiatric State Hospital


A cost analysis of permanent supportive housing in the Greater Portland area of Maine found: • The average cost of services consumed by participants were cut in half after entry into permanent supportive housing; • After being housed, tenants received 35 percent more mental health services at 41 percent less the cost due to a shift away from expensive emergency and psychiatric inpatient care to less expensive community-based mental health services; • Emergency room costs were reduced by 62 percent; • Health care costs were reduced by 59 percent; • Ambulance transportation costs were reduced by 66 percent; • Incarceration was reduced by 62 percent; • The average annual cost of care savings in the first year was $944 per person and the total annual cost savings was approximately $93,000 for all 99 tenants participating in the study.2

Example from Tennessee

Chart 1: Cost Comparison

Improved Client Outcomes and Cost Savings
Local and national data proves that permanent supportive housing improves client outcomes and reduces costs to public systems. Chart 1 compares the cost of permanent supportive housing—in Virginia Supportive Housing’s A Place To Start program—to jail and hospital use.

87% statewide decrease in re-hospitalization for persons in permanent supportive housing
The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities determined that it needed to take primary responsibility to ensure adequate housing options for people with mental illness and co-occurring disorders. The Department launched the “Creating Homes Initiative” (CHI) in 2001 to make housing a priority of local and state mental health agencies (continued)

in serving people experiencing mental illness. CHI’s goal is to improve the opportunity for Tennesseans diagnosed with mental illness and co-occurring disorders to live, thrive, and contribute to their communities in the least-restrictive settings that are consistent with their needs and choices.3 With an initial $2.5 million in funding, CHI has leveraged over $259 million in new federal, state, local and private funds. These dollars have resulted in the development of over 7,200 permanent, safe, affordable, quality housing units for persons with mental illness and co-occurring disorders along a continuum of housing need. CHI housing ranges from group housing with on-site staff and 24 hour care, partially supervised group housing with staff on-site, group homes and residential facilities, permanent supportive housing, private market rental housing, and home ownership. The type of housing for each client is based on an assessment of each individual’s needs. In addition to improving quality of life for consumers, CHI has decreased hospitalization for those in CHI housing by 87 percent.

Living on street or in temporary shelter


Arrested; housed in local jail

Using emergency room and/or hospitalized

Frequent Users of Public Systems
There is a small yet expensive cohort of vulnerable people caught in a tragic spiral of crisis and institutional services - services that represent enormous public expense but achieve few or no positive gains. (Depicted in Chart 2) A small subset of the homeless population bounces between emergency shelter, emergency rooms, hospitals, and jails. For those with criminal backgrounds, stable housing has been shown to reduce recidivism. Data has demonstrated that permanent housing with wrap around services has created a: • 76 percent reduction in days spent in jail / prison in Denver; • 57 percent reduction in the rate of prison incarceration; and


a 30 percent reduction in the rate of jail incarceration among those with mental illness in New York; and • decreased recidivism from 50 percent to 7 percent in Maryland.

Chart 2: Bouncing from expensive system to expensive system
Permanent supportive housing is an evidence based practice for preventing homelessness, hospitalization, and jail and prison recidivism for a subset of the homeless and mentally ill population. Virginia should invest in this resource to provide communitybased housing options for people experiencing mental illness and other disabilities. ◊

1 2 3 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. SuperNOFA for HUD’s Discretionary Programs: Fiscal Year 2007. Washington, DC. Mondello, M., Gass, A., McLaughlin, T., Shore, N. 2007. Cost of Homelessness: Cost Analysis of Permanent Supportive Housing. State of Maine – Greater Portland. Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Division of Recovery Services and Planning. Tennessee Creating Homes Initiative. March 2009.

Corporation for Supportive Housing, MaineHousing, Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

The Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness is the statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing and ending homelessness in the Commonwealth of Virginia through community collaboration, capacity building, education and advocacy.

The Dixie Pig: Cleaning Up Quander Creek
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SUNDAY, MAY 9, 2010


Cleaning Up Quander Creek
Yesterday, I trekked into the woods with about twelve volunteers to help clean up a creek in my district called Quander Brook. There is a map of Quander Brook to the right. It starts as three streams originating from the Old Quander Farm (West Potomac High School), and two branches in the Fairview Neighborhood that join near the JPG Rosenfeld property (Chuck E. Cheese) and then parallels U.S. 1 down to Great Hunting Creek.

Photo Courtesy of Greg Willis

The segment of the stream we cleaned up, also runs through 8.5 acres that was recently donated to Fairfax County by the Fairchild Family for use as a County Park. This stream has a number of problems that this service project was useful to highlight:
 

Del. Surovell's Main Website Del. Surovell's 2010 Legislation Del. Surovell's Biography

Excessive storm water erosion damage and loss of biodiversity. Significant trash contamination.


Search The short version is that this creek parallels many restaurants and properties that do not control their trash. The forest behind these properties is littered with boxes, beverage containers, and food wrappers that all wash into the woods and eventually the creek. The 1950's-era storm water facilities also basically sweep up all kinds of trash from U.S. 1 and neighboring parking lots directly into the

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The Dixie Pig: Cleaning Up Quander Creek
creek. When coupled with massive storm water flows, the creeks suffers from massive erosion problems caused by large water flows and "trash dams" that form in the creek. All of this eventually washes into the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. All of this leads to zero biodiversity. I did not see one bug, crawfish, fish, turtle, frog or any sign of life in this stream. The closest thing we found was a porcelain frog. I will write a broader article for our local papers this week about it that I will post upon publication, but the problems with this property can be fixed through a number of issues. The cleanup was a terrific success. We gathered two pickup trucks full of trash including 13 tires, a stereo, 3 tents, several blankets, a dryer top, a vacuum cleaner, a porcelain frog, about 1000 feet of "Caution Tape," and about 40 bags worth of plastic and beverage containers. Here are some pictures. Thank you to JBG Rosenfeld for allowing us to access the property from their property and for providing us with a large dumpster for the trash and trash bags. Also thanks to community leaders Martin Tillett and David Dale who led our trek into the woods and gave us a tour of the property we did our work.
   

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hitting the Mt. Vernon Democratic Comm. Ice Cream Social from 2-5 today & Skins-Dallas tonight keeping my fingers crossed. about 2
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The Dixie Pig: Cleaning Up Quander Creek
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Chris Scoville said... awesome !!! that's my old back yard :) MAY 13, 2010 3:12 PM



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