Office to Prevent and End Homelessness

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, Monday - Friday

703-324-9492
TTY 711

12011 Government Center Parkway, Suite 942
Fairfax, VA 22035

Thomas Barnett,
Director

Hypothermia Prevention Program

Since 2015, the Hypothermia Prevention Program has prevented death and serious injuries among Fairfax County most vulnerable residents by ensuring that no one must sleep outside during the winter months. The program provides warm shelter, food, and other supportive services to connect guests to a variety of basic needs to include clothing, employment, housing and more.

Hypothermia Warning Signs

WHAT IS HYPOTHERMIA?

While many individuals who are experiencing homelessness may have access to warm, safe accommodations through friends, family and other programs and services, nearly 1,200 residents remain unsheltered and exposed to the harsh and dangerously cold winter weather. Last year, the Hypothermia Prevention Program served an average of 215 guests per night.

The Hypothermia Prevention Program will be in operation 24-hours a day, seven days a week, from December 1, 2020 through April 1, 2021.

COVID-19 Changes Things a Little

The Challenges

In years past, the Hypothermia Prevention Program hosted shelters at a variety of houses of worship – many of which are currently closed or operating under reduced occupancy – which were staffed by a strong team of staff and community volunteers. Due to COVID-19, the County is facing some significant challenges when it comes to effectively and safely serving individuals who need assistance. The challenges presented in two critical categories:

  1. We need more space.  The COVID-19 pandemic poses significant health risks, especially for older adults and people with prior health conditions. To mitigate the spread of the virus, emergency shelters need to allow for greater social distancing (approximately 100 square feet per guest), so the virus is not transmitted among guests. Staff estimates that each location can anticipate hosting an average of between 40 and 70 guests per night. Unfortunately, the churches and other houses of worship that typically host the hypothermia prevention shelter are too small to allow for social distancing. 
     
  2. We need more staff.  In years past, we have had significant contributions from volunteering area faith communities. Many of these volunteers are unable to commit to volunteer this year because many are older adults and have a higher risk of serious illness if infected with the COVID-19 virus. 
     

The Solution

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance approving temporary County-operated hypothermia prevention shelters and authorized a streamlined process for approving temporary use modifications to enable these buildings to serve as hypothermia prevention shelters.  Opening these temporary County-operated shelters will enhance the program’s:

  1. Safety –  by providing sufficient space for social distancing among guests and additional staff to manage facility operations.
     
  2. Capacity – by ensuring enough space to shelter the 215 guests per night (experienced last year) with additional space to shelter more if it is needed.
     
  3. Stability – by providing hosting the hypothermia prevention shelters in the same location all season long rather than rotating among various hosting sites.

Staff have reviewed a number of locations throughout the county to determine their suitability to serve as shelter locations. To be considered, sites needed to have sufficient space to host the estimated number of shelter guests; meet required fire and building code standards to allow for overnight sleeping on-site; and that they are publicly owned and expected to be underutilized during the winter season (December 1 – April 1). The following sites have been identified for possible use:

  • Gerry Hyland Government Center
    (8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, VA 22309)
  • Lincolnia Senior Center
    (4710 N Chambliss Street, Alexandria, VA 22312)
  • North County Human Services Building
    (1850 Cameron Glen Drive, Reston, VA 20190)
  • Braddock Glen Wellness Center
    (4027-B Olley Lane, Fairfax, VA 22032)
  • Fairfax County Government Center
    (12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035)
  • Pennino Building
    (12011 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035)
  • Herrity Building
    (12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035)
  • Former Container Store*
    (8508 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA 22182)

* The Former Container Story was added to this list of identified possible sites on October 23. The addition of this location will be taken up by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at their November 17 meeting.

Health Protocols

A critical priority for this program is to ensure the health and safety of the guests, volunteers, staff and surrounding community while this hypothermia prevention shelter location is in operation. To that end, this site will be staffed 24-hours a day, seven days a week and staff will be implementing a number of health and safety protocols as advised by local health officials, including:

  • Social distancing
  • Wearing face coverings
  • Frequent cleaning and sanitizing of commonly touched surfaces 
  • Operating separate hotel accommodations for quarantining guests who are symptomatic and/or test positive for the COVID-19 virus

Safety Protocols

Fairfax County is also taking measures to ensure the security of each location and maintain general public safety:

  • In addition to nonprofit shelter staff, professional security guards will be present to monitor the site 24-hours a day, seven days a week
  • Guests will be responsible for maintaining a basic set of rules to promote a healthy and safe environment – both inside and outside of the building – for themselves and for other guests
  • Guests are instructed not to loiter outside of the building or create disruptions in the neighborhood
  • With the increased hours of occupancy in these facilities, staff are also coordinating with the appropriate public safety authorities.

HYPOTHERMIA PREVENTION SHELTER LOCATIONS - PROPOSED

Hypothermia Prevention Shelter Sleeping AreaThe following sites have been identified for possible use:

  • Gerry Hyland Government Center
    (8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, VA 22309)
  • Lincolnia Senior Center
    (4710 N Chambliss Street, Alexandria, VA 22312)
  • North County Human Services Building
    (1850 Cameron Glen Drive, Reston, VA 20190)
  • Braddock Glen Wellness Center
    (4027-B Olley Lane, Fairfax, VA 22032)
  • Fairfax County Government Center
    (12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035)
  • Pennino Building
    (12011 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035)
  • Herrity Building
    (12055 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035)
  • Former Container Store*
    (8508 Leesburg Pike, Vienna, VA 22182)

* The Former Container Story was added to this list of identified possible sites on October 23. The addition of this location will be taken up by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at their November 17 meeting.
 

PUBLIC HEARING SCHEDULED

A Public Hearing is scheduled for November 17 to receive public comment on the proposed Hypothermia Prevention Program for FY 2020. Those wishing to testify may sign up or submit comments by contacting the Department of Clerk Services at 703-324-3151, TTY 711, or my emailing ClerktotheBOS@fairfaxcounty.gov

SEE SOMEONE IN NEED?

If you see someone who is unsheltered ad you think they are at risk of hypothermia, 
call the County’s non-emergency Police phone number

703-691-2131
TTY 711

A police officer will respond and conduct a wellness check. 
If you see an individual in distress, please call 9-1-1.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT HYPOTHERMIA SHELTERS
 

CONTACT US

Questions or concerns related to the Hypothermia Prevention Program can be directed to the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness at 703-324-9492, TTY 711, or by email at OPEHGeneralMail@fairfaxcounty.gov

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