Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

Imagine you and your children are forced to leave your home because of domestic abuse by an intimate partner or other family member. What would you take with you? Where would you go? How would you find a safe place? Who would you turn to for advice and assistance?

Domestic violence often forces women and their children to flee their home, with little notice or preparation, to escape their abusers. Those fortunate enough to rely on relatives or friends for shelter are the lucky ones; without a support group, the default may be a car — for eating and sleeping, for days or weeks.

The chronic lack of shelter beds for victims of domestic violence is a community challenge that requires action by public and private entities alike.

A long-waited ribbon-cutting last week will add short-term accommodations for six families afflicted by domestic violence. The non-profit Bethany House of Northern Virginia (BHNV) was founded by Mason District resident Doris Ward more than 30 years ago.

In the intervening years, BHNV has been providing emergency housing, food, transportation, and counseling for domestic violence victims at houses owned and operated by the non-profit (log on to www.bethany.org to learn more about how you can support the work of BHNV).

A longtime dream was realized last Thursday, when the latest BHNV project was celebrated by the partnership that gutted a 1950s brick and frame rambler that had been operating as a shelter for many years, with most neighbors unaware of the serious mission of BHNV.

The suburban property was reconfigured to accommodate seven bedrooms, including one for the on-site house manager, but still resembles the original residential structure. The only hints to new construction are the handsomely painted brick, conversion of the garage to living space, and an ADA access ramp behind a privacy fence.

The new facility was redesigned for ADA compliance throughout the home; a partnership of HomeAid Northern Virginia, Toll Brothers, Van Metre Homes, and a host of trade partners provided nearly $250,000 in savings to BHNV for the renovation. The house, to be named Doris II, will welcome its first residents in early August.

The non-partisan Virginia Redistricting Commission will hold a public hearing about drawing fair and representative state delegate and senate boundaries, as well as Congressional district maps, on Tuesday, July 27, at 4 p.m., at George Mason University in Fairfax. The hearing will be held in Dewberry Hall at the Johnson Center. The public hearing is designed to receive testimony, both in-person and virtually, from the public.

Log on to www.onevirginia2021foundation.org for more information. You must register in advance to testify virtually; you can sign up at the hearing location from 3 – 5 p.m. on July 27.

Census data is expected to be released in mid-August; the Commission will have 45 days from the date of the release of the 2020 numbers to draw legislative maps, get additional public comment, and submit them to the General Assembly for approval.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has appointed a 20-person citizen reapportionment committee to make recommendations about redrawing magisterial district boundaries.

Local boundary changes are a county responsibility and are not governed by the Virginia Commission. The citizen committee will meet in late summer, with recommendations anticipated later in the year.

Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]