The City takes a “continuum of care” approach to homelessness designed to promote community wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness. The Office of Community Services and their partners--which range from other City programs and services to national and local nonprofits like Catholic Charities, Volunteers of America Chesapeake, Carpenter’s Shelter, Community Lodgings and ALIVE!--coordinate together to provide a wide range of services, minimize the trauma associated with homelessness and dislocation, and optimize self-sufficiency among individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
Helping residents experiencing homelessness is complex and challenging. As many different people you encounter who are homeless, there are that many different stories. The causes of homelessness include the national housing crisis and lack of low-income housing, unemployment, decreasing opportunities for work and the erosion of safety net programs. Often people experience the loss of a job or have a health crisis that leaves them choosing between paying the rent or paying for an expensive prescription or medical care. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the national housing crisis, putting many at risk of eviction, foreclosure and homelessness.
Transitioning residents out of homelessness can be a slow process, which sometimes takes years. According to EndHomelessness.org, people experiencing chronic homelessness (those who have experienced homelessness for at least a year) typically have complex and long-term conditions, such as mental health issues, substance use disorders, physical disabilities or other conditions. Once someone becomes homeless, it is difficult for them to get back into housing and they can face long or repeated episodes of homelessness.
DCHS proactively and regularly reaches out and engages residents experiencing homelessness year around, offering the effective and essential safety net services designed to improve their lives and transition them out of homelessness. DCHS values individual personal choice and self-determination and does not force services on anyone, but staff work hard to ensure everyone is aware of the supportive services with the City and their right to access them and transition out of homelessness.
Homeless Services Assessment Center (HSAC)
As part of the City of Alexandria Continuum of Care response to homelessness, HSAC allows for the efficient and effective connection of persons to services through a comprehensive assessment. Additionally, all persons will be assessed for diversion services, creating an opportunity to address the housing crisis with targeted assistance while averting unnecessary entry into the shelter system.
If you are experiencing a housing crisis, call 703.746.5700 or walk in to meet with a member of the HSAC staff.
Department of Community and Human Services
2525 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22303
Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Except holidays)
After hours, families and individuals experiencing a housing crisis and needing emergency overnight stay should contact the Alexandria Community Shelter or Carpenter's Shelter. During the winter months, the Alexandria Winter Collaborative is available.
The City of Alexandria Winter Shelters, also called Hypothermia Shelters, ensures that individuals and families experiencing homelessness have a warm, clean and safe environment to retreat from the elements of weather at night. The Winter Shelters, operated by Carpenter's Shelter, are open daily regardless of weather from November 1 to March 31; hours of operation are 7 p.m. - 7 a.m. The Winter Shelters provide supportive services and resources necessary to assist an resident in obtaining stable housing.
SINGLES: LEE CENTER (1108 JEFFERSON ST.)
This location serves any single adult resident experiencing homelessness from November 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021 regardless of weather. See the FAQs to learn more.
- Hours are 7 p.m. - 7 a.m. daily
- Guests are encouraged to use the pick-up options offered by Carpenter's shelter (see Transportation below)
- If someone is unable or unwilling to utilize the provided transportation, they are welcome to access the Winter Shelter directly starting at 7 p.m.; please enter at the side door on the west side of the building near the loading dock
FAMILIES: CARPENTER'S SHELTER (930 North henry st.)
This location serves families experiencing homelessness from November 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021 regardless of weather.
- Hours are 7 p.m. - 7 a.m. daily
For anyone in need of transportation to the Winter Shelters, Carpenter's Shelter will be providing assistance at three pickup loations:
- 6:20 p.m. at City Hall
- 6:30 p.m. at Braddock Road Metro Station
- 6:40 p.m. Christ House
David's Place Day Shelter
David's Place is located at 930 North Henry Street, the original location of Carpenter’s Shelter. Program hours are 7-9 a.m. Services include:
- Laundry and showers
- Last load at 8:30 a.m.
Individuals seeking emergency shelter are encouraged to go to 2525 Mount Vernon Ave. to complete the screening on a walk-in basis. Phone screening appointments are also available as needed by contacting the call center at 703.746.5700. Once screened, individuals will be added to the wait list and referred once a bed is available at Alexandria Community Shelter or Carpenter's Shelter.
What You Can Do if You Encounter Someone Experiencing Homelessness
If you see someone who looks in need of housing supports, you have a couple of options.
If you have engaged the individual in conversation and learn that they are in need of supportive services, let them know they can call 703.746.5700 or text 703.346.5599 or walk-in for services at 2525 Mount Vernon Ave. during business hours. Staff will support them by identifying the next steps in assisting them with their current situation. Once screened, individuals will be added to the waitlist and referred once a bed is available at Alexandria Community Shelter or Carpenter's Shelter. During the winter months, let them know about the City's Winter Shelter Program run by Carpenter's Shelter (703.548.7500), which is open daily from 7 p.m. - 7 a.m. through March 2021. You can also share with them the Alexandria Community Resources Card, also available as an easy-to-print two-sided flyer.
- If you aren’t comfortable engaging in conversion, contact Alex 311 to report your observations; please refrain from taking photos of residents experiencing homelessness out of respect for their privacy. Your report will be sent to DCHS staff, who will go out and speak to the person within 24-48 business hours and offer available support and resources. DCHS values individual personal choice and does not force services on anyone, but staff work hard to ensure everyone is aware of the supportive services with the City and their right to access them and transition out of homelessness.
- For more immediate welfare checks, call the police non-emergency line at 703.746.4444.
Learn about more ways you can help or raise awareness about homelessness from resources shared during the 2020 National Youth Homelessness Awareness Month and 2020 National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Awareness Week.
Shelters & Resources
Alexandria Community Shelter
2355-B Mill Road, Alexandria, VA 22314 - 703.746.3660
The Alexandria Community Shelter is a City-owned; 64-bed emergency shelter operated by Volunteers of America Chesapeake. Shelter is provided for men, women and families
Alexandria Winter Shelter
During wintry or cold weather, those experiencing homelessness may access the Alexandria Winter Shelter Collaborative located at Carpenter's Shelter (5701-D Duke Street) and at the Lee Center (1108 Jefferson St.). The Alexandria Winter Shelter Collaborative accommodates men, women and families with children. Call 703.548.7500 for more information.
5701-D Duke Street, Alexandria, VA
Carpenter’s Shelter is a 60-bed facility that supports those experiencing homelessness in achieving sustainable independence by providing shelter, guidance, education and advocacy.
The Eviction Storage program provides furniture storage and emergency shelter referrals for eligible low-income households facing immediate eviction. Call 703.746.5700 for more information.