The exact number of homeless people is pretty hard to precisely determine. According to the Fairfax County Office to End and Prevent Homelessness, the 2020 point in time data shows 1,041. In 2018 the county completed it's "10 year goal to end homelessness" which reduced the numbers of homeless from about 1,835 in 2008 to 987 in 2018 (a reduction of 46% -- not exactly ending homelessness). Since 2017, however homelessness has steadily increased. But the shelter capacity in the county has not increased, and stayed steady at about 300 beds total. While the county does have some surge capacity through their QPID (Quarantine, Prevention, Isolation and Decompress) program at hotels, the bed capacity still appears to be short of what is necessary.
Perhaps the county should be diversifying and increasing the bed capacity by building additional shelters for people of differing needs and backgrounds.
EMBARK Richmond Highway is a comprehensive transportation planning project that includes expanded transportation options along Route 1 from the beltway to Lorton including a widened six-lane highway, seamless sidewalks and bike paths and a dedicated median for "Bus Rapid Transit" (BRT) similar to that in north Alexandria City. This is a multi-year, multi-phase $400m project. The first phase includes widening Rt. 1 from Huntington to Jeff Todd Way. Eventually, when the BRT is built in 2030, it would have "stations" located along its 7.5 mile route near "Community Business Centers" (CBCs) like Penn Daw and in front of the current shelter. For more information see:
While it's not possible to know for sure, you can often find shopping carts near and around shelters. This is because the chronically-homeless often use carts to move their belonging from place-to-place. They, however, are not the only users how leave abandoned carts around. While the shelter may propose that they'll keep the area neat and free of litter, it's hard to know whether they will. It's a valid concern.
Homeless vs. unsheltered - Both are acceptable terms when talking about people living without their own home. Sometimes people live with their parents, or on the coach of a friend. Are they homeless? Kind of. The county uses the term Homeless often including in the name of its agency that coordinates shelters "The Office to End and Prevent Homelessness". Can it be offensive? Yes. When you see people living on the streets, they are more than homeless people. More than unsheltered people. They are people. Street people is not a term that is acceptable.
Homeless Shelter vs. Emergency Shelter vs. Temporary Shelter - These are all acceptable terms for shelters. It's important to not gloss over the fact that residents here don't have a home. When terminology starts changing to make people feel better, often the mission is lost. Homeless Shelter is a perfectly acceptable term.
People who live in shelters - Residents or Guests? Again, more of a feel good description of a person residing in a shelter. Since some people receive mail there and register use the address for jobs, then resident would be perfectly acceptable (like a person who live in an apartment building). Some people only stay for a few days never receiving mail or use the address and perhaps guest better suits that situation.
"Living on the streets" - the typically acceptable term for a person not sheltered. You would not typically use "living in the woods", or "living in the park" or "living in the Walmart parking lot" to describe those people.
The most important thing to remember is that the people who live in the community, even at the shelter or in the woods, are people.