Meeting Basic Needs: A CPN Roundtable explores Arlington with our lowest-income neighbors.

On Thursday, October 17th, the Community Progress Network held its fourth residents’ voice roundtable.  For this event, CPN collaborated with the LINK project and its four partners. The Linking Social Factors to Health in Arlington County (LINK) project is a data-collection initiative to identify the social/structural determinants affecting the health of Arlington’s neediest residents in its most disadvantaged neighborhoods and help key stakeholders prioritize action. The four clinic partners of LINK project are:

  • Arlington Free Clinic (AFC), which provides comprehensive free healthcare to low-income, uninsured Arlington County adults through the generosity of donors and volunteers.
  • Arlington County Department of Human Services’ Public Health Division (DHS) which also operates a Maternity Clinic that provides pregnancy testing and prenatal services to the county’s low-income, uninsured women.
  • Virginia Hospital Center’s Arlington Pediatric Center (APC) which offers outpatient medical care to Arlington County’s medically underserved children, ages 0 to 18, whose family income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.
  • Virginia Hospital Center’s Outpatient Center (OC) which supports the healthcare needs of Arlington County’s adult residents who are uninsured or underinsured. The clinic provides advanced diagnostic treatment services, such as imaging, surgeries, and chemotherapy.

As with the other roundtables, the goal of the evening was to hear directly from the residents, so community leaders could hear what was working well for them as well as the challenges they faced.  CPN and LINK members worked with other partners in Arlington to register individuals whose household income was under 30% of AMI for the area (for reference to these levels, please see here.) To support participants, childcare and dinner were provided, and participants received a $20 Target gift card to thank them for their time.

Seventy-eight participants arrived, along with their children who were supervised in the childcare area.  To support our participants, 34 volunteers helped manage the logistics of the family-style dinner, registration, childcare and other supports. Over 50 community leaders facilitated table and room conversations, took notes on the conversations, and were present to listen to the concerns of the residents.  These community leaders represented various sectors within Arlington—from County Manager Mark Schwartz, to elected officials Christian Dorsey, Erik Gutshall, and Matt De Ferannti, as well as various nonprofit leaders.  The conversations started over dinner and grew into robust discussions lasting three hours.

During the event, participants shared their stories, highlighting what was working well as well as their challenges.  The report that is currently being compiled will provide nuance and detail, but there were many positive items highlighted, such as the ease of using Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) and the many options for public transportation in Arlington.  There were also challenges discussed, such as the difficulty of obtaining transportation passes if an individual does not have easy access to the internet, or the challenges of finding the right size apartment at an affordable rate—for single people and for larger families.  The conversations allowed for participants and community leaders to share information around accessing resources and how to reach all sectors of Arlington’s diverse community.

For more detail on the conversation, or to see reports about the previous roundtable community conversations, please refer to the Community Progress Network’s website:  The report for this roundtable is expected in late 2019.