Do you know what I mean when I say “RPC on Columbia Pike”?
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Do you know what I mean when I say “RPC on Columbia Pike”?

Do you know what I mean when I say “RPC on Columbia Pike”?

Residential Program Center on Columbia PIke Residential Program Center on Columbia Pike


Just down the road from BM Smith, you’ll find the Residential Program Center, or RPC. The Center is instrumental in helping Arlington residents move forward at critical intervals in their life journeys.

Managed by Volunteers of America Chesapeake, the VOA website describes the Center’s purpose in this way:

“The Residential Program Center (RPC) is located in Arlington, Virginia and provides three crucial services – non-medical detoxification, substance abuse recovery and housing services for single adults experiencing homelessness – all under one roof.

Within this unique program, a 12-bed detoxification unit provides social model detoxification services for up to 14 days; a 10-bed Early Recovery Unit provides intensive post-detoxification treatment services for up to three months; and a 44-bed homeless shelter provides housing-focused case management, education training, job training, referral services, behavioral health treatment services on-site, and 12-step based meetings.”

For years I worked steps away from RPC and had no awareness of its crucial mission to help vulnerable peoplein my community. I wanted to learn more and share about that with my neighbors, so I sat down with Simon Lee, Donor Relations Specialist with VOA Chesapeake, to ask for his help understanding more about the shelter.

What do you think is the most common misconception about RPC?

People think of a dirty place. Actually, things are kept really clean. Clients are really competent, although many people just think, “Homeless people are lazy.” In fact, the clients are very busy and have to be because of the environment. Sharing space with others requires everyone to clean up after themselves. From 9am-4pm clients are required to be out job searching. They are motivated and really want to move out and get their own job and housing. 

People who are homeless are just like you and me. Many people look like professionals. They don’t fit the stereotype and you can’t tell they’re homeless by looking at them. They are working hard to get life in order, overcoming temporary obstacles. In fact, many of them keep their circumstances secret or private from their loved ones. 

What services are provided at the RPC?

  • A place to stay.
  • Case management — which includes helping with budgeting, housing services, helping people find a place.
  • Job interview skills training. 
  • Donated clothing for interviews.
  • Non-medical detoxification.

What does RPC need most? How can people in the community be most helpful?

Although this doesn’t sound fun, money is always the #1 need. This allows us to fund special projects and create opportunities for volunteer projects. Without funding, we are unable to run the programs that give more hands-on volunteer opportunities. Donations are huge, as other needs fluctuate based on the time of year and the exact clients. People can visit the VOA Chesapeake website and click “Donate,” then specify that they’d like to make a donation to RPC.

There is also a great need for donated clothing for clients to wear on interviews. Appropriate business / interview attire is very helpful for clients, but donations should include tasteful, undamaged items that a professional would be willing to wear to the workplace. It helps if donations arrive already dry-cleaned and pressed, ready-to-wear. 

How do clients become admitted to RPC?

Everyone must go through intake with DHS. Call the “1010 Hotline” to discuss any issues: 703-228-1010. 

Would you like to attend the annual Harvest for Hope Breakfast to hear testimonials from people who have graduated from the services provided at RPC? Send me an email and let me know: