Hundreds of Alexandria residents took to the streets of Arlandria early on Friday evening to protest against paying rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lisa Hernandez lost her job two months ago, and can’t pay her $1,000 monthly rent for a small apartment that she lives in with her husband and young son.
“I have no savings,” Hernandez told ALXnow. “I don’t know what we are going to do. We can’t pay the rent. I have been trying to get food from everywhere, because we can’t afford to eat right now.”
Alexandria City Councilman John Taylor Chapman drove in a caravan of honking cars with his wife and infant son. The signs on his car read, “Cancel Rent!”
“I think we need rent cancellation in Virginia,” Chapman said. “I think there’s an opportunity for the federal and state governments to come together to give relief for folks and who will or have lost their jobs during the pandemic, and we need to lobby to get federal resources to landowners.”
Anna Diaz and her two roommates wore face masks as they drove in the caravan. Diaz lost her job as an administrative assistant in D.C. last month, and said that things are getting desperate for many in the Latino community.
“A lot of these folks work two or three jobs, and they still struggle,” Diaz said. “That’s why we’re here today, really, demanding for landlords to not profit off of people during this pandemic.”
We want to thank everyone who joined our car caravan , we had more than 100 cars in Arlandria-Chirilagua and many more…
As previously reported, the City Council voted to direct $671,570 in federal funding to provide rent assistance for low-income families in Alexandria. Council also passed a measure asking state and federal officials for a rent and mortgage freeze. The federal funds are available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and includes $1.1 million in block grants and $585,127 in Home Investment Partnership Program funds. The city is also continuing to work on a rental assistance program.
City funding can currently provide $500 in monthly financial assistance per home, and the funding is expected to help about 450 households. The city’s Office of Community Services also offers up to $6,000 per year to help low-income seniors pay their rent and utilities.
ALIVE! also helps low-income residents with help paying rent and utilities.