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City COVID Recovery Plan Highlights Food and Housing Security Needs

As cases start to rise again nationwide and in Alexandria, the City Government Community Recovery Plan Team has put out a proposed coronavirus recovery plan that’s headed to the City Council tomorrow (Tuesday).

The recovery is put together into a series of 10 recommendations covering different parts of the community that were devastated by coronavirus.

The first recommendations mainly involved building digital access within the city. Recommendation one involved improving the quality and affordability of Internet access, primarily through a variety of partnerships. The city is working on a digital divide survey and outreach program to determine the scale of the problem. Recommendation two would expand the electronic documentation options.

The plan also recommends creating an inventory of minority and immigrant owned businesses in the city. While the city did put forward a business grant program in response to the pandemic, most of the applicants were from Old Town.

“(Alexandria) currently does not have an inventory of the minority and immigrant owned businesses in the City, making it difficult to ensure program implementation, such as the Back to Business Grants, reach these owners,” the recovery team said. “Project would develop a mechanism for collecting and mapping minority and immigrant owned businesses in order to provide greater assistance and track metrics.”

Other similar recommendations included expanding English as a second language services and more inter-departmental coordination on programs reaching out to underrepresented population groups.

Increasing access to affordable housing, one of the flashpoints for conflict during the pandemic, is also featured prominently in the plan.

“The demand for eviction prevention and housing stability assistance is expected to continue to grow with the gap in extended unemployment benefits, particularly after the CDC moratorium on evictions ends after 2020,” the recovery team said. “The City will potentially need to provide financial assistance through supplemental resources once CARES ACT and CDBG COVID grant funds are depleted.”

Among potential methods of assisting those facing eviction were:

  • Extensions of property tax due dates and other relief
  • Enhanced access to counseling and assistance to secure loan modifications
  • Local funding to emergency rental assistance programs
  • Enhanced landlord-tenant counseling and mediation
  • Continued support of DCHS’s Eviction Prevention and Housing Stability Assistance program

“Without continued assistance, the City’s most vulnerable populations face dire instability and potential loss of shelter,” the recovery team said.

Other recommendations in the plan included:

  • Financing food security programs
  • Increased bus frequency in high-demand areas
  • Establish “community wellness” hubs
  • Maintain advance supply of PPE for local health workers.

The recommendations of the plan are scheduled to be presented to the City Council meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7 p.m.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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