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After CARES: City Plans for Looming Collapse of Food Security and Housing Funding

On Dec. 31, CARES Act funding stops but the end of COVID-19 related food insecurity or income loss is still nowhere in sight in Alexandria.

A series of measures to try to compensate for the lack of CARES Act funding is docketed for the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 8.

“In order to reach the largest number of people and to maximize other resources it is recommended that the collaboration with ALIVE! for large scale monthly food distribution events, home deliveries and local pantry supply and support be continued,” staff said. “With additional funding of $375,000 it is estimated that 12,000 to 14,0000 individuals per month would be served through April 2021. Food costs have been increasing and some adjustments to the type of food and or number of events may need to be made if this trend continues. ”

The report outlines a series of distribution events, from two monthly large distribution events to smaller pop-ups and deliveries for seniors.

The report also suggests continuing the collaboration between Office of Housing and the Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS). The two bodies have been working over the last few months to try to prevent evictions.

This has included specific coordination of resources with individuals needing multiple sources of funding to address housing and utility costs, eligibility determination assistance, and targeted outreach to properties with high rates of residents engaged in the eviction process.

“This collaborative approach would continue going forward assuring that all available federal and state dollars would be utilized and that those individuals in greatest need would be assisted,” city staff said in a report. “The program would focus on those who are already engaged in the eviction process and who are at greatest risk of homelessness if they lose their housing.”

The partnership would also include continued work with Northern Virginia Legal Services on identifying those who need assistance.

“It is recommended that $625,000 be used to provide rental/eviction prevention assistance through DCHS’ Office of Community Services to benefit 200 individuals and families facing eviction and most at-risk of homelessness,” the report said. “Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 (CDBG-CV) funds and all other resources will be accessed when possible to meet the needs of additional residents.”

Staff photo by James Cullum

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