Alexandria, VA

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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Morning Notes

Beyer Criticizes Trump’s Position on Michigan Governor Abduction Plot — “Trump has now responded. This is just sick.” [Twitter]

Voter Registration Deadline Approaching — “The deadline to register to vote in the November 3 elections or update voter registration information is Tuesday, October 13.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Makes Forbes’ Weekend Getaway List — “Alexandria tops the list of @Forbes‘ fall weekend getaways. See what they recommend.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Tutoring Consoritum Needs Tutors — “Once ATC confirms that you will be a tutor (we will send you an email), 2) complete the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) volunteer application.” [Alexandriatutors.org]

Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Announces Grant Winners — “The grant-funded projects, which must be completed by June 2021, will aim to accomplish one of a number of specific goals, according to a news release.” [Alex Times]

Today’s Weather — “Intervals of clouds and sunshine (during the day). High 72F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Mainly cloudy (in the evening). Low 58F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: District Manager — “District Managers are responsible for managing all facets of the optometric office operations within the designated district, including but not limited to; the daily operation of an office, including personnel management, budgetary controls, inventory controls while maintaining the highest level of patient service.” [Indeed]

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The second round of the Alexandria Back to Business (ALX B2B) grant program opens at the end of September, and $2.4 million is available for qualifying small businesses and nonprofits to cope with financial losses related to the pandemic.

“The program criteria for Round Two has been expanded so additional types of businesses and nonprofit childcare providers will be eligible to apply for a grant,” according to the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, which is receiving the applications. “Grants will be awarded in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 depending on the number of employees working for the business.”

City Council approved the funding at its meeting on Tuesday, September 8. The application period will start on Wednesday, September 30, at 8 a.m. and end on October 5 at noon. All submissions must be made online and businesses that received a grant in round one are ineligible.

To qualify for a grant, businesses must meet the following criteria:

  • 25% negative revenue impact attributable to the COVID-19 health emergency
  • Licensed business in the City of Alexandria
  • Physical location within the City of Alexandria
  • In operation as of March 14, 2020
  • For-profit small business
  • Any entity (for-profit or nonprofit) that provides full-day or part-day childcare services to children 0-13 years of age and is licensed or regulated by a local ordinance or state licensing body
  • Business is current on all local business taxes or is on a payment plan with the City
  • Not currently involved in business bankruptcy proceedings
  • Intend to remain operating in Alexandria through December 31, 2020
  • Between 0 – 100 employees
  • Locally owned and operated
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Morning Notes

Beyer Says Trump Supported Murder of Portland Protestor — “In televised comments yesterday Donald Trump called for extrajudicial murder and later expressed his desire to remain in office past term limits imposed by the Constitution. Today members of the party that supposedly backs ‘limited government’ pretend not to know what he said.” [Twitter]

Second Round of Business Grants Available — “Applications for a second round of Alexandria Back to Business grants will begin Sept. 30 for qualifying small businesses and nonprofits to offset costs related to reopening or rescaling.” [Twitter]

Free COVID-19 Testing Today in Alexandria — “Free COVID-19 testing in Alexandria,VA on September 16, 2020.Please read flyer for more details. [Twitter]

Braddock West Developers Seek Community Input — “During their presentation, the team behind Braddock West provided details of their proposed plan for the lot located at 727 N. West St. directly across the street from the Braddock Road Metro Station. They intend to tear down 10 existing single-family homes and replace them with a 7 story residential building with retail space on the ground level and an underground parking garage.” [Alexandria Living]

Lena’s Wood Fired Pizza and Tap Selling Kits for National Pizza Day — “On Sept. 20 only, Lena’s will offer their Family DIY Pepperoni Pizza Kit for families to make together at home to celebrate the holiday commemorating this crowd-pleasing favorite food. The kit is available for take-out or delivery via LenasWoodfire.com.” [LenasWoodFire.com]

Today’s Weather — “During the day, a mainly sunny sky. High 77F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph. At night, a few clouds from time to time. Low 62F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Police Officer — “It’s your lucky day! APD has added new dates for police tests: 9/22 at 5 PM, 9/26 at 9AM, and 9/26 at 12PM. You must register in advance Bring your drivers license and a second original ID- US passport, social security card or birth certificate.” [Twitter]

New Job: Part Time Office Assistant — “Del Ray Artisans nonprofit is seeking an Office Assistant. This is a paid position for 12 hours per week, with a set schedule (Thursday and Friday 12-6pm). Position entails assisting the Office Manager with general office work with emphasis on organizational skills. Working knowledge of Microsoft Office / Google Docs required in an all-Mac OS environment. Del Ray Artisans strictly follows the ALX Promise Program, keeping visitors and staff safe during this pandemic.” [Facebook]

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The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA) has won a $10,000 grant to help provide assistance to pet owners who might not otherwise be able to afford veterinary care for their animals.

The Mars Petcare Better Cities for Pets program is funded by Mars Petcare and administered by the Humane Society of the United States. The AWLA said funds from the grant will allow the organization to assist pet owners in the community to address urgent or chronic veterinary concerns.

“The AWLA already goes above and beyond to help animals in our facility,” Joanna Fortin, Director of Community Programs, said in a press release, “and we want to be able to extend that same level of care to animals throughout the community. This generous grant from Mars Petcare will mean we can help cherished pets receive much-needed care, regardless of owners’ income level.”

The funding will go towards the AWLA’s Community Programs department, a wing of the shelter founded last fall that found heightened use as the city faced widespread unemployment during the pandemic.

“As the pandemic affected budgets across the region, Fortin and her team have been able to provide pet food and supplies to pet owners in need through the Pet Pantry, which has donated more than 7,000 pounds of goods across the community since April,” the AWLA said in the press release. “The Pet Pantry complements other AWLA programs aimed at pet wellness, including accessible spay/neuter vouchers for low-income families, Pet Care Fairs and Drive-Up clinics to provide no and low-cost vaccinations and AniMeals for pets of senior citizens on fixed incomes.”

The AWLA said the community programs aim to make sure every pet in the city can be cared for as it needs.

“Every pet deserves to be healthy and safe, and every pet owner deserves the resources needed to care for their pets,” said AWLA Executive Director Stella Hanly. “Our Community Programs team strives every day to make that possible for animals across Alexandria. As a nonprofit, we don’t always have the funds to help everyone, but this grant will give us the opportunity to help more pet owners in need, and help those pets stay in homes where they are loved.”

Photo courtesy Animal Welfare League of Alexandria

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Man Has Washington Football Team Name Trademarks — “Phillip Martin McCaulay, 61, has made dozens of submissions to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for almost a dozen potential names and other iterations of them.” [WTOP]

Police Department Celebrates 150th Birthday — “150 years of exemplary service to the citizens of Alexandria! Happy anniversary to the Alexandria Police Department founded on this day, July 15, 1870.” [Facebook]

Alexandria, Arlington Apply for Grants to Fund MV Trail Widening, King Street Improvements — “Arlington County and the City of Alexandria are applying for a pair of grants that would bring significant changes to the Mt. Vernon Trail and a portion of King Street near Fairlington.” [ARLnow]

The Heritage Development Gets Smaller — “The original proposed plan included 842 new units with parking underneath the park area. After receiving feedback and concerns about the height and mass of the original plan, the proposed number of units has been reduced to 777, with 774 parking spaces underneath the new structures.” [Alexandria Living]

Carpenter’s Shelter Gets $15K Donation — “Carpenter’s Shelter has not stopped serving the homeless during the pandemic. Recently, the organization received a $15,000 donation from the nonprofitAmerican Water Charitable Foundation and Virginia American Water.” [Zebra]

New Job: Team Member — “Toastique in Old Town, Alexandria and is seeking team members to help create smoothies, gourmet toasts, and run the POS system. Employees will be joining a team to create a fun, clean, fresh environment for a gourmet toast and juice bar in bustling Old Town! No specific skills or experience needed, but applicant must be excited to interact with customers and serve healthy, fresh food to the community.” [Indeed]

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More than 300 businesses across Alexandria are about to receive grants to help them through the city’s sluggish recovery from COVID-19.

Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (AEDP) announced that 309 small businesses in Alexandria would receive funding from the city’s Alelxandria Back to Business (ALX B2B) grants program. The program is supported in large part by CARES Act funding allocated by the City of Alexandria.

“76 percent of successful applicants qualify to receive $10,000, another 17 percent will collect $15,000, with the remaining 7 percent receiving $20,000,” AEDP said in a press release. “The grant amount is directly related to the size of the business.”

The ALX B2B program totals $4.4 million in local business assistance grants, $2.4 million of which came from federal CARES Act appropriations and $2 million from the Alexandria Investment Fund.

“In total, AEDP received 356 complete applications. 309 businesses qualified for funding through the program,” the partnership said. “Of the 48 applicants that did not qualify, most were ineligible due to the total number of employees being outside of the 2-100 employee requirement; delinquent city business taxes; their year-over-year revenue not meeting the stipulation of having decreased by at least 25 percent; or being located outside the corporate limits of the City of Alexandria.”

Recipients of the grants are being notified, after which AEDP said it will publish a list of grantees to the website.

AEDP said there is $900,000 in funding remaining from the initial round of the program, which the partnership hopes to put into a second round of the program with more CARES Act funding later this summer.

The press release also included a breakdown of demographics on what types of businesses the grants went to. Nearly half of the grant recipients were white.

  • 49% of recipients identified as White
  • 22% of recipients identified as Asian
  • 8% of recipients identified as Hispanic or Latin American
  • 6% of recipients identified as Black or African American
  • 15% chose not to disclose

AEDP noted that 49% of the recipients identified as male, while 40% identified as female, 10% did not disclose and 1% identified as transgender or non-gender conforming. AEDP said grant recipients spanned seven zip codes, including a sizable portion in the city’s West End.

“The COVID-19 pandemic poses significant challenges to businesses across the Washington, D.C. region, and Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, with the support of the City of Alexandria, is pleased to provide critical financial support to Alexandria’s small businesses during this difficult period,” Stephanie Landrum, President and CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, said in the press release. “Alexandria’s business community continues to demonstrate resilience in the face of adversity, and AEDP is proud to support our community during the road to recovery.”

For businesses that receive grant funding, there are still restriction on how that can be used, including. According to AEDP, funding can be used for:

  1. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  2. Other equipment and supplies to promote health and safety
  3. Technology to facilitate e-commerce and/or virtual business operations
  4. Professional services related to the design and construction/alteration of the built environment necessary to promote physical and social distancing, as well as the actual costs for alterations
  5. Initial cleaning and disinfection services prior to reopening
  6. Rent or mortgage costs required to be made in order to reopen/restart

Staff photo by Vernon Miles

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Morning Notes

Beyer to Introduce Legislation for Law Enforcement to Wear Identifying Badges — “We don’t do secret police in the United States of America. I will introduce House legislation in the next few days to require uniformed federal officers to identify themselves by wearing badges. Next step will be working for broad support in the House. More soon.” [Twitter]

Tenants and Workers United Gives Food and Supplies to 400 Families — “Today we gave food, needs, and diapers to almost 400 families!! This was possible by Arlington Calvary United Methodist Church. Our community greatly appreciates this support during these difficult times!” [Facebook]

Alexandria Back to Business Grant Application Deadline at 5 p.m. — “Applications for the ALX B2B Grant are open (as of Thursday, June 4th at 8:00AM EDT), and will close Monday, June 8th at 5:00 PM (EDT).” [AEDP]

Del. Herring Thanks Inova Alexandria Hospital Workers — “Thank you @InovaHealth Alexandria for this display of unity & caring for our community. #WhiteCoatsforBlackLives” [Twitter]

Vice Mayor Sends Message of Solidarity With Black Leaders — “I have a responsibility to use my platform to speak up about these issues. The best way to do that is to amplify the voices of black leaders in our community. If you haven’t already done so, please listen to and read their words. And then take action.” [Elizabeth Bennett-Parker]

ACPS Announces Collection and Return of School Materials — “The school closures related to COVID-19 and the Governor’s stay-at-home order have forced us to make a new plan of how we collect students’ school materials and also allow our students to get personal belongings from their lockers or classrooms.” [ACPS]

Alexandrian Named National Eagle Scout Runner-Up — “Noah Ventura, an Alexandria resident and rising senior at Gonzaga College High School, has been named the American Legion’s Eagle Scout of the Year Runner-Up for 2020. As a recipient of the award, he is receiving a $2,500 college scholarship.” [Zebra]

Local Filmmakers Selected for Alexandria Symphony Series — “The films will accompany music by American composers performed “live to picture” by the orchestra as part of ASO’s 2020-2021 season on November 7 and 8, 2020. The works will also be screened as part of the Alexandria Film Festival on November 12-15.” [Zebra]

Reminder: Here’s a List of ACPS Free Food Distributions — “ACPS has multiple distribution meal site locations throughout Alexandria for all ACPS students and children over the age of two.” [ACPS]

New Job: Contact Tracer — “The Contact Tracer is an entry level public health professional responsible for identifying and contacting individuals who may have come in contact with persons recently diagnosed with an infectious disease associated with an outbreak or pandemic.” [Indeed]

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Local small businesses have until the end of the week to file for a grant that could help them retain their workforce during the pandemic.

The Alexandria/Arlington Emergency Layoff Aversion Assistance Program, a state-funded program, aims to save jobs in Alexandria City and Arlington County.

“[The program] will award 11 grants to local small businesses who require financial assistance in order to retain their workforce during the COVID-19 emergency,” the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce said in an email.

According to the Chamber, participation requires that business owners but businesses in Alexandria or Arlington with 250 or fewer employees. Business owners are required to fill out and submit an Emergency Layoff Aversion Assistance Program application.

Application requests can’t exceed $7,500 and smaller requests are encouraged.

“Decisions for funding approval will be made by March 30, 2020 at 5 p.m.,” the Chamber said. “Grants will be awarded to applicants who can save the largest number of jobs.”

The Arlington website noted that the funds can’t be used to directly pay the wages of employees. Wages are, instead, meant to fund other ways of maintaining business operations, like:

  • Hiring a cleaning/sanitization service.
  • The purchase of software/online programs that employees would need to use from home to support their work.
  • The purchase of remote access supplies, including laptop computers and/or smartphones, which the employees would need to use from home to support their work.
  • The purchase of an online sales platform to sell services virtually so that existing staff roles can be repurposed for order fulfillment.

The application deadline for the program is 5 p.m. on Friday (March 27).

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Going to the dentist can be expensive, and a grant from Dominion Energy will help Alexandria kids keep those pearly whites glistening.

Dominion’s charitable foundation announced this week that it awarded $1.6 million to more than 200 organizations in 13 states, including $15,000 to the Alexandria City Public Schools Wellness on Wheels (WOW) bus, a mobile dental unit that provides primary dental care to students in schools across the city.

“Preventive oral care is not just about your teeth. It’s critical to overall physical, emotional and mental health,” said former ACPS Health Services Coordinator, Dr. Barbara Nowak. “A cavity left untreated is a dangerous thing. It’s an infection in your tooth and if you don’t treat it, it can cause additional damage — especially because of the proximity to the brain. It can lead to an abscess caused by a bacterial infection and this, left untreated, could be life threatening.”

The WOW Bus, which has been operating since 2014, is managed by Alexandria nonprofit Neighborhood Health. Over the course of 70 days during the 2018-2019 school year, licensed dental professionals treated 568 ACPS students, according to the school system. There were also 956 procedures, which include extractions, fillings, cleanings and root canals.

“We are pleased to support our nonprofit partners as they work to make positive impacts in our communities,” said Hunter A. Applewhite, president of the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation, in a statement. “These grants are intended to support the most basic needs — food, shelter and medical care for our neighbors in need.”

Earlier this month, students at the T.C. Williams High School International Academy were treated by the mobile clinic for the first time. Among them was Gabriel, a Guatemalan student who had not received dental care in two years.

“The last time I went to the dentist, I had to miss my last block and I missed some school work that I had to make up,” Gabriel told ACPS Express. “I don’t like to miss my classes. In Guatemala it’s expensive to pay for school, but here it is free.”

ACPS currently provides WOW Bus services to John Adams Elementary School, William Ramsay Elementary School, Patrick Henry Elementary School, James K. Polk Elementary School, Cora Kelly School, Mount Vernon Community School, Samuel Tucker Elementary School, Jefferson Houston School, Ferdinand T. Day School and both T.C. Williams High School campuses.

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