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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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.
Last week, City Council approved a second round of “Back to Business Grants” to support the costs incurred by our small businesses working to survive.
In two weeks @AlexandriaEcon will accept applications for $2.4M of grants.
Details available online!https://t.co/FCREb9E2Gz
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) September 17, 2020
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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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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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:
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Other equipment and supplies to promote health and safety
- Technology to facilitate e-commerce and/or virtual business operations
- 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
- Initial cleaning and disinfection services prior to reopening
- Rent or mortgage costs required to be made in order to reopen/restart
Staff photo by Vernon Miles
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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
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.