Arlington, VA

(Updated at 8:10 p.m.) More than 3,500 local residents are having trouble paying their rent during the pandemic, according to a survey of nonprofits conducted by Arlington County.

The figure was included in a staff report for an item to be considered by the County Board later today.

“Arlington County conducted a survey to assess community needs related to the COVID-19 public health crisis and to inform staff recommendations for the use of funds being made available through the federal CARES Act,” the report says. “The survey was sent to 73 nonprofit organizations that serve low and moderate income residents in Arlington, with 26 responses… Of the clients served during the past month, service providers reported that over 3,500 clients were having difficulty paying the rent, with many others unable to pay utilities or access resources or school because of internet/technology issues.”

Lower-income workers have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, which has prompted mass layoffs in the restaurant, retail and hospitality industries, among others.

The county is citing its community needs survey in a plan for how to allocate supplemental Community Development Block Grant and Community Services Block Grant funding under the CARES Act — the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus and recovery bill passed in March.

The County Board is set to vote tonight on a staff proposal for allocating around $1 million in federal funding — intended to help localities respond to the coronavirus crisis — to “provide emergency rent, utility and internet assistance to prevent 200-600 households from becoming homeless.”

The funds will be dispersed by Arlington Thrive, the staff report says. Andrew Schneider, executive director of the nonprofit, tells ARLnow that needs in the community are rising.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Thrive has seen an unprecedented increase in the number of requests,” Schneider said. “We have had approximately a 150% increase in request for basic financial needs like rental assistance, utility assistance, and medical and dental assistance. We anticipate this increase in demand to continue through the summer.”

More from the report:

Based on the survey results and consultation with staff from the Department of Human Services, Department of Libraries, and Department of Technology Services, Arlington County proposes utilizing CARES funding to support an emergency assistance program to include rent, utilities and internet costs for low- and moderate-income Arlington renters who have experienced loss of income directly related to COVID-19. Monthly payments will be based on need, and will not exceed $1,500 per month per household, for up to three months. The program will be administered through Arlington Thrive, a nonprofit emergency assistance organization that will conduct outreach, handle intakes, and make emergency payments directly to landlords and/or utility companies. An estimated 200-600 Arlington households will be served by this program and may avoid eviction as a result. Additionally, Arlington Thrive will provide information on food resources to clients and community partners.

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