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May 22, 2020

Arlington County Not Meeting Needs of Tenants in Pandemic—Thousands of renters headed for eviction and hunger

Affordable Housing,hunger — @ 4:15 pm

The Arlington County Board is not meeting the needs of Arlington tenants who lost jobs owing pandemic closings, and who now may lose their apartments if the county does not provide far more tenant assistance in the form of rent vouchers.  The county board so far has approved less than $2 million in federal and local funds for immediate rent relief, and at most approved another $2.7 million after July 1 even though the rental relief needs likely exceed $20 million.  A rich community like Arlington and a county budget of over $1.5 billion should be able to adequately fund rent relief and food assistance.

In March, the Arlington Greens petitioned the county board to use local tax dollars to provide $10 million for rent vouchers and food gift cards for tenants who have lost their jobs owing to Covid.  Greens then expanded the request to $22 million in April as the Covid worsened.  Greens pointed out that based on national unemployment data as many as 8,000 Arlington households may be unable to pay their rents.

On May 19, the county accepted $21 million in federal funds for Covid, but would only agree to spend $1 million to immediately help households with a $1,500 per month housing voucher for three months.  This amount will only help 220 households with a $4,500 housing voucher, far less than 10 percent of the need.

Social assistance agencies told the county government recently that at least 3,500 tenant households in Arlington have been unable to fully pay their rent in the past few months.  To provide a $4,500 housing voucher to each household to partially pay 3 months of back rent would cost about $16 million.   The number of households needing rental assistance will only rise as the pandemic lasts, and more households use up their savings so it is not unreasonable that 5,000 to 8,000 households will need rental assistance to avoid eviction.

Where could the county government quickly find $16 million in housing assistance funds without raising taxes?   The county board continues to fund  $18 million in construction costs to build new subsidized apartments in FY 2021 which have yet to approved or begun.  The county board should use this $18 million to fund housing vouchers for the 3,500 and rising households in Arlington who will face eviction shortly.

In addition to rental assistance, many households need food, and the Arlington food bank and church pantries are overwhelmed with tens of thousands of people asking for food.  A typical Arlington two-person household would likely need to spend at least $100 per week for food or $400 per month.   To meet half of the food needs of 5,000 households, would cost $3 million for 3 months.   The county has yet to provide even $1 million more in food aid.

The county government wastes far too many dollars on unneeded vanity projects including lavish subsidies to developers and business, and expensive new and often unneeded buildings.   The county can certainly find the $25 million or so that is now needed for rent and food assistance and get rid of bloated and unneeded expenses.

Queens Court

 

 

 

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April 14, 2020

Proposed Arlington County Covid Emergency Food and Rent Spending of $2.7 million should be raised to at least $22 million

Affordable Housing,hunger — @ 12:55 pm

The Arlington County manager on April 6 proposed that Arlington County spend $2.7 million for emergency food and rental and eviction assistance to residents affected by Covid virus.   The manager  proposed spending $7.5 million for small business, tourism, new services, and help for Arlington County employees.  Business thus gets three times the help that unemployed and desperate county residents get for shelter and food.

Even devoting the full $10 million to just emergency rental and food assistance with none for small business and tourism, will not meet the needs of the estimated 8,000 of Arlington residents who lost their jobs and incomes, and now cannot afford to pay rent and buy food.  Evictions and hunger should be the first priority for any county emergency Covid spending, and not business or tourism.

In March, the Arlington Greens had asked the county board to spend at least $10 million for emergency housing grants and grocery gift cards for residents, but that amount as the virus has continued and closed business continues, is inadequate.

Nearly 13-percent (16 million people) of the U.S. workforce are now unemployed, and filed for unemployment compensation, owing to Covid virus.  About 120,000 Arlington residents are employed in recent years, meaning that at the 13-percent rate 16,000 Arlington resident are furloughed or unemployed.  Assuming that half of these receive no pay, then about 8,000 Arlington residents have lost their income.

The County Board should be prepared to spend $22 million now for emergency food and rental assistance, and then expand this as the need continues.   The county manager has wisely called for the county to postpone most long term spending in fy 2021.   School and county infrastructure building can resume in fy 2022 or later.

Within the $43 million housing assistance budget spent last year in fy 2020 are $16 million to build new apartments (AHIF), and $2 million for housing and community development.   The county board should halt the building of any new housing or development, and transfer this $18 million to the housing grants program that now was funded for $9 million.  This additional $18 million could fund 3,600 households with a $5,000, one-time housing rental grant that would pay for roughly 3 months of back rent.  A $4,000 grant could help 4,500 households with  an $18 million fund.

With regard to food needs, a two-person household would likely need to spend at least $100 per week for food or $800 over 2 months.  To help 5,000 households, would cost $4 million for the 2 months.

In summary, the county board at a minimum should divert $18 million from its housing construction budget to emergency rental grants, and also provide $4 million in emergency grocery gift cards to the thousands of Arlington residents who find themselves facing eviction and hunger.

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March 19, 2020

Petition to the Arlington County Board Asking for $10 million for More Rental Housing Grants and Emergency Food Help for Arlington Residents Facing Eviction and Hunger Owing to Coronavirus

Affordable Housing,hunger — @ 11:53 am

Please sign our petition below–to sign go to:     http://chng.it/mxbFRgLNmg

Arlington Greens have initiated this petition to the Arlington County Board, Arlington Virginia, asking them to approve $10 million to provide $9 million in emergency housing (rental) grants and $1 million for emergency grocery gift cards for Arlington residents who have lost their income because of the coronavirus and face possible eviction and hunger.

Arlington County’s housing grants program today helps about 1,200 low income rental households.   We propose that the county board add $9 million to this rental grants program to pay all or some of the rent that lower income Arlington renters face owing to loss of their jobs or incomes because of the virus.

About 55 percent of Arlington residents are renters; 70,000 Arlington renters earn under 60-percent area median income (under $50,000 yearly for a single person), and many of these renters have no paid sick leave, and/or work in businesses that will close or are closed with the virus.   Many will need help.

The Arlington Department of Human Services (DHS) can easily give out these rental vouchers and emergency grocery gift cards to Arlington residents who are facing dire financial hardship owing to loss of their job or income because of the virus.   The amount of the rental voucher and amount of grocery gift amount would vary depending on the financial need of the household.

 

Queens Court

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August 2, 2013

Green film fest on hunger documentary on July 31: Great success

hunger — @ 11:20 am

Green film fest july 31 2013 pic1We raised $164, and collected 65 pounds of food collected to be divided jointly between ASPAN and AFAC. Leftover cookies went to AFAC. Thank you to AFAC and ASPAN staff and supporters for attending.

The film shown was the documentary A Place at the Table, a film produced and narrated by Jeff Bridges, that deals with today’s hunger in America and what can be done to eliminate hunger among the 50 million people. http://www.magpictures.com/aplaceatthetable/

We had approximately 24-26 people in attendance. Some gave ideas of how to reach others for our next event. One participant expressed and interest in coming to our next Arlington Greens meeting!

For our first Green Fest film shown in Arlington, we had a nice turn out concerning late July is a time when many people are on vacation or uninterested in community events of any sort. People got to talk about an important issue and get to know some nice Greens.

Sandra Hernandez organized our first film showing for Arlington Greens. We would like to than First Presbyterian Church of Arlington for providing space and publicity for the film.

We want to give a shout out to our dear friend Malissa who pulled all the bits and pieces of our ideas together. She was very organized and calm and thought of many things we failed to consider.

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