Thanks to federal relief funding, Fairfax County is getting an infusion of emergency housing voucher money to help people who are at risk of homelessness or fleeing from domestic violence and others in need.
The American Rescue Plan Act signed into law in March is providing $10 billion to address homelessness, including 70,000 vouchers to local housing authorities, including Fairfax County.
The county will partner with community groups to provide the housing assistance, which could last 10 years — the length of the program — for each recipient.
“We are very grateful to receive these Emergency Housing Vouchers to serve many of our most vulnerable residents and neighbors and help them achieve safe and stable housing,” Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority Chair C. Melissa McKenna, who serves as the Dranesville District commissioner, said in a statement.
The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority approved a county framework last Thursday (July 15) to receive the money, which involves 169 vouchers that will be made available in coming weeks.
Recipients will need to be referred to the program by county case managers or other service points, such as homeless services, Coordinated Services Planning (703-222-0880), or the Domestic and Sexual Violence 24-Hour Hotline (703-360-7273).
Money will go to landlords, and recipients will be required to pay 30% of their income toward rent and utilities.
The emergency housing vouchers can cover a variety of costs, including security deposits, moving expenses, and essential household items such as bedding and tableware.
Even outside the vouchers, ARPA has dedicated billions of dollars to addressing housing issues, as people have struggled to pay rent amid statewide shutdowns last year and uncertain employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The need to provide housing assistance is expected to become especially urgent in the coming months after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium expires on July 31.
“The [assistance is] designed to prevent and respond to [the] coronavirus by facilitation the leasing of the [emergency housing vouchers], which will provide vulnerable individuals and families a much safer housing environment to minimize the risk of coronavirus exposure or spread,” Dominique Blom, a general deputy assistant secretary with the Housing and Urban Development Department, said in a May memo describing the funding.
Vaccinations have helped bring the virus under control, but cases have been rising in Virginia and the U.S. amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant, which is now the source of 83% of all new COVID-19 cases, according to CDC estimates.
“Individuals and families who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness are often living in conditions that significantly increase the risk of exposure to coronavirus in addition to other health risks,” Blom said in the memo.
Eligibility for the vouchers is limited to individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness, at risk of homelessness, or were recently homeless and “for whom providing rental assistance will prevent the family’s homelessness or having high risk of housing instability.”
People fleeing — or attempting to flee — domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking are also eligible for the vouchers.
“These vouchers — in addition to the existing programs and services offered through a robust partnership — offer yet another valuable resource to help position individuals and families on a reliable foundation from which they can achieve their fullest potential,” McKenna said in her statement.
During the first year of the pandemic, homelessness decreased throughout the D.C. region except in Fairfax County, which saw a 17% increase from 1,041 people in 2020 to 1,222 in 2021, and Prince George’s County, which had a 19% increase, according to a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments report.
Fairfax County has attributed the increase to expanded services supported by COVID-19 relief funding.
Riders Could Be Banned for Crimes on Metro Property — “Metro is seeking authority to temporarily ban bus and rail riders from the system if they are arrested for…either sex-related crimes or crimes related to guns or other dangerous weapons. Anyone arrested for such crimes would be banned from the bus and rail system for 14 days after a first arrest, 30 days after a second arrest, and one year after a third arrest.” [WJLA-ABC7]
Tall Oaks Parking Expansion Approved — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Reston assisted living facility’s proposal to add 29 spaces to its 44-space parking lot. Tall Oaks has also agreed to provide three secure bicycle racks near the front of the building and pre-wire 2% of the proposed spaces for electric vehicle charging stations. [Patch]
Fairfax County Teen to Get Congressional Medal — 17-year-old Centreville resident Ayonnah Tinsley is one of about 500 students who will get the Congressional Award Gold Medal in a virtual ceremony on July 30. The highest honor given by Congress to young people, the award recognizes youth for personal development, community service, and fitness. [WTOP]
Roer’s Zoofari Opens Butterfly Exhibit — “Imagine strolling through a tropical rain forrest surrounded by the flutter of colorful butterfly wings. That imagined experience can become a reality thanks to the new Wings of Wonder exhibit at Roer’s Zoofari in Reston.” [Patch]
Fairfax County has been awarded approximately $3.3 million in federal funds to cover the costs of personal protective equipment, Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner announced on Wednesday (April 14).
The funds come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and will be used to purchase and distribute masks, respirators, eye and face shields, and other PPE necessary to protect county workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a joint news release from the senators’ offices.
The money can also go toward tents, bags, door openers, and tables utilized by workers as part of the county’s pandemic response.
“We’re glad to see these federal dollars go towards managing, controlling, and reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Warner and Kaine said. “As Virginians continue to wear a mask, social distance, and get tested and vaccinated, we remain committed to ensuring that the Commonwealth has the necessary tools to continue to combat this health crisis.”
Fairfax County Board of Supervisor Jeff McKay says that, so far, FEMA has approved $11.5 million in requests for financial assistance from the county, including public assistance reimbursements for PPE, disinfectants, plexiglas, and communications expenses related to public health orders during the pandemic.
“I am appreciative of FEMA’s responsiveness in approving our submissions,” McKay said.
McKay’s office confirmed to Tysons Reporter that Fairfax County will receive $402 million in COVID-19 stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan, the federal relief package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden in March.
About $179.7 million will go to Fairfax County Public Schools, while the remaining $222.5 million will go to the county government. In addition, the Town of Vienna is expected to receive close to $15 million, and $2.8 million will be allocated to the City of Falls Church, according to Inside NoVA.
McKay says Fairfax County is still waiting for “specific guidance” from the Treasury Department for how to utilize its stimulus money, but the county hopes to continue initiatives like the Fairfax RISE grant program that were supported by previous relief funds.
“We expect the funds to be more flexible than the CARES Act funding so we will need some time to see what our options are,” McKay said. “Regardless, we are excited to have the support of the federal government and believe it will be crucial to continue to lift up our community.”
According to a March 12 memo from County Executive Bryan Hill, Fairfax County had finished allocating more than $200 million in the Coronavirus Relief Fund that it created with money from the CARES Act. The funds went to support public health programs, county government operations, and virtual learning at FCPS and to provide assistance for residents and businesses.
Hill also noted that the county will also receive additional funds from the American Rescue Plan for its emergency rental assistance program, though the memo doesn’t specify the amount.
Kaine and Warner announced on April 8 that Virginia will get more than $96 million, including $7.8 million for Fairfax County, to support access to safe and affordable housing for people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of losing their homes.
The Board of Supervisors will formally accept its American Rescue Plan stimulus funds on April 27 when it approves the county’s fiscal year 2021 third-quarter review, according to Hill.
Virginia’s new members of Congress — Hear what the five lawmakers have to say about their first few weeks on Capitol Hill. [WVTF]
Winter break camp — With the holidays coming up, find out about the Reston Association’s Winter Break Camp if you need to keep your kids entertained and active. The deadline to apply is Dec. 13. [Reston Association YouTube]
Homeseller advice session — Mark Sierakowski, a realtor with Long and Foster Real Estate, Inc., will present a workshop on selling your home at 1 p.m. at the Reston Regional Library. [Fairfax County]
Photo via Ray Copson
Update at 10:30 a.m. — Moran issues a statement lamenting the state of the budget process and more in his official announcement. Read more on ARLnow.com.
Original story: U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (VA-8th) is not going to run for re-election, Politico reports.
Moran, a Democrat from Alexandria, has served in Congress for 23 years. From 2000 to 2010, Reston was in the 8th District. The 2010 redistricting sent Reston to the 11th District, and Restonians are now represented in Congress by Gerry Connolly.
Moran’s retirement is the second among local House members in recent weeks. Veteran Congressman Frank Wolf (R-10th) is also retiring. Moran’s retirement is the third for Democrats this week: California Rep. George Miller said he would leave Congress after 40 years and New York Rep. Bill Owens also said he would forgo reelection in 2014.
An official announcement from Moran is expected Wednesday.
Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va. 10th), represents nearby parts of Fairfax and Loudoun County in the U.S. House since 1980, announced on Tuesday he will not seek an 18th term next year.
Wolf released the info in a statement:
“I have decided not to seek re-election to the U.S. Congress in 2014. It has been an honor to serve the people of northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. I thank my constituents for giving me the privilege of representing them in Congress for 34 years.
“As a follower of Jesus, I am called to work for justice and reconciliation, and to be an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves. I plan to focus my future work on human rights and religious freedom – both domestic and international – as well as matters of the culture and the American family. My passion for these issues has been influenced by the examples of President Ronald Reagan, former Congressmen Jack Kemp and Tony Hall, Chuck Colson, and the life of 18th century Member of Parliament William Wilberforce.
“I want to thank the many excellent former and current members of my staff who have helped me serve the people of the 10th District. I am also grateful to my wife, Carolyn, and my family, who have faithfully stood by me all these many years.”
Local Democrats had already been talking about Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust running against Wolf in 2014. It would have been a hard race though — Wolf has earned less than 57 percent of the vote since 1982, The Washington Post says.
Wolf is the eighth House Republican to announce his retirement in 2014.
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner called “a true friend, and a great partner, both when I served as Virginia Governor and since I’ve joined Congress.”
“We have worked closely together on Northern Virginia transportation issues, and partnered in consecutive sessions of Congress on bipartisan legislation that would encourage the on-shoring of jobs back to Virginia which have moved overseas in recent years,” Warner said in a statement.
“Frank has also been a passionate advocate and reliable ally in my ongoing efforts to find common ground on issues surrounding our nation’s deficits and debt. He is a tireless and leading advocate for religious freedom around the world. We will miss his delegation leadership.”
Since his first election in 1980, Wolf has represented all or parts of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Fauquier, Clarke, Frederick, Warren, Shenandoah, Rockingham, Rappahannock, Page, Winchester, Manassas and Manassas Park.