Alexandria council votes to increase eviction prevention resources amid COVID-19

The Alexandria City Council in Virginia unanimously approved a bill on Tuesday that increases resources available to people at risk of eviction.

The council said in a statement that the one-year plan will fund $457,000 for eviction prevention in response to the housing crisis contributed to by COVID-19.

The resources include two service navigators who handle outreach, case management and filing forms for rent release programs. Alison Coleman, the director of the Office of Community Services, said the navigators partner with two housing relocators that help individuals find stable housing.

“They’ll have a really good finger on the pulse with what affordable housing is out there and where, what are the housing requirements, whereas the average resident may not know all of the different requirements,” Coleman said.

The money will provide storage assistance for household belongings and $100,000 of legal services for undocumented immigrants at risk of eviction.

In the council’s statement, Mayor Justin Wilson called the consequences of eviction far-reaching.

“The likelihood of experiencing homelessness increases, mental and physical health are diminished and the potential for obtaining employment decreases,” Wilson said.

The council said in the statement that eviction disproportionately affects people of color, and instability from eviction negatively affects children’s educational development and well-being.

The move to increase funding furthers work by Alexandria’s Eviction Prevention Task Force, established in 2020 during the pandemic “to coordinate among community partners and have a holistic approach to eviction prevention by hearing from those working directly with individuals who are at risk.”

The group began meeting in April 2020, and after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction moratorium ended in August, they met either weekly or biweekly to discuss how to support those who lost housing protection.

For help with past-due rent, visit the eviction prevention program’s website.

WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report.

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Jessica Kronzer

Jessica Kronzer graduated from James Madison University in May 2021 after studying media and politics. She enjoys covering politics, advocacy and compelling human-interest stories.

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