Arlington County, Virginia, has increased its existing eviction protection fund by another $1.1 million, and has launched a pilot program to distribute grocery store gift cards to county residents who are in need.
The county board approved the additional funds from its COVID-19 contingent account for eviction protection through December for those affected by the pandemic. That brings the total amount allocated for eviction prevention to $3.5 million just since July 1, the beginning of the county’s fiscal year 2021.
“Because of the economic impact of the pandemic, fiscal year 2020 has brought a very large increase in the number of households needing help to pay their rent,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey.
“Given the fact of diminished support from the federal government and the continuation of community spread of the virus, we believe the need for rent assistance is likely to continue to increase in coming months.”
Those needing eviction protection assistance can apply for aid through the Arlington County Department of Human Services.
During fiscal year 2020, which ended June 30, Arlington County reports 1,555 households applied for eviction prevention assistance, for a total of $2.7 million in aid. The average payment was $1,001.
Arlington County also approved a new food security coordinator at the Department of Human Services, and will distribute grocery gift cards through its nonprofit network.
The county has allocated $400,000 for the gift cards. The Arlington Community Foundation may contribute another $200,000, which the county said would make it possible to serve up to 500 families for six months, at $200 per month.
Arlington County saw an 84% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program applications between February and May, a 23% increase in households seeking food from the Arlington Food Assistance Center, and a 32% increase in older adults receiving Home Delivered Meal assistance.
Information about both the eviction protection program and food assistance pilot are available on Arlington County’s website.
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