Arlington County gets $20.6M federal grant for coronavirus response

Health care workers wait to swab for samples at a drive-thru coronavirus collection site in Arlington, Va., Thursday, March 19, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Arlington County Board accepted a $20.66 million federal grant Monday to bolster the county’s coronavirus response programs.

Money will be used to support initiatives including:

  • Food assistance programs, including food banks, home-delivered food and meal services, and grab-and-go meal programs;
  • Funding emergency assistance to residents;
  • Buying personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitizing products for health care workers, emergency medical responders, social workers and other public health and safety staff;
  • Establishing and staffing COVID-19 testing sites for the community;
  • Hiring more public health workers;
  • Facilitating distance learning for students and improving telework capabilities of public employees.

“This welcome and much-needed grant from the federal government will help us provide the emergency food and housing assistance that those in our community who have lost their livelihoods to the pandemic so desperately need,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a news release.

The federal grant comes as part of the CARES Act. The county board voted 4-0 to accept the funding.

“It will also help close the digital divide by providing broadband internet access to APS students hampered by their lack of broadband access, pay for PPE for our frontline personnel, stand-up testing sites, hire public health workers, and more,” she said in the statement. “We expect to begin using it in early June.”

Of the new funding, $500,000 will go to a county school initiative to provide broadband internet access to Arlington Public School students in need. According to the news release, 5,00 to 8,000 families could qualify for the program, which will be administered by APS through a contract with Comcast.

Additionally, $400,000 will go to the Arlington Food Assistance Center and to THRIVE, an Arlington nonprofit that provides emergency cash to those in need. The board also allocated $500,000 to THRIVE for emergency assistance, including rental assistance, to residents in need.

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Emergency assistance for low- and moderate-income Arlington renters who have experienced income loss directly related to COVID-19 will also be provided through Community Development Block and Community Services Block grants.

Households that qualify can receive payments of up to $1,500 a month for up to three months. Around 200-600 Arlington households are expected to receive funding to avoid eviction.

“This funding will be used to meet the most immediate, urgent needs of residents who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the pandemic,” Garvey said. “It is in addition to the $20 million federal CARES Act grant and will quickly be put to use helping stabilize families at risk by paying rent, utilities, and other necessities.”

Arlington small businesses will also get a helping hand.

The county board appropriated $216,500 from the Rosslyn, Ballston and Crystal City Business Improvement Districts through the GRANT Program to provide funding up to $10,000 to Arlington businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Landlords of affordable housing properties are being offered an incentive to waive their Multifamily Revolving Loan if they commit to using the money to address rent and vacancy losses and emergency needs during the crisis.

“For many low- and moderate-income renters in Arlington, this is a time of terrifying uncertainty,” Garvey said.

“Many have lost their jobs and do not know when, or if, they will go back to work. Many are struggling to pay their rent and put food on the table. This waiver will help our affordable housing landlords help their tenants by eliminating late-payment fees and agreeing not to evict their tenants who can’t pay rent through the end of this year.”

Payments can be waived through Dec. 31. if landlords agree not to charge late fees or evict tenants from their properties for COVID-related nonpayment of rent through Dec. 31.


Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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