County Board Accepts $20.66 Million Federal COVID-19 Grant

Published on May 19, 2020

The Arlington County Board today accepted and appropriated a $20.66 million federal grant to help support County programs and services affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding can also be used to cover expenses related to complying with COVID-19 public health precautions.

"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. "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. We expect to begin using it in early June."

The Board allocated $500,000 of the funding for a joint County/School Internet Essential Grant Program to provide broadband internet access to APS students in need. Some 5,000 to 8,000 families could qualify for the program, which will be administered by APS through a contract with Comcast.

The Board also funded prior expenditures from the Manager's Contingent combined total of  $400,000 to the Arlington Food Assistance Center and to THRIVE, the Arlington non-profit that provides emergency cash to those in need, and allocated an additional $500,000 to THRIVE for emergency assistance, including rental assistance, to residents in need.

The remaining funding from the FY 2020 County Manager contingent will provide continued support for unanticipated funding needs through the beginning of the 2021 fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2020.

The CARES grant will help support numerous programs and services throughout Arlington, 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

  • Facilitation of distance learning for students and improving telework capabilities of public employees

The funds can be applied to COVID-19-related costs incurred from March 1 — December 30, 2020.

The Board voted 4 to 0 to accept and appropriate the funding. To read the staff report, visit the County website. Scroll to Item No. 43 on the agenda for the Tuesday, May 19, 2020, Recessed County Board Meeting.

In other actions related to the County's COVID-19 pandemic response, the Board approved:

$1.069 in Additional CDBG and CSBG Funding for Low-and-Moderate Income Households

Additional federal fundingthrough the CARES Act for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) will provide emergency assistance for low-and-moderate income Arlington renters who have experienced income loss directly related to COVID-19. The funding will be used to help households pay rent, utilities, and internet costs to help students access school resources from home. Qualified households may receive payments of up to $1,500 per month for up to three months. The program is expected to help 200-600 Arlington households 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."

The Board voted 4-0 to appropriate the $830,027 in additional CDBG funds and $239,159 in COVID-related CSBG funds. Through a cooperative agreement through the two localities, $39,095 of CDBG funds will go to the City of Falls Church.

To read the staff report, visit the County website. Scroll to Item No. 27 on the agenda for the Saturday, May 16, Regular County Board Meeting.  (The item was pulled from the Consent Agenda and approved, following a public hearing, at the Tuesday, May 19 Recessed County Board Meeting).

BID Funding for County's Small Business GRANT Program

The Board appropriated $216,500 from the Rosslyn, Ballston and Crystal City Business Improvement Districts for the County's Small Business GRANT Program. The program offers grants of up to $10,000 to Arlington businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Normally, Arlington's BIDs focus on placemaking and beautifying our commercial areas," Garvey said. "Their work during the pandemic has become more focused and more urgent — to help Arlington's businesses survive and recover from the economic shock that has accompanied COVID-19's spread through our County and across our nation."

The appropriation brings the total funding available through the program to more than $1.2 million. More than 1,200 Arlington small businesses and nonprofits applied for the funding through the May 17 application deadline. The grants can be used to help pay employee salaries and benefits, and for other business capital and operating expenses directly related to the pandemic.

The Board voted 4 to 0 to approve the appropriation. To read the staff report, visit the County website. Scroll to Item No. 28 on the agenda for the Saturday, May 16, 2020, Regular County Board Meeting.

Agreement for Arlington Mill COVID-19 Walk-up Sample Collection Site

The Board approved an agreement between the County, Virginia Hospital Center, and the Arlington Free Clinic that provides the legal framework for the walk-up COVID-19 walk-up sample collection site at the Arlington Mill Community Center at 909 S. Dinwiddie St.

"This collection site on the Columbia Pike corridor is set-up to make it easier for residents to access testing, especially those who may not have a doctor, may not have a car to drive to the collection site on N. Quincy, and may not have medical insurance," Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said. "The County is working hard to further expand our testing capacity in the coming weeks and months so that we have the information we need to bring this virus under control in our community."

The site opened May 12, bringing easily accessible testing to one of the County's most diverse areas. Prompt, widespread testing and confirmation of those suspected of being infected with the COVID-19 virus is an essential element of the public health response to COVID-19. It is the base for effective strategies for containing the virus, including the quarantine and treatment of infected individuals.

VHC's first site, operating on County-owned property at 1429 N. Quincy Street, is drive-up only. The Arlington Mill site is open weekdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. It is testing 50 people a day, by appointment only.

Under the MOU approved by the Board, the County provides the PPE for all personnel, plexiglass booths to shield workers at the registration desk, and signage. VHC is running the site, with help from Arlington Free Clinic volunteers. To be tested at this site, Arlington residents may call 703-558-5766 for a referral to the site from VHC. Testing does not require health insurance, and Spanish-language translation is available for Spanish-speakers seeking to register.

The Board voted 4 to 0 to approve the agreement. To read the staff report and the agreement, visit the County website. Scroll to Item No. 42 on the Agenda for the Saturday, May 16, 2020, Regular County Board Meeting.

Waiving Loan Payments for Affordable Housing Properties

The Board approved allowing borrowers of County Multifamily Revolving Loan Funds the option of waiving their 2020 loan payments if they commit to using the money to address rent and vacancy losses and emergency needs that are associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

"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."

Borrowers who choose to participate will be able to waive payments due to the County through December 31, 2020. To qualify, they must agree not to charge late-payment fees or evict tenants from their properties for COVID-related non-payment of rent through December 31, 2020. The goal is to keep low-to-moderate income tenants, who have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, from losing their homes.

The program could waive up to $2.3 million in County loan payments through December 31, 2020. That will support rent payments for about 1,600 households facing hardship and/or other emergency needs at these properties. The loans will continue to accrue interest, and the borrowers will still have to comply with all requirements of their loan agreements, including repayment.

The Board voted 4 to 0 to approve the waiver program. To read the staff report, visit the County website. Scroll to Item No. 39 on the agenda for the Saturday, May 16, 2020 Regular County Board Meeting.

ConnectArlington for Arlington Free Clinic, Higher Education

The Board approved two agreements that leverage Arlington's fiber-optic network, ConnectArlington, to support the Arlington Free Clinic and universities.

"The County continues to look for ways to improve health equity, especially during this pandemic," County Board Chair Libby Garvey said. "The Free Clinic is a lifeline for low-income Arlington residents who have no medical insurance and need care. ConnectArlington will help the clinic provide high-quality care to its patients."

The agreement with the Arlington Free will provide the clinic two strands of "dark fiber" from the County's fiber-optic network, ConnectArlington, that will support the clinic's telehealth services, including access to medical record systems, by connecting it with Virginia Hospital Center. The connection will enable the hospital and the clinic to share important information, such as medical records, and allow the clinic to better serve its low-income, uninsured patients.

Under the agreement, the County will pay for the Clinic's equipment, and to put the system in place, and provide them 10 years of maintenance and an equipment refresh after five years. The County also will pay for the lateral connection from the clinic to the ConnectArlington trunk line. VHC will pay for its lateral connection to Connect Arlington.

The Board voted 4-0 to approve the agreement. To read the staff report and the agreement, visit the County website. Scroll to Item No. 21 on the agenda for the Saturday, May 16, 2020, Regular County Board Meeting.

The Board also approved an agreement that allows universities to connect to ConnectArlington, with the goal of creating an innovation platform to support research and education. Universities will be able to license up to four strands of dark fiber for 10 years, at no cost to the universities. The agreement will extend the reach of ConnectArlington to the University Research and Education network throughout the region, the nation, and the world.

The Board voted 4 to 0 to approve the agreement. To read the staff report and the agreement, visit the County website. Scroll to Item No.22 on the Agenda for the May 16, 2020, Regular County Board Meeting.