Richmond, VA — Across the commonwealth, localities are getting a boost in funding from Democrats’ American Rescue Plan that will go towards aid to small businesses, affordable housing, rural broadband expansion, and much more.
As Virginia approaches President Biden’s goal of vaccinating 70% of adults by July 4 and unemployment claims continue to hit new lows, Republicans are showing Virginians just how extreme and out of step they are by doubling down on their opposition to this crucial economic aid. Glenn Youngkin has called the ARP “unnecessary” and “wrong” and attacked it again in a recent interview. Meanwhile millions of Virginians stand to benefit as the ARP puts Virginia on track to a strong COVID recovery.
See below for stories from across Virginia on how ARP funds are helping communities recover:
The Virginian-Pilot: Virginia to receive $15 million in federal funding for affordable housing, Sens. Kaine and Warner announce
By Ali Sullivan
Local and state housing authorities in Virginia will receive $15,627,024 in federal funding, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced Thursday.
The funds come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and aim to increase Virginians’ access to affordable housing.
The money was awarded through the federal Emergency Housing Vouchers Program and authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act — both of which passed in March.
Through the EHV program, HUD is dispensing thousands of housing vouchers to local public housing authorities. Vouchers are reserved for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness and those fleeing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking.
The money will allow Virginia Beach to provide an additional 35 housing choice vouchers to residents, said Andrew M. Friedman, the city’s Director of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation.
“This is important because it’s targeted to the group of people who are currently in significant need of long-term housing assistance,” Friedman said. “That’s why it’s significant — not that it’s a large number of vouchers, but who it’s targeted to.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch: State could use more than $1 billion in federal aid to boost unemployment trust fund, protect businesses
By Michael Martz
Faced with a potential fourfold increase in payroll taxes on employers, Virginia officials are looking to spend up to $1.3 billion to replenish the state’s diminished unemployment trust fund when the General Assembly meets this summer to decide how to use $4.3 billion in federal emergency aid to the state.
The trust fund has fallen from $1.4 billion before the COVID-19 pandemic to less than $180 million — even with a $210 million boost from federal aid last year. Payroll taxes could soar next year to make up for revenue lost from businesses that have closed or been unable to cover the extended unemployment benefits for employees who lost their jobs during the crisis.
Leaders of the Virginia Employment Commission said Thursday that the state could make up those losses and shield businesses from big tax increases by using money from the American Rescue Plan Act that President Joe Biden signed in March.
Inside NOVA: Fairfax approves $25 million grant program for hard-hit businesses
By James Jarvis
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has approved a grant program to help small businesses and nonprofits recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, but hotels will be awarded grants before anyone else.
The Pivot Business Recovery Grant program is being funded through the American Rescue Plan, passed by Congress in March, will allocate $25 million to businesses in the county that experienced the highest amount of job losses since 2020, including lodging, food services, retail, arts, entertainment, museums and historical sites. The grant program also targets sectors that employ disproportionately higher numbers of low income and minority workers.
“Fairfax County is committed to helping businesses recover from the effects of the pandemic,” Board of Supervisors Chair Jeffrey C. McKay said in a news release. “Through the PIVOT grant we will help those businesses who saw the greatest financial impact regain their momentum so they will be able to thrive in the reopening marketplace.”
Loudoun Now: Loudoun Gets First $40M from American Rescue Plan
By Renss Greene
Loudoun county supervisors are deciding how to spend the first $40.2 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan, which arrived on June 1...County budget staffers have recommended of that first disbursement, $20 million be used to offset county revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The other approximately $20.2 million would go largely to near-term expenditures such as $9 million for economic development programs to support hotels and business recovery grants, a $3.5 million payment to Visit Loudoun to replace missed hotels tax funding, $2.5 million to support nonprofits, $1 million toward the county’s COVID-19 response, $1 million toward expanding broadband, and $100,000 to support the Department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Developmental Services’ telehealth capabilities.
ALX Now: Here’s how Alexandria is planning on spending its American Rescue Plan Act funding
By James Cullum
Alexandria is planning on spending a portion of its American Rescue Plan Act funding on supporting a childcare wellness program, commercial business districts around the city, flooding mitigation and hiring bilingual city staffers to help residents facing eviction.
Those are just four of nine prioritized recommendations that the Alexandria City Council received Wednesday night on how to spend its first tranche of funding.
Richmond Free Press: Officials confirm new regional discussions to address homelessness using federal money
By Jeremy Lazarus
Richmond and its two biggest neighbors, Chesterfield and Henrico counties, have begun talks on a regional approach to the needs of the hundreds of people who are homeless in the area, including the potential for creating a year-round emergency shelter with support services.
In a joint statement responding to a Free Press query, the three localities have confirmed that they have begun “working together to examine possible solutions.”
The discussions indicate the Richmond area is considering following the model of shelter and services that four Hampton Roads cities created and that also is in operation in Northern Virginia.
The statement, issued through Ben Sheppard, Henrico’s public relations director, notes that the three localities anticipate receiving an $11 million infusion “in new one-time targeted federal funding that could potentially support this effort and have assembled a work group of city and county staff members to consider next steps.”
The $11 million would come through the housing component of the American Rescue Plan and would be distributed through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME Investment Partnership Program. This money would be on top of the direct and far larger ARP payments each locality is set to receive.