ALEXANDRIA, VA -At a legislative meeting on September 28, the Alexandria City Council voted unanimously to increase the City of Alexandria’s capacity to support households at risk for eviction.
City Council’s decision funds $457,000 for two service navigator and two housing relocator positions; storage assistance for household belongings; and additional legal services provided by the Legal Aid Justice Center to assist people at risk for eviction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The consequences of eviction during this pandemic are far-reaching for individuals and families,” said Mayor Justin Wilson. “The likelihood of experiencing homelessness increases, mental and physical health are diminished, and the potential for obtaining employment decreases. City Council’s vote addresses the urgent need for eviction prevention and legal services in Alexandria and strengthens a local safety net that will help protect our residents as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.”
Eviction disproportionately affects Black, Indigenous and People of Color due to long standing discriminatory national housing practices. Eviction is also linked with respiratory disease, which could increase the risk of complications if COVID-19 is contracted. Instability, like eviction, is particularly damaging to children, who suffer in ways that affect their educational development and well-being.
The housing crisis brought on by the pandemic has sharply increased the risk of long-term harm to renter families and individuals, disruptions of the affordable housing market and the potential for foreclosure and bankruptcy, especially among small property owners.
City Council’s action to expand program capacity complements the work of Alexandria’s Eviction Prevention Task Force. Established in 2020, the Task Force is composed of City departments and community partners, including the Department of Community and Human Services, Office of Housing, Office of Performance Analysis, Sheriff’s Office, City Attorney’s Office, Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Tenant and Workers United, African Communities Together, ALIVE!, Christ Church and Emergency Financial Providers. The Task Force’s goal is 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 Task Force shares resources, identifies gaps and needs, and coordinates resources and outreach to residents at risk of eviction due to financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.