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Alexandria Agencies Release Report Describing Solutions to Mitigate Resident Challenges


Healthcare is one of five areas highlighted in the Alexandria Community Needs Assessment. (Photo:

ALEXANDRIA, VA-The Economic Opportunity Commission (EOC) and the Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) have released a 23-page report detailing challenges in the community. The document, which also provides solutions to mitigate the concerns, focuses on five areas: childcare, employment, food security, healthcare, and housing.

The Alexandria Community Needs Assessment was compiled using data from 2020 to 2023. It was completed last year. Its introduction says it is “meant to be used as a tool” to help the city meet its strategic plan, which has the goal of making Alexandria “a caring, kind, compassionate, fair, just and equitable city that supports an affordable and livable community for all.”


The report focuses on Arlandria and the West End as locations that have the most racially diverse populations and the highest percentage of children born to parents from other countries. Childcare services are limited, and the increase in cost is another barrier. For example, the pre-pandemic cost for one child was estimated at $1,885 a month; post-pandemic, in 2023, the cost rose to $2,444 a month.

Potential solutions include the commission of a study to get a better idea of childhood needs and gaps, advocating for city-led investing and partnerships with childcare agencies, and stabilizing childcare services with grants.

Note that while the report outlines more concerns and solutions in this area, as well as others, this article is meant to outline and summarize the issues the source material conveys.


Alexandria’s unemployment rate last December was 2.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The entire state of Virginia has an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent. According to the United Way, 34 percent of residents earned more than the Federal Poverty Level ($14,580 for one person in 2023). However, they were still not able to “afford a basic budget made up of essential expenses,” the assessment says.

Based on data from the  Regional Fair Housing Plan 2023 by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the report found that Black and Hispanic residents are not as engaged in the labor force as Whites. Living below the poverty line, rates are similar. These two minority groups also travel farther to find work.

A major solution involves what the report calls upskilling programs, which are designed to assist people in acquiring new skills or improving skills they already possess. These programs are available through the city’s Workforce Development Center. Raising minimum wage is an additional solution. The report says, “Ensuring that workers are paid enough to cover their basic needs, such as housing, food, and healthcare, can lead to greater financial stability and reduce reliance on multiple jobs to make ends meet.”

Food Security

Organizations providing food assistance in Alexandria, like ALIVE!, have seen markedly increased levels of supply need since the pandemic and the requests for food have exceeded pre-pandemic levels, according to the city’s Food Security report. In the last three years, the nonprofit has served an estimated 20,000 individuals and 5,000 households per year.

To address the concern, DCHS created the Food Access Working Group, made up of representatives from a number of community partners such as ACT for Alexandria’s Shelley Miller, ALIVE!’s Jenn Ayers, and Hunger Free Alexandria’s Bryan Perry. The group will make decisions on short- and long-term goals to fight food insecurity.

City efforts already underway include increasing SNAP outreach to the West End and determining what causes food insecurity in Alexandria. The city hired a full-time food security coordinator two years ago and moved DCHS to the West End so people living there would have easier access to services.


The 2022 Community Health Needs Assessment by Inova Health System found that while residents are generally healthy, health depends on several factors including race, gender, and income. The Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), in effect through 2025, was created by the Alexandria Health Department and the Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria to determine the causes of health inequities.

The assessment says that CHIP has made a difference, aligning the many groups involved in healthcare and describes needs in detail. It recommends continuing with CHIP to implement its ideas.

This year, Alexandria will conduct a new Community Health Assessment, and the report urges CHIP’s creators to continue their collaboration during the completion process.


The report begins this section by describing the release of “The State of Eviction in Alexandria,
Virginia: A Community Assessment” in 2021. That document said eviction is a main issue for families with low incomes. It was worsened by the pandemic, when people experienced job loss.

Concerns in the report include: a lack of affordable housing, systemic and individual racism, and a lack of knowledge about tenant rights combined with the feer of using the resources that would provide assistance.  Rent increase and language barriers are additional problems.

Solutions to combat eviction and housung issues range from funding for more affordable housing, to collaborating with community partners, to the development of workshops where tenants can learn about their rights and the resources currently in place to assist them.

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Kevin Dauray

Kevin is Publisher's Assistant with The Zebra Press. He has been working for Alexandria's "Good News" newspaper since 2019. A graduate of George Mason University, he earned a bachelor's in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He also studied at the Columbia School of Broadcasting and holds a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marymount University. He is an alumnus of T.C. Williams High School. Go Titans!

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