Editor: The Arlington Greens have asked the Arlington County Board to immediately provide $10 million for rental grants and grocery cards to Arlington residents who had lost jobs or income owing to the coronavirus.
The county government’s housing-grants program helps about 1,200 low-income rental households. We propose that the County Board add $9 million to this rental-grants program to pay all or some of the rent that lower-income Arlington renters face owing to loss of their jobs or incomes because of the virus.
About 55 percent of Arlington residents are renters; 70,000 Arlington renters earn under 60 percent of area median income (under $50,000 yearly for a single person), and many of these renters have no paid sick leave, and/or work in businesses that will close or are closed with the virus. Many will need help, and we do not want people to become homeless.
The Arlington Department of Human Services can easily give out these rental vouchers and emergency grocery gift cards to Arlington residents who are facing dire financial hardship owing to loss of their job or income. The amount of the rental voucher and amount of grocery gift amount would vary depending on the financial need of the household.
We also ask that the County Board waive the requirement that those in the household have legal immigration status. We know there are many thousands of undocumented residents in Arlington who work and live in Arlington who are now desperate.
Faith communities, the Arlington Food Assistance Center and food pantries are helping, but the local government should step up immediately in this desperate hour of need of Arlington residents.
John Reeder, Arlington
Reeder is chairman of the Arlington Green Party.