Fairfax County officials are considering how to disburse more than $200 million in federal moneys from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.
The one-time funds may be used only for county expenses incurred in response to the COVID-19 public-health emergency from March 1 through Dec. 30, 2020, County Executive Bryan Hill wrote in an April 29 memorandum to the Board of Supervisors.
The county government will be allowed to use the funds to cover public-health needs and other expenses directly related to the pandemic response, plus economic support for businesses and employees affected by the crisis. The expenses must not have been accounted for already in the current fiscal year’s budget. CARES funds may not be used to offset revenue losses, Hill wrote.
The Board of Supervisors on May 12 will consider an item that would expand support for local small businesses and non-profits provide housing, food and utilities assistance to residents affected by the crisis.
Hill’s memo recommended allotting $20 million of the $200,235,485 in CARES funds to aid community-based organizations supporting the community’s basic needs.
Calls to the county’s Coordinated Services Planning hotline have at least doubled, compared to the same time period last year, because of the COVID-19 crisis, officials said. The CARES moneys will pay for direct client assistance, staff members providing food and monetary aid, and financial services to help people pay rent, mortgages, security deposits, utilities, prescriptions and housing fees, such as ones for condominiums and homeowner associations.
Officials are proposing spending $2 million (10 percent) of that community funding on countywide initiatives ($1.2 million), Britepaths ($400,000) Family Pass and New Hope Housing ($200,000 each).
The remaining 90 percent of the community-based funding would be allotted to four regions:
• Region 1 (Springfield, Fort Belvoir, Lorton, Huntington and Mount Vernon) would receive 29 percent of those funds. United Community would receive $2.32 million, Lorton Community Action Center $1.74 million, and Good Shepherd Housing and Koinonia $870,000 each.
• Region 2 (Annandale, Baileys Crossroads, the city of Falls Church, Merrifield, Seven Corners and Dunn Loring) would receive 26 percent. Annnandale Christian Community for Action would receive $3.12 million, Falls Church Community Service Council $1.04 million, Facets $780,000 and Second Story $260,000.
• Region 3 (Great Falls, McLean, Oakton, Reston, Vienna, Herndon and Tysons) would receive $4 million, or 20 percent. Cornerstones and Herndon-Reston Fish each would receive $1.8 million, while the Community for Helping Others and SHARE of McLean would get $200,000 each.
• Region 4 (Burke, Centreville, Chantilly, Fairfax, Fairfax Station, Clifton and West Springfield) would receive $3 million, or 15 percent. Western Fairfax Christian Ministries, Fairfax Fish and Ecumenical Community Helping Others would receive $1 million each.
Other suggested uses for CARES funds include:
• $5 million to create a Nonprofit Sustainability Fund to support the viability of the county’s nonprofit partners.
• $35,000 to Volunteer Fairfax, which participates in emergency preparedness activities and coordination.
• A $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to create additional emergency-shelter capacity.
• A $3.5 million community-development block grant from HUD, administered by the county’s Department of Housing & Community Development, which would be used to give emergency rent and utility assistance for families that have lost income. The moneys also could supply operating support for affordable-housing providers.
County officials likely will have to carry most of the federal relief funds into fiscal year 2021, which starts July 1. Funds unspent by Dec. 31 must be returned, Hill’s memo read.
In addition, the county government could use some of the funds to hire more Health Department workers, buy personal protective equipment and expand teleworking options for county employees.
County officials are assisting Fairfax County Public Schools with its crisis response and will determine the appropriate possible use of federal stimulus moneys, Hill wrote.
The Board of Supervisors on May 12 is slated to approve the fiscal 2021 budget. County officials anticipate general-fund revenues to be $35 million or $40 million lower than budgeted for the current fiscal year, and said revenue projections still are “highly speculative,” as impacts likely will lag the crisis by a couple of months, Hill’s memo read.