State announces $1.7M for COVID-19 relief on Virginia peninsula

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Gov. Ralph Northam today announced more than $1.7 million in Community Development Block Grants for three projects in James City and York counties and the city of Williamsburg that will assist local governments and community partners in meeting the needs of Virginia families and small businesses impacted by the government response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Peninsula is among the areas of our Commonwealth hardest hit by the financial impacts of this pandemic, in part because of the tourism-driven economies that they rely on every year,” Northam said. “By directing CDBG funding towards these projects, we will ensure more Virginians can stay in their homes and help businesses can keep their lights on as we weather this public health crisis.”

Since 1982, the federally funded CDBG program has been administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development. Virginia receives funding annually to distribute to small cities, towns, and counties, and funding is allocated among local government applicants through an open submission application process using objective scoring criteria developed in consultation with eligible localities.

Large cities and counties receive a direct allocation of CDBG resources from the federal government, so the state-administered funds must focus on smaller and more rural regions of the Commonwealth. This year, more than $20.4 million has been distributed to communities across Virginia through the CDBG program.

DHCD reallocated existing CDBG funding to assist with COVID-19 response and recovery activities. Funding can be used for:

  • Construction or rehab of structures for shelters
  • Testing or equipment manufacturing
  • Training programs for healthcare workers or service industry jobs transitioning to food or pharmaceutical delivery systems
  • Acquisition costs for telework or telemedicine services
  • Job creation or business development for manufacturing of COVID-related materials
  • Business assistance for job training or re-tooling business services to reopen and adapt in a new environment
  • Small business recovery funds for rent and mortgage assistance
  • Personal protective equipment, sanitization, dining equipment, and barrier devices to meet social distancing requirements

“Access to this type of grant funding is more important than ever for many of Virginia’s communities right now,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “This realignment of funds is an innovative approach to addressing the needs of many Virginians, and we will continue to move Virginia forward.”

James City County Housing Assistance Program

$348,104

This project will provide financial assistance and ongoing housing counseling with support services to eligible individuals, including those that have recently become unemployed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tourism industry has been heavily impacted by business closures, and James City County has seen a large increase in unemployment, furloughed employees, and a decline in seasonal hires. The funding will target housing and financial stabilization through rent and/or utility payments, as well as ongoing housing and financial counseling for 54 households that have been directly impacted by COVID-19.

City of Williamsburg: Emergency Housing and Food Assistance for Homeless and Low- to Moderate-Income Individuals

$165,203

The city of Williamsburg has partnered with Colonial Williamsburg and a local hotel to provide lodging and isolation space for 50 individuals experiencing homelessness. Additionally, the city will support approximately 75 households with rental assistance and provide approximately 1,200 bags of fresh produce and prepared meals to families.

York County: Lower Peninsula Business Assistance Program

$1,230,000

York County and the cities of Poquoson and Williamsburg will utilize CDBG funds to assist more than 200 Lower Peninsula businesses with the costs associated with reopening safely, many of which are tourism or retail and have remained closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. York County will be the lead applicant and administer this business recovery grant in partnership with both cities. Businesses can receive up to $5,000 for rent relief and equipment purchases to help businesses re-open safely and in accordance with state procedures. This region is home to many hotels, restaurants, and service and entertainment businesses typically supported by the many tourism attractions that have had their normal operations disrupted by the pandemic.


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