Residents and small businesses struggling as a result of the pandemic will likely have another opportunity to get assistance from local nonprofits.
On Tuesday, the Virginia Beach City Council is expected to vote to give $10 million to nonprofits to distribute aid.
Under the proposal being considered, each of the following organizations will receive $2 million grants:
United Way of South Hampton Roads;
the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore;
Hampton Roads Workforce Council;
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Hampton Roads;
and the city’s volunteer rescue squad.
The organizations have developed plans to give the money to residents who need food, emergency financial assistance and job training. LISC Hampton Roads will support small businesses owned by people of color, women and members of the military. The volunteer rescue squad would use the funds to buy ambulances and to assist recruiting efforts.
Federal funding the city received from what’s known as the CARES Act freed up funds the council had previously appropriated. So now the council is interested in using some of the stockpiled funds to help those impacted by the pandemic.
Christine Morris, the executive director of LISC Hampton Roads, applauded the council for working with nonprofits. She said nonprofits have not been asked to assist with distributing CARES Act reimbursements in the other 34 cities where her organization operates. They would use the city’s money to allocate $10,000 grants to small businesses.
“We have been working across the country for multiple months now trying to get relief out to individuals and businesses and we have never seen a program like this so congratulations,” Morris told to council members on Tuesday. “...Getting money into the hands of small businesses right now is really critical.”
Councilman John Moss, who initially asked the city manager to find a way to distribute the leftover funds, said he believed that nonprofits could distribute the money “faster and better.”
“I hope it is not the last amount of money that we put out to the community,” he said.
Councilman Michael Berlucchi agreed, and said nonprofits are best positioned to deliver relief to residents because they already have processes in place and existing relationships with those in need.
“It is imperative that we use these resources to help Virginia Beach families now,” he said.
Michele Anderson, the president at United Way of South Hampton Roads, said the nonprofit plans to provide rent assistance, utilities, childcare, and medical expenses to people who need financial help. Virginia Beach has 13,500 households that earn too much to qualify for government assistance, but not enough to get by, Anderson said.
“These individuals are one paycheck away from crisis,” she said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Feeding America has projected about 40,000 people in Virginia Beach will experience food insecurity this year, and about 59% of them won’t be eligible for federal nutrition programs, said Ruth Jones Nichols, president of the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore.
On top of that, Jones Nichols said her organization has experienced a steady decline in the amount of food donations received over the past five years. In 2016, the organization received 4 million pounds. This year, donations are down by 1 million pounds, she said. She partly attributed this decline to the closing of Farm Fresh, which was one of the Foodbank’s top food donors.
She said the Foodbank would use $2 million to purchase food, delivery trucks and fridges for partner organizations that distribute food.
Steve Cook, the vice president of workforce innovation for the Hampton Roads Workforce Council, said the nonprofit would focus on short-term training programs, including in the industries of healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality and skilled trades.
Alissa Skelton, 757-995-9043, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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