The Virginia Beach Pandemic Relief Partnership is a collaboration of United Way of South Hampton Roads, the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, the Hampton Roads Workforce Council and LISC Hampton Roads funded by the City of Virginia Beach. The Virginia Beach Pandemic Relief Partnership recently launched VBrelief.org to provide resources and assistance to Virginia Beach residents and small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
The goal of the partnership is to help the Virginia Beach community navigate and recover from the challenges presented by COVID-19 is their top priority. And the challenges are significant:
- An additional 13,500 Virginia Beach households are struggling to make ends meet, earning below the basic cost of living threshold.
- Over 18,000 in Virginia Beach are unemployed.
- Nationwide, 21% of all rental households are behind on rent.
- Feeding America projects the food insecurity rate for Virginia Beach will increase from 8.2% in 2018 to 13.7% in 2020.
Recognizing the significant need, Virginia Beach City Council approved an ordinance on Oct. 20 to provide an initial $8 million in funding to be divided evenly among the four nonprofit partners for the purpose of providing assistance to Virginia Beach residents and businesses impacted by the pandemic.
“Virginia Beach has created a variety of programs to help our residents and business owners cope with the challenges of the pandemic, and we wanted to extend the assistance even further, ” said Mayor Robert M. “Bobby” Dyer. “We are delighted that these partner agencies have come together to serve our community through this new collaboration.”
United Way of South Hampton Roads will provide financial assistance in the areas of rent and mortgage, childcare, utilities and health. When possible, they will work directly with a service provider to pay outstanding balances. In other instances, particularly when a resident identifies multiple needs, they will provide direct case management. United Way will also serve as the backbone for the partnership, leading the centralized intake, comprehensive care coordination, marketing and reporting.
The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore will address food insecurity in Virginia Beach by working to close the meal gap for vulnerable populations impacted by the pandemic. They will accomplish this goal by purchasing food to distribute at feeding sites and investing in transportation vehicles to deliver meals to Virginia Beach households that cannot get to a food distribution location. They will also expand capacity to distribute nutritious items like fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and dairy products by purchasing refrigeration equipment.
The Hampton Roads Workforce Council will support workforce development for displaced workers through education and job training. Short-term training opportunities will focus on high demand industries including healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality, skilled trades, IT, and transportation and logistics. They will also provide opportunities for on-the-job training, incumbent worker training, apprenticeships and cohort training.
LISC Hampton Roads will provide $10,000 grants to small businesses, with a particular emphasis on small, women-owned and minority-owned businesses. Grants can be used for wages and benefits, inventory, overdue bill payment, payables and other expenses. Their portal will open on November 30 and accept applications for three weeks, until Dec. 18. After reviewing applications, LISC anticipates awarding grants as soon as Jan. 18.
“This integrated partnership brings together the collective strengths and experience of our organizations to best serve our community,” said Michele Anderson, president & CEO of United Way of South Hampton Roads. “We are proud to be working with our colleagues on such an important initiative to help the residents and businesses of Virginia Beach. This is truly collaboration at its best.”
Virginia Beach residents and small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 in any way, are encouraged to visit VBrelief.org to access resources and assistance. Small businesses will be linked directly to LISC’s application page, while residents will be asked to complete an intake form to identify their needs and provide additional information that will help case managers connect them to the right programs and resources. The information will be housed in a secure platform and only shared with relevant service providers and organizations for the purposes of providing assistance.