RICHMOND, Va. – Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday a $2.5 million emergency fund to shelter Virginia’s homeless population during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He says the money will help provide temporary housing for about 1500 people across the state who don't have homes and rely on homeless shelters.
“As we battle this unprecedented public health crisis, we must make sure no one is left behind,” said Governor Northam. “I have issued a statewide Stay at Home order, but we know there are many Virginians with no home to stay in. With this funding, we will ensure people experiencing homelessness have access to immediate housing options and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Northam says the funding can be used for hotel vouchers, case management, food, cleaning supplies, and medical transportation.
At a press conference Friday, Northam’s Chief of Staff Clark Mercer said more than 500 hotels across the state have offered to help house people and that over 37,000 rooms are available.
Additionally, Northam says the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is preparing additional housing options for an estimated 10 percent of the 3,890 Virginians currently in shelters to allow space for social distancing and safe quarantine practices as needed.
Thursday, the federal government approved the public assistance portion of Northam’s request for a federal major disaster declaration for Virginia.
Because of that designation, FEMA will provide partial funding to support homeless Virginians age 65 and older, those with other pre-existing conditions, and those who have tested positive for COVID-19.
“People experiencing homelessness are more likely to have chronic health conditions that go untreated, and are among the populations most vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. In recent years, Virginia has seen an increase in the number of older adults experiencing homelessness,” according to the governor’s office.
If you need are homeless and need temporary housing, contact Virginia's crisis hotline and call center (2-1-1 Virginia) by dialing 2-1-1 on your phone. For more information, click here.
For additional resources and information about Virginia’s COVID-19 response, click here.