Committee Recommends $50K Donation to Rent Relief Fund

Supervisors on the Board of Supervisors finance committee have recommended donating $50,000 to the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties to help people struggling to pay rent.

The $50,000 is all that’s left in a fund normally used to make loans for lower-income people in eastern Loudoun trying to renovate their homes. Supervisors previously took $200,000 from that fund for the county’s own rental assistance program; Department of Family Services Assistant Director Sarah Coyle Etro said that fund is expected to run out of money as county staff members work their way through the 400 applications they have received.

But, she said, the Community Foundation is able to get money to people who can’t get help from the county.

“They’re able to reach renters that maybe don’t have all of the documentation that we require for our program, but are still in need,” Etro said. “So they may be renting a room, they may not have a lease, they may not have a yearlong lease, and they may be in an all-cash job or a job that is on-demand, like an Uber driver.”

The money would go to the Community Foundation’s Community Emergency Relief Fund, which previously was used to make a $25,000 grant was made to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, in support of a collaboration between Catholic Charities’ Loudoun office and Loudoun Cares to provide monetary assistance directly to individuals impacted financially by the COVID-19 crisis.

If the full Board of Supervisors approves the $50,000 donation as proposed, that money will be earmarked for people in Loudoun who cannot pay their rent, and who do not meet the county’s requirements for documenting their lease.

Some supervisors were still skeptical; committee Chairman Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) said the money might be better spent in the county’s own rental assistance program.

“We have a pool of people who have applied for money and we don’t think we can even serve them with it, so at the very least we should be taking care of those folks before we start going elsewhere,” Letourneau said.

The committee recommended the donation 4-0-1, with Letourneau abstaining.

rgreene@loudounnow.com