Spring 2021 Update
What You Can Do Now!
Support our Community’s Full Return from COVID-19
As the promise of spring and increasing availability of the COVID-19 vaccine arrive, we are all anxious to shake off the forced isolation of the past year and begin living again. Yet, as these Cornerstones’ families share so candidly with the Washington Post in this “Portrait of Unyielding Need,” the effects of the pandemic are far from over.
Our neighbors have battled health concerns, economic hardship, and the trauma that arrived with the virus. COVID-19 has a disproportionate impact on people of color and low-income neighbors already struggling before the pandemic and facing an uncertain future.
As things start to look better, we may not realize the long road to recovery, especially for those whose jobs aren’t coming back or who may still lose their homes when government resources end.
Thanks to YOUR unwavering support, Cornerstones continues to provide essential services to thousands of households living in crisis today – answering the call for food, financial assistance from eviction or utilities shut-offs, and support for families and students to keep them connected to school, work, family, and their trusted social networks. These resources are critical for families struggling in our region, and we gratefully accept financial contributions and donations of grocery and store gift cards to help expand our work.
Just as important – please ask elected officials and policymakers to prioritize spending and programs to support a full and robust return for all members of our community by:
- Continuing financial payments for landlords and their tenants, with protections for both parties from loan or lease termination, stays of eviction, and repayment plans that emphasize credit repair and protection.
- Extending job training, childcare support, academic incentives and tuition loan forgiveness, and unemployment benefits that help people find and maintain living-wage jobs.
- Seizing this opportunity to focus on long-term systems change to address racial disparities and provide opportunities for all members of the community.
Updates and Information
Did you know that 2021 is an election year in Virginia?
All statewide offices (Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General) and all 100 members of the House of Delegates are up for election on November 2, 2021. That seems like a long way off, but there are several early opportunities to take action. Mark your calendars for May 8 for the Republican convention and June 8 for the Democratic Primary. For more information about registration and deadlines click here to review the Virginia Board of Elections website.
To enable us to have as much information as possible on our candidate’s positions, Cornerstones will host a Candidate’s Forum this summer.
As you speak to candidates over the coming months, please talk about your support for Cornerstones, our work in Northern Virginia, and ask where they stand on the essential issues of affordable housing, equity, early education, food insecurity, and additional resources for human services. Your support for strong policies and investment in these key areas can make a difference in the lives of many.
Fairfax County Budget – It is budget season in Fairfax County. You can view a synopsis of the FY2022 proposed budget here. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors advertised a tax rate at $1.15 (the current rate, and one penny more than the proposed reduction by the County Executive in his draft budget). With that additional resource and new funding from the American Rescue Act (federal), Fairfax County has an opportunity to fund affordable housing development and preservation for residents earning 60% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI) of $115,000 and to sustain human services investments for the most vulnerable residents, including supports for nonprofits, businesses and community organizations working with Fairfax County to mitigate the most serious effects of the pandemic on families and our economy. Cornerstones applauds the County for its response to the pandemic. While the county may not be able to take a giant step forward in these areas this year, it is important that our region not lose any of the ground we have worked hard – with your help – to gain, especially with so far still left to go. As an advocate for Cornerstones and the work that we do, are you interested in having your voice heard during the budget process? Click here for a list of upcoming FY2022 Public Hearings where you can participate.
Highlights and Success Stories
With your support, Cornerstones continues our round-the-clock work serving our vulnerable neighbors in need during COVID, the cold winter weather, and advocating for more resources for our clients with our federal, state, and local legislators. It is a busy time of the year with many opportunities for you to get involved with advocacy as well.
Virginia General Assembly – The General Assembly adjourned on March 1 after passing a number of bills that Cornerstones has championed. Special thanks to our local delegation (Senators Janet Howell and Jennifer Boysko and Delegates Ken Plum and Ibraheem Samirah) and other Northern Virginia lawmakers for their strong and unwavering support of initiatives designed to provide opportunities for low-income families, people experiencing homelessness, and those struggling amid the pandemic.
This 2021 General Assembly session saw notable progress on issues of critical importance to our neighbors. Governor Northam signed into law many initiatives that will:
- Increase funding and special tax credits and zoning options to expand affordable housing
- Expand Fair Housing protections and provide legal assistance to those facing eviction
- Increase childcare support for low-income working families
- Promote equitable opportunity for Virginia students by expanding Broadband access for educational parity and support future leaders and our workforce by granting in-state tuition to Virginia students who are undocumented.
In an historic action, fueled by calls from the faith community and justice advocates, Virginia joins 23 other states in banning the death penalty, citing a long history of racial injustice and the need to embrace an evidence-based approach to public safety and criminal justice reforms.