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Fairfax County could get funds for housing, Bikeshare, and more from federal budget

A federal budget plan approved by the U.S. House includes funding for more Fairfax County Capital Bikeshare stations (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A federal budget plan passed by the U.S. House yesterday (Wednesday) would send more than $8.3 million to Fairfax County, Virginia’s senators report.

Designated H.R. 2471, the $1.5 trillion spending package funds the federal government for fiscal year 2022, which began on Oct. 1, 2021, and ends on Sept. 30. It also includes $13.6 billion in aid to support Ukraine during Russia’s invasion and releases funding for the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed into law in November.

The House approved the package with two separate votes of 361 to 69 and 260 to 171 after removing a portion that would’ve provided $15.6 billion for COVID-19 response efforts, including vaccines and testing — measures that would’ve faced an uphill battle in the Senate, which will now take up the budget.

“We are pleased to see the House of Representatives vote to pass a full-year spending package, which will prevent a costly shutdown and provide key federal funding for some of Virginia’s top priorities,” Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner said in a joint statement.

According to the senators, the package contains more than $85 million in earmarks for Virginia, including the following allocations for Fairfax County, per Warner’s office:

  • $2 million for the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board’s Merrifield Crisis Response Center, which provides mental health, substance use, and developmental disability services
  • $1.7 million to develop Fair Ridge at West Ox, a affordable housing community that the nonprofit Cornerstones Housing has proposed building near Fair Oaks Mall
  • $1.03 million to boost the county’s First Time Homebuyers Program, which helps low and moderate-income families purchase affordable housing
  • $1 million to purchase equipment and expand Capital Bikeshare facilities for underserved areas
  • $742,000 to support a diversion program for adults who have gone through the criminal justice system
  • $400,000 to help the county launch a new skills development center that would assist minority and low-income residents disproportionately affected by the pandemic with job training and finding employment
  • $1.5 million for the Residences at Government Center II, a planned affordable housing development with up to 275 units

According to Rep. Gerry Connolly’s office, the $2 million for the Merrifield Center would be used to redesign the facility with security enhancements and additional capacity to support an expanding array of services, including the county’s Diversion First efforts.

“This redesign is necessary due to significant programming changes since the opening of the building,” the release says.

The spending package also includes $1 million for the Fairfax County Health Department to develop a “Stable Families, Thriving Futures” program focused on “improving the immediate and long-term educational, employment, and health outcomes of pregnant and parenting teens and non-parenting young adults ages 15 to 25 in Fairfax County’s underserved communities of color.”

If the Senate adopts the budget as is, George Mason University will receive nearly $2 million to establish Virginia Climate Center in partnership with the county, Fairfax City, and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission.

Another $1.15 million has been allocated to GMU for a learning laboratory where students will design and implement projects aimed at improving social and population health:

The centerpiece will be the launch of a Summer Immersion Institute (SII) for 96 students. The SII curriculum will focus on building students’ capacity to address social health for communities and ensure access to care for marginalized communities in Fairfax County, especially for communities who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These projects reflect the shared priorities of local leaders, and I am greatly looking forward to seeing these dollars in action for the people of Northern Virginia,” Connolly said. “This funding will be put toward critical efforts to bolster Northern Virginia’s response to climate change, expand affordable housing initiatives, invest in workforce development and training, and more.”

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