L.A. City Council to meet Tuesday to consider coronavirus relief programs

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday will consider establishing programs to help low-income residents and workers get through the coronavirus pandemic, the council president said today.

“The city, state, nation and the world are in the fight of our lives to save as many people as possible from a virus that is a threat to all of us, regardless of race, religion, sexual preference, immigration or economic status,” Council President Nury Martinez said. “While we all are clearly at a health risk, no one is at greater risk in the ability to recover from the ensuing economic crisis than low-income workers.”

The City Council last Friday adopted an emergency measure to halt evictions for people unable to pay rent due to being unable to work while stay-at-home orders are in effect. Tenants will still be on the hook to pay back the rent.

Martinez said she and Councilman Herb Wesson have partnered to try to revive the Emergency Renters Relief Program, which would assist low-income earners in paying rent once the emergency orders are lifted. It was first used last fall to help those renters before a state bill that capped rent increases went into effect on Jan. 1.

The council members are also jointly planning to introduce a proposal to establish an “Emergency Lifeline Jobs Program” to ensure that federal COVID-19 relief dollars coming to Los Angeles will help low-income Angelenos get back to work.

Martinez said the program would create “quality, sustainable employment” once the immediate threat of COVID-19 has decreased, including jobs in construction and housing projects beneficial to “historically underserved” neighborhoods.

Martinez and Wesson said they will dedicate seed money to both programs, with the council president dedicating $1 million from her Sixth Council District discretionary fund to the Emergency Renters Relief Program.

Wesson is pledging to dedicate $150,000 to the program for residents in his 10th Council District, and their motion asks the city’s Housing and Community Investment Department to identify other funding sources.

Both council members said they intend to dedicate $100,000 each Emergency Lifeline Jobs Program as discretionary planning grants to work with nonprofit organizations in their districts and to begin organizing community stakeholders.

The council’s last meeting went on for more than 11 hours, when members passed a series of coronavirus-related emergency measures, including the stop on evictions and late fees for those unable to pay rent due to the pandemic, as well as protections for grocery store and delivery service workers, and others.

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