Congresswoman Karen Bass of the 37th District held a telephone town hall to discuss the passing of the $2 trillion stimulus package plan passed by congress. To help ease worries and concerns, the congresswoman addressed her neighbors and ways they can take advantage of the resources.
“it’s fine to pass legislation, but now the real deal is what happens now,” Congresswoman Bass stated. This call specifically addressed how the resources will and can be used by residents of Los Angeles. With help from local officials, the congresswoman successfully informed the people of her district and beyond.
Along with Congresswoman Bass, Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, John Alverez of Director of the South Los Angeles WorkSource Center, Claudia Monterroso of the LA Housing + Community Investment Department. Louise McCarthy, president and CEO of Communication Clinic Association of LA County, as well as representatives from the Tax Board and California EDA.
Councilmember Harris-Dawson began by detailing movements local government has taken so far, including utility shutoff bans and reduced parking enforcement. He shares the biggest concerns outside of health, are housing and small businesses. Reassuring residents that he and other councilmembers are working as close as possible with Congress to ensure they are getting resources necessary.
“We want to make sure folks in an already insecure housing environment that we have in LA and Southern California wasn’t set aflame by this emergency,” he shared. To decrease the worry, “We passed eviction protection, which basically puts a moratorium on evictions for the next few months and gives folks 12 months to pay back any back rent that they accrued during that time.”
He welcomed Claudia Monterroso to speak next as she works closely with City Council and the mayor on issues regarding housing. “Main interest has been understanding the impact of the COVID-19 on our most vulnerable tenants,” she began. “I do want to emphasize that we are going to be focusing on the eviction moratorium which was enacted by the Council unanimously on March 27 and made effective the following day by the mayor through an executive expanded executive order emergency order on the 31st.”
Monterroso detailed the terms of the eviction moratorium, including rent stabilization on all units built before 1979. She addressed another aspect, the halt on any Ellis Act evictions up to 60 days after the emergency order is lifted. The changes also stated that no owner is allowed to visit a residential tenant for nonpayment if the resident isn’t able to pay rent due to COVID-19 related issues.
“I do want to emphasize that the tenants are still obligated to pay a lawfully charged rent. I will like to ensure that tenants make sure to communicate with your landlord about your inability to pay if your income is affected immediately. Do not ignore any notices issued by the landlord or the property manager,” she urged.
Information on where to go for unemployment was shared by John Alvarez. There are now 16 WorkSource Centers residents can visit to get assistance with their filing, currently by appointment only.
If filing online, “We recommend that you go online and you file your claim [and] you will receive something in the mail 10 days later.” Alvarez shared that through the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Program there will be, “Special funding made available for people affected by the COVID-19. If you go to your local WorkSource Center, let them know that you’ve been affected and that you are collecting unemployment,” and they will enroll you into their program.
As far as taxes go, Congress has changed the filing deadline to July 15, 2020. The representatives gave further information on ways Californians can receive more money through the earned income tax credit. “There’s a significant amount of money that’s out there. A lot of people haven’t been taking advantage of this credit that’s available,” they stated. Now during this pandemic, the goal is to help every resident achieve the most help they can get.
Finally, Louise McCarthy spoke regarding the health crisis, testing and more. “I think it’s really disheartening every time or alarming every time we open up the news and here the numbers are increasing. Whether that’s in LA and California or nationally,” she stated. “But just because you see numbers increasing does not mean there are more new infections. That means that we are detecting infections that exist right now.”
She reassures that testing has become more available, hence the peak in the number of infections. “It shows that we are getting better at detection. As long as we’re doing well on all of those things we need to do to bend the curve, namely, shelter in place.”
If however you have been exposed to the virus, her advice is to call the emergency room or a local clinic and they will inform you where testing can take place. Although testing is getting better, supplies are still limited and she urges people to allow the vulnerable to get priority testing.
Before taking questions, Congresswoman Bass shared a few updates to legislation. “We are now preparing for the fourth bill that will probably be put together and voted on by the end of this month.”
Now that things are soon to be in motion, her next steps are to ensure they are reaching the community and making an impact on those in need. For more information visit https://bass.house.gov/services/coronavirus-resources.