Hot and Cool Café hosted Assemblymember Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles), State Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) to celebrate the groundbreaking California Homeless Hiring Tax Credit (HHTC).
AB 150, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom as a budget trailer bill, contains sections that will assist individuals experiencing homelessness and small businesses financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawmakers met at the popular Leimert Park coffee shop on July 22 to announce the positive benefits of the historic initiative.
“Today, we celebrate a game-changing way to address the homeless crisis,” said Durazo, who co-sponsored the legislation with Bloom. “This tax credit will elevate small businesses, like Hot and Cool Café, to provide jobs to those men and women who are unhoused. We are rewarding good businesses for investing in our brothers and sisters who are looking for an opportunity to get their lives back on track.”
The HHTC, funded for $30 million, allows qualified businesses to claim a tax credit between $2,500 and $10,000 for each homeless person hired. An employer can claim up to $30,000 annually for each eligible individual. Also, workers in the city of L.A. will receive a living wage of at least $17-an-hour.
“Creating this pathway for purposeful employment in a way that positively incentivizes our local, small businesses to hire our unhoused neighbors is a huge step in the fight to end homelessness,” said Bloom.
“And there’s no better place to prove this concept than a place like Hot and Cool and once we prove it, we can get more resources because justice requires investment. This is the start of an investment out of homelessness,” noted Bryan, the representative of the 54th District area, which includes Leimert Park.
He went on to introduce Tony Jolly, owner of Hot and Cool Café, whom Bryan called “a champion in our community and in Leimert Park Village.” He added, “I’m honored he’s going to take up this initiative to provide opportunity and jobs for folks who live on these streets, who just need a hand and a little help to get back up.”
Jolly confirmed his support of the HHTC by explaining, during his remarks, that he just hired a “very nice, well-spoken young lady” living in her car and separated from her family due to COVID-19.
Citing the lack of labor that is constraining many small businesses, Jolly said, “It’s really hard to find people to work right now and equip this place with the labor force that it needs. So, this bill will really help. We’re fortunate to be a part of the spirit of this homeless initiative to provide a job to someone in the community who needs an opportunity. Kudos to all of you for making this happen!”
María S. Salinas, president/CEO of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and Nicole Mihalka, chair of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, were also in attendance and voiced their commitment to inform their members about HHTC. Otto Solórzano, acting director of the L.A. County Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services, said his agency, with the backing of the Board of Supervisors, stands ready to train potential employees as well as match capable workers with local employers.
“As we look forward to an equitable economic recovery, this legislation will connect people who have been unhoused to a job – something they can look forward to in their lives,” said Durazo.