We are in uncharted territory locally and on a global scale. The coronavirus pandemic is already having a drastic impact within our communities and the local economy. Fresh into his second term as City Councilmember, Marqueece Harris Dawson is helping our community adapt and persevere through this Coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to the legislative measures taken to protect residents, the councilmember launched and funded an emergency meal delivery program to provide free healthy meals to seniors in need, contracting the local South LA restaurants we love to keep their doors open by preparing meals and paying their staff to support our community. Participating businesses are being required to: follow strict health department codes and regulations, provide meals that accommodate common dietary restrictions amongst seniors, and manage door-to-door delivery for the seniors, while practicing social
“We needed new solutions that respond to the needs of our community with urgency and innovation,” said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. “We launched the emergency meal program in a week to ensure that our seniors are taken care of and do not leave their homes during this pandemic. This also allows our small businesses to continue to serve us. Local restaurants are vital to the cultural and economic vitality of our communities. As a city, we need to do whatever we can to help them through this. We are all in this together.”
Councilmember Harris-Dawson engaged local businesses to respond to this crisis and prepare meals that are delivered to the homes of seniors. This week, on the program’s 1st day, 14 family owned businesses provided healthy lunches for over 400 seniors at Ward Villas, West Angeles Community Development Corporation and other senior living centers. The first cohort of participating businesses are almost entirely small, family-owned restaurants with fewer than 10 employees. They are businesses that are either already well-known due to their positive community relationships and participation in local community service, and/or they contacted the Council office early asking for resources and support during the pandemic. The councilmember plans to continue growing this program to serve more seniors.
Last week, during a daylong City Council meeting with a packed agenda and dozens of public comments, Councilmember Harris-Dawson and the Los Angeles City Council introduced fifty pieces of legislation. The legislative package introduced by the City Council includes a series of initiatives from Councilmember Harris-Dawson representing a robust effort to protect working families across South Los Angeles and the entire city by providing a social safety net and needed supportive services for our community to survive including: temporarily banning utility shut offs, foreclosures and evictions, providing protections for grocery store workers and airport employees, as well as addressing public health concerns surrounding homeless residents and encampments. The motions and resolutions introduced are designed to help working families, small businesses and workers navigate through this difficult time and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Councilmember Harris-Dawson understands that families will be financially burdened by this pandemic and co-introduced legislation calling for a temporary ban on utility shut-offs. During this emergency, residents will no longer have their utility services disconnected for non payment. This includes Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Southern California Edison services. Individuals who experienced disconnections within March and February will also have their service restored. Additionally, this motion calls upon banks and financial institutions to suspend mortgage foreclosures and mortgage late fees for the duration of the public health crisis in order to prevent undue hardship.
Many families live paycheck to paycheck and are not equipped to endure any period of reduced income. Right now, the citywide “Stay at Home” order is preventing many residents from working and earning income. Los Angeles City Council voted to prepare an emergency ordinance that would place a temporary moratorium on all evictions and late fees until the emergency declaration of COVID-19 is lifted. When it is implemented, all landlords and residential mortgage holders will be required to make payment plans with tenants and homeowners for up to 6 months to fulfill payment obligations. For further protection, this Emergency Ordinance would also require all residential landlords to extend leases that will expire during this pandemic until at least 3 months after the emergency declaration is lifted. Despite the recent City Council meeting cancelations, the city is working with the City Attorney’s office to ensure that this emergency ordinance is instated as soon as possible.
As the former chair of the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, councilmember Harris Dawson is well aware of the conditions Angelenos living on the street face. The city is following directions from county and federal authorities on how to best serve the homeless population. The first step was introducing legislation making it easier for unhoused residents to comply with public health advice and directives regarding hygiene and social distancing. Officials have also identified city properties that can serve as emergency housing. The city has instructed the Los Angeles Department of Sanitation and CARE teams to suspend enforcement practices that may cause COVID-19 to spread. The suspended actions include requiring tents to come down during daytime hours except when they impede ADA access and confiscating materials in excess of 60 gallons unless those materials meet the definition of hazardous materials. Additionally, 200 handwashing stations are deployed across the city along with mobile shower stations and restrooms.
While many individuals are at home adhering to the “Safer at Home” order, grocery store workers and numerous others face risks to provide essential services. City Council introduced two pieces of legislation aimed at protecting grocery store workers and those at LAX. These measures ensure employers provide adequate training and resources to keep employees safe. Additionally, it calls for free COVID-19 testing for these workers when available.
“During this pandemic, it’s important for us to acknowledge and protect our workers,” said Councilmember Harris-Dawson. “South Los Angeles is already feeling the economic impact of COVID-19 and I along with my colleagues have introduced legislation to protect our families during this health crisis. It’s important for our community to stand together and keep fighting.”
For up to date information please visit the Council District Eight website at mhdc8.com.