“I remain committed to working with my colleagues and the Biden/Harris administration to ensure more relief,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters in Thursday’s Town Hall.
A town hall held via telephone, provided vital information regarding pandemic policy changes, finances of community projects, as well as COVID-19 vaccination efforts and updates across Los Angeles. Director of Los Angeles Department of Public Health, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, and staff directors at the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services, Charla Ouertatani and Kristofor Erickson, were among the participating speakers.
To open the meeting, Congresswoman Waters (CA-43), Chair of the House Financial Services Committee said, “We successfully negotiated a new round of stimulus checks of up to $600 dollars per person, and extended unemployment benefits to March 14.”
The Congresswoman discussed President Biden’s upcoming proposal, pledging his efforts to increase the second round of stimulus checks, to increase the minimum wage, to allow more benefits for renters and property owners whom are affected by the pandemic, and also a $400 billion fund that will expand mass vaccinations and reopens schools.
With more set on the horizon, Congresswoman’s town hall was mostly focused the 43rd District’s immediate access and awareness of the multi-billion-dollar fund passed in late December—2020. “I am proud to have secured $25 billion in emergency rental assistance—we need much more,” Waters said in late-December. She was a central endorser of the $25 billion fund, equipping the 43rd District and other renters’ eligibility for financial benefits—to assist with unpaid rent/utility payments, grant free access to case management services as well as tenant—landlord mediation.
“Once you qualify for assistance, an administrative entity will send a payment directly to the landlord,” stated U.S.House Financial Services Committee Staff Director Charla Ouertatani. “Property owners can also apply for assistance or apply on behalf of the tenant. As far as who is eligible to get this money—it is not for all renters. It is only for renters that have a household income of not more than 80% of the area median income.” Applications also require proof of housing instability, or have one or more household members dependent on unemployment benefits.
Regarding the amount of funding to be received, “Los Angeles County is receiving $160 million, and Los Angeles City is receiving $118 million.” In regards of how to apply, Ouertatani said, “In Los Angeles—HCIDLA, is still in the process of setting up that program, but hopefully more information will be coming out from their office soon.”
The week of January 11, 2021, SBA, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, reopened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), accepting applications for a First Draw PPP Loan until March 31, 2021. “The first PPP Loan worth $15 billion will be going through small community banks, small credit unions; and [another] $15 billion will be going through CDFI, MDI SBA, or micro loan intermediary,” said Ouertatani.
“Chairman Waters secured, as a part of the most recent COVID-19 package, $12 Billion for Minority Depository Institutions (MDI) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI),” told by U.S. House Financial Services Committee Staff Director,Kristofor Erickson. He said, “These institutions play a critical role as lenders in low-and moderate-income communities, and communities of color … it is a critical role in helping businesses minimize some of the economic impact. As of August 2020, we saw 432 CDFI’s and MDI’s have provided more than $16.4 billion of PPP loans to over 221,000 small businesses.”
In essence, globally, we are all in pandemic limbo; a state of nervous flux with people clinching onto any sense of previous normalcy. Generally, just as concerned as if it were day-one of theoutbreak, all speculating the same question: When is will this pandemic end?
According to Director of Los Angeles Department of Public Health, Dr. Ferrer, she said, “We’ve seen these investments and relationships result in fewer cases and deaths. Even as L.A. County experienced this recent surge, the rising cases that led to increased death among the general populationdid not result in a steep increase in cases or deaths among residence at the skilled nursing facilities … reductions in cases and deaths at our skilled nursing facilities has been amplified by our vaccination efforts.”
Dr. Ferrer stated that, “Today, about 75 percentage [of staff and residents] at the skilled nursing facilities have been vaccinated … I’m happy to report that not only do we have about 300 vaccinations sites where people can get vaccinated this week, we have administered over 1,000,000 doses of vaccine in L.A. County, and 80 percent of the vaccines that have been allocated or in somebody’s arms already.” At this time, vaccinations are only offered to healthcare workers, hospital residence and people aged 65 years or older.
For more information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine,visit www.vaccinatelacounty.com, to check the status of your stimulus check, visit www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment, for more details on housing assistance visit www.hcidla.lacity.org, and for details regarding small business applications visit www.sba.gov/ppp.