Rep. Karen Bass (Courtesy Photo)

With the House’s passing of HEROES Act on May 16, a bill created in effort to start negotiations on the next relief effort to the COVID-19 pandemic, many questions arise on how the legislation will aid in federal relief and assist to combat COVID-19. Representative Karen Bass held a telephone town hall on May 15, 2020 to discuss the importance of the bill and how it would affect the community at large. Discussions around supplemental federal funding and the initiatives surrounding Los Angeles and its constituents shed light for citizens affected by the pandemic. She was joined by Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson of Los Angeles City Council, Sheila Kuehl of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, the Executive Director of Local Initiatives Support Corp, Los Angeles office.

Councilmember Marcqueece Harris-Dawson began the call exploring the actions being taken for renters and mom-and-pop landlords alike. “The city of L.A. is still under emergency order, as you all know, so we Have all of our quality of life protections in place no ticketing for parking on street sweeping days, no utility shutoffs. Even if you are behind in in rent on your bill, we also have an eviction moratorium,” he states. “That means that you cannot be evicted for failure to pay rent due to COVID. That moratorium will be in place as long as the emergency is on and then, once the emergency is off, is off, you’ll have 12 months to make up the back rent that that you didn’t, you couldn’t pay during the crisis.” In addition to the eviction moratorium, Councilmember Harris-Dawson expounded on the increase in affected citizens within the African American and Latino communities throughout Los Angeles. With the focus on three goals – personal protective equipment, accessible testing, and culturally specific education and training – will help to flatten the curve.

Rep. Karen Bass

Los Angeles County is continually taking preventative measures to ensure the safety and economic stability of its residents. Along with the eviction moratorium, L,A. County Disaster Help Center has been established to assist landlords, small business owners, and employees looking for information on available resources, programs, and policies that are built to serve. Information on food banks for seniors and families in need, mental health resources, and federal assistance are available. Sheila Kuhl of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors reported on the slow-trickled, responsible opening of businesses, outside recreational areas, and beaches are beginning to make way; the safety of the county is dependent upon the citizens to maintain social distancing and practice safe actions whilst in public.

Loans and grants focusing on the support of small businesses and community members are becoming more accessible due to the work of community leaders, such as Thrash-Ntuk, the executive director of LISC. Initiatives such as the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, Abundance Grant, The Paycheck Protection Program, that is available to not only small businesses but also sole proprietors. Thrash-Ntuk reported that any citizen that is contributing to the economy is covered through pandemic unemployment assistance, a fact that will help to stabilize many self-workers who are unaware of their possibilities for monetary support during this time. “Let’s say you’re a 1099 worker. And you know, you don’t have a W-2 and the kind of work that you do. You’re a casual worker, maybe you’re working in the gig economy, you qualify for pandemic unemployment assistance. Because of the congresswoman’s leadership, we now have the kinds of policies that ensure that workers who are participating in our economy and various ways are able to access help and support.”

Representative Karen Bass’s telephone town hall shed light on many available resources for the citizens of Los Angeles County as she took the time to vote for HEROES Act on behalf of her community.