Councilman Herb Wesson has called for the City of Los Angeles to launch a transitional public/private collaborative “New Deal” style jobs program – titled the People’s Bailout Los Angeles – designed to train and hire out-of-work Angelenos as community health workers and contact tracers in order to fill gaps in our inadequate health care system and provide meaningful employment to Angelenos who desperately need it during this economic recession.
In addition to the call to establish a jobs program in Los Angeles, Wesson, alongside Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, is also calling for the City to identify publicly-owned land that may be donated to a community land trust organization in each respective Council District, for the purpose of meeting the needs (affordable housing, recreational green space, community garden, economic development etc.) of neighborhoods across the community as identified by the residents of that area.
“We cannot restart our economy by simply “re-opening” our cities and businesses and assume that the economic inequalities that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic will work themselves out without serious government intervention,” Wesson said. “With hundreds of millions of dollars in forthcoming stimulus money the City of Los Angeles should invest in the creation of a new public health workforce to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic and rescue the economy.”
Wesson envisions a community health worker serving as a liaison between the community and the health care, government, and social service systems. When an infectious disease like COVID-19 hits, community health workers on the front lines can have a life-saving impact, providing advocacy and support to civilians to help them improve their lifestyle and connect them with their proper healthcare options. Community health workers can also help track infection through contact tracing, set up video conferencing software for telemedicine appointments, check on high-risk patients with chronic conditions, transport food and supplies, and conduct outreach and education. According to Wesson, this work is vital in the communities that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We must acknowledge and correct our past wrongs for us to heal and move together as one community – one city into the future,” Wesson said. “One way we can make progress in this endeavor and work to correct systemic and institutional racism is by developing opportunities for our communities to access generational wealth, one of the lingering effects of our history that has intentionally left African Americans, Indigenous people and the Latinx community on the outside looking in perpetuated poverty, unemployment, shorter lifespans, a lower quality of education and healthcare, and higher than average incarceration rates.”
The motions will now go to the newly established Ad Hoc Committee on COVID-19 relief for consideration.