Things That Matter

Los Angeles Launches Application For Rent Assistance Because Of COVID

Update: Los Angeles residents have a chance to ear rent assistance through a new program set forth by the city. Through Friday (July 17) Los Angeles residents are able to apply for rent assistance if they are facing financial injury from COVID-19.

Los Angeles has created the Emergency Rental Assistance Subsidy Program to help Angelenos struggling during the pandemic.

The program does not guarantee that all Angeleno households that need assistance will get it. Instead, 50,000 households in the Los Angeles area will receive assistance based on a lottery system. The City of LA is allocating $103 million to help with those they choose for the rental assistance.

“We know people throughout the city of Los Angeles need assistance, particularly our working poor and disenfranchised communities, who are hit hardest by both the health and economic impacts of COVID-19,” L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez told Los Angeles Times. “Demand will be high and serve as a reminder that the federal government must offer billions more in housing assistance if we are going to help all who need assistance to remain in their homes during and after this pandemic.”

If you need assistance, you can apply online or call the application hotline, at (844) 944-1868, between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Renters with hearing or speech impairments can call (844) 325-1398 during the same hours.

Original: The Coronavirus pandemic has hit the economy extremely hard. Millions of people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic – in fact, we’re seeing figures not seen since the Great Depression during the 1930s.

The Latino community is particularly vulnerable to unemployment as many of the jobs being lost are in the service sector as shops, hotels, and restaurants close their doors amid widespread stay-at-home orders. According to a recent poll, more than one in three Latino households have experienced job loss due to the virus.

Obviously, these job losses are making it nearly impossible for people to afford daily essentials like food and medicines, let alone rent. If you find yourself struggling to pay next month’s rent – here’s what you need to know.

Record-breaking job losses and uncertain futures are forcing people to make tough decisions.

Across the country, tenant advocates and housing lawyers are sounding alarms that an increasing number of renters will not be able to pay rent on May 1st. What’s more, they are concerned many renters will lose their homes as suspensions on evictions phase out and rent relief is not widely available.

“We know that when the economy goes into decline, people of color always bear the brunt,’’ said Teresa Candori, communications director for the National Urban League told NBC Latino. “We will be fighting to make sure the most vulnerable communities are not an afterthought.”

In the last month, more than 16 million people applied for jobless benefits, according to the Labor Department. That number is expected to increase, and the unemployment rate may ultimately reach 32%.

Even though the coronavirus has significantly altered most aspects of daily life, one thing that hasn’t changed is the cost of living. Though some workers are fortunate to still have their jobs, many – especially people of color – will be forced to make tough decisions about which bills get paid.

First, you need to protect yourself and know your rights as a tenant.

It’s always best to be prepared. Even outside of this pandemic, you should know what rights you have as a renter. The laws are different from city to city and state to state; the best thing to do is google something like “tenants rights (NAME OF YOUR TOWN)” and find a local organization to connect with.

Right now, many governments have issues eviction moratoriums. For example, New York suspended evictions for residential and commercial tenants affected by the coronavirus for 90 days. Housing courts are closed so you can’t be taken to court for nonpayment of rent for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

Similarly, in California, there is a moratorium on evictions for failure to pay rent through the end of May. However, you have to prove that you’re unable to pay rent due to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. You also have to write your landlord within seven days of rent being due, declaring your inability to pay and providing an explanation as to why.

Talk to your landlord about setting up a payment plan.

Credit: Pixabay

Any reasonable landlord knows that people are going to have a hard time making rent. A few have even waived payments for April in recognition of that fact, and while your landlord is not likely among them, they might accept partial payment or agree to set up a payment plan. That conversation should be started as soon as possible.

There’s no way to hide from your landlord—you should reach out now if you think you’re going to have a problem making rent by May 1, and you shouldn’t avoid talking to your landlord if you haven’t been able to pay for April.

If your landlord does agree to some kind of payment plan, make sure that the precise terms are documented and signed off on by both you and your landlord. This should include how much your modified rent will be, how long that change in rent will last, and whether you will be expected to pay back any deferred payments.

Also, it’s important to know that you have a bit of leverage given the economic situation.

So aside from the many eviction moratoriums enacted across the country, even if your landlord could evict you for not paying rent – who are they going to replace you with? Right now, amid a global health pandemic, isn’t exactly an ideal time to be looking for new tenants. And with so many people out of work struggling to pay their current rent, there’s not many likely new applications out there either.

Now, you should definitely use this leverage if you have to but don’t be too pushy with it – you want the landlord on your side.

Lastly, look for help and stay on top of the news.

In March, the federal government passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package that included direct payments of $1,200 to millions of Americans. However, that aid left out millions of others – largely already vulnerable, immigrant populations. You can check to see if you’re eligible and the status of your stimulus payment here.

If you’re in California, the state has made available stimulus payments of up to $500 to undocumented residents. And cities from Oakland to Dallas and Miami have all instituted programs to help those affected by the virus pay for their housing expenses.

You may also consider finding help from local food banks (however, those too are under extreme strain) or from mutual aid groups, where strangers help those in need.

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The President Of Mexico Has Tested Positive For Covid-19 After A Year Of Downplaying The Virus

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The President Of Mexico Has Tested Positive For Covid-19 After A Year Of Downplaying The Virus

Hector Villas / Getty Images

Since the very beginning of the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has largely downplayed the severity of the crisis. Despite record-setting deaths across Mexico, the president continued to hold large rallies, rarely uses face masks and continues to be very hands on with his supporters. Many of his detractors grouped him in with Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jaír Bolsonaro in his poor response to the pandemic.

Mexico’s President AMLO has tested positive for Covid-19 and is experiencing light symptoms.

In a tweet on Sunday evening, AMLO revealed that he had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. From his official Twitter account, he said his symptoms were mild and that he was receiving medical treatment.

“I regret to inform you that I have contracted Covid-19. The symptoms are mild, but I am already receiving medical treatment. As always, I am optimistic. We will move forward,” Lopez Obrador wrote.

Despite his diagnosis, the president plans to continue business as usual. He plans to continue with his duties from the Palacio Nacional, which include conducting a planned phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the topic of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine Monday. He added on Twitter, that “I will be conducting all public affairs from the National Palace. For example, tomorrow I will take a call from President Vladimir Putin, because irrespective of friendly relationships, there is a possibility that they will send us the Sputnik V vaccine.”

AMLO has taken a very hands off approach to his country’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

AMLO, 67-years-old, has rarely been seen wearing a mask and continued to travel extensively across the country aboard commercial flights – putting both his health and those around him at risk.

He has also resisted locking down the economy, noting the devastating effect it would have on so many Mexicans who live day to day. And because of that, Mexico has one of the highest death rates in the world. Early in the pandemic, asked how he was protecting Mexico, AMLO removed two religious amulets from his wallet and proudly showed them off.

“The protective shield is the ‘Get thee behind me, Satan,’” AMLO said, reading off the inscription on the amulet, “Stop, enemy, for the Heart of Jesus is with me.”

In November, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, urged Mexico’s leaders be serious about the coronavirus and set examples for its citizens, saying that “Mexico is in bad shape” with the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Mexico continues to experience the worst effects yet of the global health crisis.

Credit: Ismael Rosas / Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Thanks to a lack of national leadership, Mexico is one of the 17 countries that has reported more than one million cases of Covid-19. Since early October, newly confirmed cases and deaths have been reaching record levels, with recent daily numbers some of the highest since the beginning the pandemic.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Mexico has recorded at least 1,752,347 Covid-19 cases and 149,084 people have died from the virus in the country.

In hardest-hit Mexico City, nearly 30 public hospitals report they have reached 100% percent capacity, and many others are approaching that mark. The city’s Mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, has urged residents to not go out unless absolutely necessary. In December, Mexico City and the state of Mexico were placed into “red level,” the highest measure on the country’s stoplight alert system for Covid-19 restrictions. The tighter measures included the closure of indoor dining, with only essential sectors like transport, energy, health and construction remaining open.

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Just After Congress Approves $600 Stimulus Checks, Trump Threatens To Veto The Bill

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Just After Congress Approves $600 Stimulus Checks, Trump Threatens To Veto The Bill

Pixabay

Updated: December 23, 2020

Just days after the U.S. Congress approved legislation that would send millions of Americans much-needed stimulus checks – even though they were only $600 – Donald Trump has thrown the entire plan into chaos.

Donald Trump threatens to veto historic spending bill.

Trump is holding a veto threat over recently passed, bipartisan legislation that was aimed at stimulating a suffering economy. Trump says that he wants lawmakers to boost the $600 direct payments to checks for $2,000 but his own party is basically united against increasing the size of checks.

Many point out that Trump is simply holding up the legislation, not for the stimulus checks, but because he objects to other parts of the law. Within the spending package, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle approved spending for arts and cultural programs as well as aide to developing countries across the world.

Original Story Published: December 18, 2020

So it looks like millions of Americans may end up getting that long overdue second stimulus check after all. So long as Congress doesn’t screw things up again.

As part of the latest round of negotiation between Democrats and Republicans, it looks a like a proposal for $600 direct payments is back on the table. However, $600 is literally half of the amount that was sent out to millions of Americans back in April and May.

A new stimulus package could include direct payments to millions of Americans.

Congressional leaders are considering a new deal to help stimulate the economy which has been battered by the Coronavirus pandemic. And although it appeared, as recently as last week, that a second stimulus check was off the table, that seems to have changed.

The new deal under consideration included new stimulus checks and enhanced federal unemployment benefits, according to reports by Politico. Even President Trump said in a TV interview over the weekend that he wants stimulus checks in the deal, saying he wants to “see checks—for more money than they’re talking about—going to people.”

Millions of workers aren’t getting any help from the largest emergency aid deal in US history.

The bill, known as the CARES Act, delivers direct payments to most taxpayers, vastly expands unemployment benefits, and makes testing for the virus free, among other provisions.

But although unauthorized immigrants are no more immune from the effects of the current crisis, the stimulus bill conspicuously leaves them out in the cold — potentially putting them at greater economic and health risk, and impeding public health efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus.

There are an estimated 10.7 million undocumented immigrants in the USA who are ineligible for emergency federal benefits or state unemployment insurance because they don’t have valid work authorization. 

That’s left an extra layer of anxiety for immigrants without legal status who have lost their jobs or seen work hours reduced amid the statewide shutdown of “nonessential” businesses. Many turned to local organizations for help to put food on the table and pay other expenses. 

Undocumented residents are already at greater risk of being affected by Covid-19 because of inadequate resources and access to health care.

The unauthorized worker population is particularly vulnerable to the virus due to inadequate access to health care. Noncitizens are significantly more likely to be uninsured compared to US citizens, which may dissuade them from seeking medical care if they contract the virus.

Compounding matters are the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies — including wide-scale immigration raids and a rule that can penalize green card applicants for using Medicaid — which have made noncitizens afraid to access care. These factors pose a problem for America’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 12,000 in the US as of April 7.

Where the government is failing, advocates and organizations are stepping up to help.

Some immigrant advocates lobby for the undocumented to be included by allowing payments to those who file taxes using individual tax identification numbers, which are often used by workers without legal immigration status. 

“They should include at least the individual taxpayers,” said Diana Mejia, founder of the Wind of the Spirit, an organization that helps immigrants in New Jersey’s Morris County.  “They are paying taxes,” she added in an interview with CNN.

Filers who use ITINs contribute about $11.74 billion in state and local taxes each year, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington think tank.

Aside from millions of undocumented migrants, millions of others are also being left out of the stimulus:

Credit: Department of Treasury

College Students and 17-Year-Olds: If someone else claims you as a dependent on their taxes, you won’t get your own check. Parents will get an extra $500 payment per child, but that’s only for kids under 17.

Most 17-year-olds, some young adults and many of the country’s roughly 20 million college students are claimed by their parents as dependents. They won’t get checks, and their parents won’t get an extra $500.

Disabled People: People who get disability benefits from the Social Security Administration or Veterans Affairs are eligible for the payments — but not disabled adults who are claimed as dependents by their parents or other relatives on their taxes

Seniors Who Live With Family: Senior citizens who are on Social Security or make less than the income cap are eligible. But the “dependent” rule applies to them, too. Some seniors who live with their adult children or other relatives are claimed by them as dependents on their taxes. Those seniors won’t get checks.

Immigrants are eligible for some free testing.

Credit: Pixabay

Here’s one thing the bill does offer to unauthorized immigrants: free coronavirus testing at government-funded community health centers through a $1 billion federal program. But some community health centers have already reported shortages of tests.

There is also a larger, state-level testing program funded through Medicaid, but that’s only available to Medicaid-eligible immigrants — green card holders who have lived in the US for at least five years, immigrants who come to the US on humanitarian grounds such as asylum, members of the military and their families, and, in certain states, children and pregnant women with lawful immigration status. Those groups, however, make up only a small proportion of immigrants living in the US. 

US Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that it won’t consider use of free testing services when evaluating whether immigrants will likely end up relying on public benefits under the “public charge” rule, which went into effect in February

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