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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Met Gala 2021 Is Happening And Amanda Gorman Is Set To Host The America-Themed Fashion Event


Met Gala 2021 Is Happening And Amanda Gorman Is Set To Host The America-Themed Fashion Event

Alex Wong/Getty Images

It’s 2021 and the Met Gala is back this year – after being canceled in 2020 thanks to a pandemic – with superstar poet Amanda Gorman being eyed to host the fashion event of the year. Given the 23-year-old’s show-stopping performance at the inauguration, the theme fittingly will be a celebration of America and American designers.

The Met Gala will return in 2021 with a very special guest as host.

Vogue’s “Oscars of Fashion” famously takes place on the first Monday of May. However, this year it’s been pushed back to September 13, in hopes that life will have returned to something closer to normal by then.

Epic poet Amanda Gorman is reportedly in talks to co-host the event alongside Tom Ford, who is the academy’s president. The breakout star of President Biden’s inauguration, Gorman is on the cover of the magazine’s May issue and the subject of a relentlessly glowing profile inside.

The black-tie gala, which raises funds for Met’s Costume Institute, is normally fashion’s biggest night and sees guests from Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B to Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and even Maluma.

The event was canceled in 2020 thanks to a global pandemic.

The world’s most glamorous party was canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19, which was (and still is) raging the planet at the time. There was a virtual event in place of the 2020 event, with celebs like Julia Roberts, Priyanka Chopra and Amanda Seyfried showing off their looks from home and stars like Mindy Kaling and Adam Rippon taking part in the #MetGalaChallenge, recreating looks from past years.

This year’s event will draw inspiration from all things USA.

The theme of this year’s Met Gala has not been announced, but Page Six says the night will be devoted to honoring America and American designers, following the 18-month-long COVID crisis in this country.

Recent past themes for the event have included “Camp: Notes on Fashion” (2019), “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” (2018), and “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between (2017). And don’t forget 2016, when Zayn Malik wore robot-arms to Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.

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This Is How Cuba Is Developing Its Own COVID Vaccine When It Can Barely Get Daily Necessities To The Island

Things That Matter

This Is How Cuba Is Developing Its Own COVID Vaccine When It Can Barely Get Daily Necessities To The Island

Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images

Cuba has long been a biotech juggernaut in the Caribbean. When health crises emerge around the globe or there’s a medical disaster, Cuba is often one of the first nation’s to send medical staff and emergency workers to help. Its medical team has become part of the country’s diplomacy.

But the Coronavirus pandemic has brought economic devastation to a country already facing severe economic issues. Many on the island struggle to even find daily necessities like Tylenol or Band-Aids yet the Cuban government is just steps away from developing its own vaccine against COVID-19. How is this possible?

Cuban researches are making their own Coronavirus vaccine and seeing great results.

Currently on the island, there are five vaccine candidates in development, with two already in late-stage trials. Cuban officials say they’re developing cheap and easy-to-store serums. They are able to last at room temperature for weeks, and in long-term storage as high as 46.4 degrees, potentially making them a viable option for low-income, tropical countries that have been pushed aside by bigger, wealthier nations in the international race for coronavirus vaccines.

If they’re successful and developing and rolling out the vaccine, Cuba – a country where the average scientific researcher earns about $250 a month — could be among the first nations in the world to reach herd immunity, putting it in a position to lure vaccine tourists and to export surpluses of what officials claim could reach 100 million doses by year’s end.

If they pull this off, it would be a big win for the communist government.

Achieving success would be an against-the-odds feat of medical science and a public relations win for the isolated country of 11 million people. Cuba was just added back to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism in the final days of the Trump administration.

It could also make Cuba the pharmacist for nations lumped by Washington into the so-called “Axis of Evil.” Countries like Iran and Venezuela have already inked vaccine deals with Havana. Iran has even agreed to host a Phase 3 trial of one of Cuba’s most promising candidates — Soberana 2 — as part of a technology transfer agreement that could see millions of doses manufactured in Iran.

“We have great confidence in Cuban medical science and biotechnology,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told The Washington Post this week. “It will not only be fundamental for Venezuela, but for the Americas. It will be the true solution for our people.”

So how is Cuba managing to pull this off despite all the challenges they face?

Cuba is an authoritarian, one-party state with strict controls on everything from free speech and political activism to social media and LGBTQ rights. But the island has always invested heavily in education and healthcare, which has led to an unusually sophisticated biotechnology industry for a small developing country, with at least 31 research companies and 62 factories with over 20,000 workers.

Should Cuba’s vaccines succeed, its researchers will have overcome even more hurdles than their peers in Western labs — including shortages of equipment, spare parts and other supplies, due in part to U.S. sanctions

A successful vaccine could also become a vital new source of revenue for Cuba, which has been suffering a brutal economic crisis that has citizens waiting hours in line to buy scarce food, soap and toothpaste. The economy worsened under Trump-era sanctions that tightened the long-standing U.S. economic embargo of Cuba by curbing remittances, scaling back U.S. flights, ending cruise ship passenger traffic and further complicating Cuba’s access to the global financial system. President Biden has called for a possible return to Obama-era policies, but he has made no such moves yet.

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