DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- $1.3 billion in federal aid will soon come to L.A. from President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan. Residents and advocates are demanding that city leaders keep communities hit hardest by the pandemic in mind.
"Put the money in the community where it needs to be," said Desiree Edwards, owner of Watts Coffee House. Edwards was one of many who joined a rally in downtown L.A. Wednesday, demanding a fair and equitable share of COVID relief funding.
"You know I don't know a whole lot about politics. I know it's a lot of bureaucracy, but I know a thing or two about humanity and that's i am here to support," Edwards added.
"We deserve education, we deserve a chance, that's really what this is about this is about getting a chance," said Kevin Miles with the Brotherhood Crusade.
Community advocates are calling on L.A. city leaders to spend the money in a way that's reflective of those who have been hardest hit by the pandemic - poor and working class families they say are often ignored.
"Why are we in the situation right now, pre-COVID it was like this, why it shouldn't be this is a great city of Los Angeles, California. There's no way people should be living in despair like this," Edwards said.
Meantime, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez introduced a motion calling for the city to consider using that $1.3 billion to help women, families, children and underserved communities.
"We cannot simply balance the budget and return to business as usual,'' she said in a statement. "This pandemic has highlighted systemic inequities throughout this city. We must use this budget and any future federal funding, to lift up women and these often overlooked, under-served communities so they can not only thrive but can survive god forbid we have another crisis.''
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The motion, if passed, would have the Council consider the following priorities when deciding how to spend the federal funding:
-- focusing on children and families, including supporting moms with child care and family care;
-- supporting women entrepreneurs and women organizations;
-- creating opportunities for youth employment;
-- continuing universal basic income efforts;
-- continuing community safety efforts;
-- addressing housing security and homeless prevention, including through eviction defense and additional affordable housing;
-- securing the city's financial health;
-- restoring city services; and
-- maximizing county, state and federal resources to address inequities in the city's recovery.
The motion notes that communities of color and low-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles have been the hardest hit by the pandemic, including in number of cases and deaths.
"In January, the COVID-19 death rate among Latinos in L.A. County was three times worse than the rate for white residents,'' the motion stated.
"On the job front, according to the Center for American Progress, women have been hardest hit with four times as many women as men dropping out of the labor force.''
The motion also notes the effect the pandemic has had on children, many of whom face housing and food insecurity and struggle with academic support.
"The work to disrupt the disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities is urgent and necessary,'' the motion stated.
Martinez held a news conference Wednesday morning with Councilwoman Nithya Raman and Councilmen Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Curren Price, along with community leaders, to urge the city to adopt an equitable funding plan that prioritizes communities hardest hit by COVID-19. Price seconded Martinez' motion.
City News Service contributed to this report.