Garcetti outlines steps to help renters, city's economy during COVID-19 crisis

Mayor Eric Garcetti appeared on Eyewitness Newsmakers to discuss coronavirus issues such as mask enforcement and rent relief.

Monday, July 20, 2020
Mayor Garcetti answers questions on COVID-19 crisis
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Mayor Eric Garcetti appeared on Eyewitness Newsmakers to discuss coronavirus issues such as mask enforcement and rent relief.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Applications closed at midnight Friday for renters who want to get into the city of Los Angeles $103 million rent relief lottery.

On Eyewitness Newsmakers, Mayor Eric Garcetti said the response shows how desperately it's needed during the COVID-19 crisis.

"We had about 140,000 applications the first day and about 200,000 by the end of the week," Garcetti said.

They know there will be duplicates. As soon as the applicants are verified, distribution should be fast.

"This will help about 50,000 households; over 150,000 Angelenos on top of the hundred thousand that we gave Angeleno cards to the people who were affected by that," the mayor said, "So we are very optimistic this will do a lot of good work and it's the biggest in the country."

Meanwhile, mom-and-pop landlords are begging for assistance if they can't collect rent. They ask the mayor when they can start evictions.

"Evictions are not allowed. So the short answer is no time soon," he said.

There may be legislation at the state level to prohibit those evictions after COVID-19 comes to an end.

"That said, we are not heartless about the condition of so many mom-and-pop landlords," Garcetti added. "It is why we designed this to go straight to landlords and we're looking at everything from DWP and other places we can help landlords after this is done."

The mask debate continues.

The mayor says to call 311 if someone presents a fake mask "exemption card" at a business. There is no such thing. Wearing a mask is the law.

"It's no mask, no service," Garcetti said. "That's an enforceable thing. We also have masks that we can help provide."

If someone cannot wear a mask, a business can help them.

"So I want to see government that first educates, then encourages before we enforce. You know, going straight to enforcement isn't the right way, nor will we ever have enough people, (for enforcement) but we will enforce and make no mistake, there's been dozens of cases that we've referred through the city attorney. Every day, people who have let us know where businesses are flouting the rules or individuals. This is life and death."

With online learning this fall, parents with no childcare say they can't work if children remain home.

The mayor said unemployment assistance needs to be federal - and bipartisan.

"I've been pushing, with a coalition of mayors, bipartisan Democrat and Republican mayors across the country saying, absolutely extend unemployment benefits, help state and local governments, make sure that is the additional $600 that were put into the unemployment benefits, and look at the care economy or the caring economy. How do we provide child care or some sort of education that's safe for our children?"

Garcetti continues to warn that stricter Safer At Home orders could return, but he does not believe the outbreak of COVID-19 in the 18-40 age group is from the social justice protests.

"It doesn't look like the protests were a big part of the spread, but I think, as we've heard from Dr. Ferrer, it may have been a small part of it."

He added: "Mostly, it's all of us who are getting together with folks outside of our household. I can't say this strongly enough: Stick with your household. If you go out to a park, that's with your household. If you're going out to dinner, that's with your household. Don't mix households right now. Or we may risk even the level of openness that we have today."

Are vacationers from out of state bringing in COVID-19? Should we close the county or state borders like they've done in Australia?

Garcetti says we only need to look in our own backyard for the culprits.

"We know that this is a virus that doesn't care where we draw our borders, it doesn't care about the politics within our counties," he said, adding, "All it cares about is how it can spread. And so taking the regional approach now is the right approach, but I think a lot of people think this is something that's being imported in. It's not."