Garcetti proposes help for low-income families, businesses recovering from pandemic

ByLeanne Suter and staff KABC logo
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Mayor Garcetti delivers State of the City address
Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed new programs to help Angelenos struggling financially during the pandemic in his State of the City address Monday.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed a series of new programs to help Angelenos struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic while also seeking to address racial injustices of the past as he delivered his annual State of the City address on Monday.

Garcetti is proposing a guaranteed basic income pilot project that would pay $1,000 a month to 2,000 Los Angeles households living in poverty.

"We're betting that one small but steady investment for Angeleno households will pay large dividends for health and stability across our city and light a fire across our nation," Garcetti said.

That would be in addition to a previous allocation of $6 million to a program that gives $1,000 a month to 500 single-parent households in Councilman Curren Price's district in South Los Angeles. That program's funding was allocated from money cut from the Los Angeles Police Department's budget.

Garcetti is also proposing the city begin studying the issue of slavery reparations for Black Angelenos.

The city would also launch a $12 million L.A. REPAIR - Reforms for Equity and Public Acknowledgement of Institutional Racism - program to address racial injustices of the past by investing "to support job creation and provide organizational backing for community intervention, racial healing, justice and reconciliation.

The mayor's speech represented a preview of the proposed 2021-22 budget he is sending to the City Council on Tuesday.

Mayor Eric Garcetti is proposing a guaranteed basic income pilot program that would pay $1,000 a month to 2,000 Los Angeles households living in poverty.

Similar to last year, when the speech took place just weeks into the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, the speech was an understated event compared to the usual pomp and circumstance that surrounds the State of the City address.

Among other highlights:

  • Offering "comeback checks" of $5,000 to 5,000 businesses to help them pay off debts, buy equipment and take other steps to recover from the financial hit of being fully or partially closed during the pandemic.
  • Making outdoor dining permanent in many neighborhoods.
  • Cutting red tape for restaurants,including speeding up the process to obtain alcohol permits, cutting fees and suspending some valet and off-site parking requirements.
  • Paying DACA fees for 505 Dreamers in Los Angeles community colleges.
  • Installing WiFi access points in 300 underserved neighborhoods.
  • Declaring a moratorium on new oil and gas drilling in Los Angeles.
  • Banning citywide styrofoam and single-use foodware.
  • Establishing a memorial to an 1871 hate incident that resulted in the massacre of 19 Chinese Angelenos.
  • Putting up memorials to COVID victims around the city.
  • Spending $950 million to address homelessness.
  • The proposal also pledges an additional $300 million from the American Rescue Plan toward L.A.'s Emergency Rental Assistance, bringing the total amount of direct assistance for rent, utilities and other basic needs during the COVID-19 pandemic to $700 million, Garcetti said.

    "But the pandemic didn't start our housing crisis, and our success in eliminating so much rent won't end it,'' he said before announcing that the budget will dedicate more than $950 million to the fight against homelessness.

    "To put that number in perspective, when I became mayor, we spent about $10 million on treating homelessness,'' Garcetti said.

    He said the key to ending homelessness is renting, buying and building homes, and he called on the state to invest $16 billion over four years in California cities' housing and services. He also called for the federal government to declare a "Right to Housing" policy and fully fund Section 8 vouchers to "help make homelessness a thing of the past."

    Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has been working to create a Right to Housing policy in Los Angeles, praised the proposal for focusing on solutions to the homelessness crisis.

    "Meaningful change begins with action. I applaud Mayor Garcetti for understanding that Angelinos are most concerned about the number of homeless we see in parkways, in the streets, and living in vehicles and proposing an unprecedented commitment of resources to allow us to scale up our response,'' he said.

    Garcetti also pledged money to clean up Los Angeles through a Clean L.A. Jobs plan that would provide employment to hundreds of young Angelenos to clean up the city and help them find a pathway to a full-time career. His budget also commits $5 million to provide 400 students with a year of service through the Angeleno Corps program. Participants will be able to work as a tutor, arts educator, help immigrant Angelenos, help reduce the digital divide, or support community-based health and environmental justice programs.

    The mayor's spending proposal would fully fund the city's newly created Climate Emergency Mobilization Office and during the speech, Garcetti committed to getting the city to 80% renewable energy and 97% carbon-free energy by 2030, six years earlier than the city's previous commitment. He committed to 100% carbon-free energy by 2035, which is 10 years ahead of schedule.

    The budget proposal also includes spending to help the city "end the pandemic" with $75 million for vaccines, testing and personal protective equipment.

    City News Service contributed to this report.