News flash! Every week, following the Board meeting, Supervisor Kuehl picks five items you might find interesting, important, and/or fun. It’s your way to get a quick rundown of several highlights of the meeting in no more than 5 minutes! Looking for more? Click here to get the entire agenda.
LA County’s experience continues to worsen in the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Director of Public Health and Director of Health Services joined the Board on Tuesday for an honest and in-depth presentation on where we are and what we need to do to save lives and relieve our overburdened healthcare system.
Dr. Ferrer gave updates on the County’s vaccine distribution, which currently remains focused on Healthcare workers who come into frequent contact with the virus by nature of their job. She also spoke, at the Board’s request, concerning steps that must be taken to prevent, cite, and shut down “super-spreader” events.
On the Health Services side, Dr. Christina Ghaly reviewed our serious staffing challenges and how we are tapping into State and Federal resources to support our hospitals. As of yet, our supplies and hospitals have managed to meet the significant challenges we are facing, but unless the public changes their behavior, the situation will continue to worsen.
The bottom line is this– we need everyone to stay home as much as possible, so we can slow community transmission and relieve some of the pressure on our healthcare infrastructure.
Helping LA County Renters
When we call upon County residents to stay safer at home, we also need to do everything in our power to ensure they can remain in those homes even with the financial strain the pandemic has caused. This week, the Board passed a pair of motions to help protect tenants, prevent evictions, and provide financial relief.
The first motion, authored by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn, extends the County’s Rent Relief program through 2021 and modifies it slightly so that tenants can receive direct payment when their landlords refuse to participate.
Next, we passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis to strengthen and clarify tenant protections under the Eviction Moratorium and extend the moratorium through February. You can read more on that here!
Empowering Indigent Defense Services
It is no secret that the public defenders who work tirelessly to provide quality legal representation to those who cannot afford attorneys are often overburdened with high caseloads. On top of that, the pandemic has introduced new challenges to this critical work. This week, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Holly Mitchell to address these issues.
In addition to asking for an assessment of safety issues, the motion directs the Public Defender to report back on the expected impact that COVID, budget curtailments, and justice reform initiatives will have on attorney caseloads. The motion also directs CEO to report back on ways to streamline the Public Defenders’ ability to fill attorney vacancies and hire other needed staff.
Preserving Property Ownership Diversity and Equity
In LA County, the COVID-19 pandemic and the homelessness crisis have disproportionately affected communities of color and low-income households, which makes it crucial for the County to view any relief programs we implement through that lens.
The Board passed a motion authored by Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Hilda Solis that requests a report back on a data collection plan for current and future homeownership retention and relief plans. This data will help ensure that historically disadvantaged communities are not left behind and receive a fair share of relief from programs like the County’s Mortgage Financial Relief Program.
Supporting and Building a System of Alternatives to Incarceration
This week, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis enabling the ATI Initiative to move forward with three programs that will support our foundational shift to a “Care First, Jails Last” system. These programs include a Rapid Diversion Program, Pre-Booking/Pre-Filing Diversion Program, and the ATI Incubation Academy.
Trusted, grassroots, community-based organizations will be key in supporting individuals in staying out of jail and thriving in their own communities. The ATI Incubation Academy will identify and support these organizations, especially those providing services in the Rapid and Pre-Booking/Pre-Filing Diversion Programs, and assist with training and capacity-building. The Incubation Academy will also help these nonprofits to compete for public funding to support the vital resources they provide.