See how COVID-19 is also affecting housing in neighboring Central Valley counties
By ONME Newswire
Producer host Julia Dudley Najieb reviews the state of California COVID-19 crisis in Los Angeles County and neighboring southern San Joaquin Valley counties; over 95 percent of California is in the top purple tier, which means the virus is currently wide-spread or ICU beds are limited.
Next, Dudley Najieb gave a brief introduction to the Central Valley Eviction crisis, surpassing northern and southern California areas; ONME News will give a full-reporting of the investigation in the upcoming weeks.
Meanwhile, Dudley Najieb featured Ethnic Media Services December briefing Los Angeles County housing experts:
Dana Pratt, Chief, is chief of tenant protections at the LA County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA). She is also the consumer counseling supervisor for the DCBA, and has previously served as the consumer affairs supervisor and acting consumer affairs supervisor for the Foreclosure Prevention Program.
Pratt reviewed the recently expanded division of housing which implemented extended housing protection services available for tenants suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic and are facing evictions.
"It's no secret that we live in one of the most unaffordable housing markets in the nation with more than half the County's residents are being referred to as what is called, 'rent burdened' and that means that they are just paying a significantly high percentage of their income toward their housing expenses," said Pratt.
Pratt continued that because of the significant rise in housing prices and wages unable to meet the same demands in raises in one's earnings, the LA County supervisors had to draft a rent and housing stability program to restrict random rent increases-- COVID-19 has only compounded the pre-pandemic problem.
She discussed the temporary Los Angeles County eviction moratorium which went into affect March 4, 2020 until January 31, 2021--unless extended by the supervisors. It prevents mobile home renters, commercial and residential tenants from being evicted during the COVID-19 pandemic; the rent deferment gives a tenant 6-12 months to pay the past due rent once the moratorium is lifted.
New program, Stay Housed LA County is a legal defense program for low-income renters facing evictions and for renters living in vulnerable communities throughout the county. It provides: legal representation, "Know Your Rights" workshops, short-term rental assistance, and other wrap-around services in the county. (See full video excerpt above.)
Azusena Favela, is the deputy director of the LA County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. She is also an independent consultant with a client list including MLK Health & Wellness CDC, City of Los Angeles Innovation Team, Everytable, Weingart Foundation, Emerging Markets Inc., Northgate Gonzalez Market, and Wells Fargo - Community Development.
She discussed why this housing crisis is very different from the great recession housing crisis in 2008.
"This pandemic is impacting renters and property owners alike."
Favela reviewed options for homeowners and landlords facing foreclosure; there is a moratorium on foreclosures through January 2021. Her office can assist with a forbearance plan to temporarily reduce the mortgage for up to six months, for those who qualify. (See full video excerpt above.)
Maritza Gutierrez, is chief of the Mediation & Counseling Division at the LA County Department of Consumer & Business Affairs. She also served as the Consumer Affairs supervisor and has managed several programs at DCBA including consumer counseling, education, and complaint investigation.
Gutierrez reiterated that the mediation services provided are not to take one side or the other; instead, they specialize in handling disputes between landlords and renters, neighbors and even creditors, which are just a few examples of how they can assist individuals. There services are free to Los Angeles County residents who are needing assistance in communicating their housing concerns or issues to their landlords.
For example, she told the story of a Los Angeles County resident who became homeless, addicted to drugs and was waiting in line at homeless shelter while being harrassed by drug dealers offering free product. Gutierrez was able to communicate such (See full video excerpt above.)
Emilio Salas, is the acting executive director of the LA County Development Authority (LACDA). Previously, he had served as the LACDA’s deputy executive director, director of administrative services, public housing area manager, and operations and programs administrator.
Salas said his division has been overwhelmed with the recent COVID-19 shut-down affecting restaurant businesses; they had to find immediate relief grants for owners.
They have also launched four different emergency programs in Los Angeles County to speficially help renters, starting with the largest one launched with $100 million budget in September to help renters. It has now expanded to $110 million.
Salas said his division had to take a different approach to who would be qualified for the program since many residents were already been in arrears for months--they decided to focus on the economically disadvantaged within communities hardest hit by COVID-19 for fifty percent of the budget. The other 50 percent went to service all residents throughout Los Angeles County. He noted that people are doing whatever they can to stay current on their rent.
"More than 70 percent of the people who we are providing grants to aren't getting the full amount of the benefit that they are eligible for," explained Salas. "The reason being is, many of them did everything that they could to stay caught up on their rent; including, gettting payday loans, putting it on their credit card, borrowing money from friends and family."
(See full video excerpts above.)
Dedicated listeners, viewers and followers can find past ONR news producer, Dudley Najieb's weekly podcasts, The ONME News Review - News Too Real here.
Each week host Dudley Najieb broadcasts show News Too Real live under the ONME News Review, which distributes its original podcasts through The ONME Network and various third-party locations: watch her on the ONME Podcast Network at ONME TV Channel; listen via several external audio podcast outlets including: Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Castbox, Deezer, Podcast Addict, JioSaavn, Podchaser, iHeartRadio, Listennotes.com, and Spreaker; OTT apps Roku and Amazon Fire, and offline via cable TV. Audio podcasts are also available on the ONME News website.
In the Central Valley, from Stanislaus County to Tulare County, viewers can watch ONME original podcast programming during the ONME Network's time slot on TV (CMAC) Comcast Channel 93 and AT&T Channel 99. Watch The ONME News Review - News too Real on CMAC TV channels at 9:00 AM on Wednesdays and Thursdays, with encore broadcasts on Fridays at 6:00 PM.
The ONME News Review -"News Too Real" broadcasts daily @ 6:00 PM, 6:00 AM and 9:00 AM through The ONME Network.