Featured items on homepage for top stories…

$3 Million in Small Business and Non-Profit Grant Assistance to be Deployed Through New Los Angeles-Area COVID Recovery Fund

As businesses and non-profits across the Los Angeles region continue to face challenges in response to the public health and economic crisis of COVID-19, the County of Los Angeles, the City of Los Angeles, and philanthropy have partnered to deploy $3 million dollars in grants for small businesses, non-profits and microentrepreneurs in a newly launched LA Regional COVID-19 Recovery Fund.

The $3 million dollar Recovery Fund, established as a joint effort by the County of Los Angeles, who have contributed $2 million dollars, and the City of Los Angeles, who have contributed $1 million dollars, as well as additional support from philanthropic partners, aims to assist small businesses, nonprofits, and microentrepreneurs that have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, providing $5,000 grants to microentrepreneurs, and $15,000 grants to non-profits and small businesses. To ensure equitable access to capital across various demographics throughout the region, grants will be distributed through an equitable lottery system.

“Our small businesses and social enterprises are not only the economic engine of our region but its heart and soul,” said LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “We know that once COVID-19 is gone, the economic damage will remain. We must do all that we can to make sure we’re supporting them through this difficult and unprecedented moment.”

“Small businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we need to deliver every possible ounce of support, resources, and investment to help get them—and our region’s economy—back on track,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “From day one of this crisis, our City has acted to keep businesses open and workers on the job, and the LA Regional COVID-19 Recovery Fund is another vital source of financial assistance for the very backbone of our communities.”

Given the urgency for assistance, the Recovery Fund will be deployed in two phases and make technical support immediately available throughout the application process. The first phase will consist of a grant program, and a second phase will consist of a loan program that will launch at a later date. Starting on July 6, 2020, the first phase will deploy $3 million in grants available at $5,000 for micro-entrepreneurs and $15,000 for small businesses and non-profits. Both phases of the Recovery Fund will be accompanied by support from diverse technical assistance partners, funded by philanthropic and private sector partners. Support for these efforts include $1.1 million from the Wells Fargo Foundation, $100,000 from Citi, and funding from MUFG Union Bank Foundation.

The public-private partnership will be administered by national community development financial institution partner, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). LISC will administer the grant process and work through local partners to reach businesses and nonprofits who may not have received Federal relief funds.

“LISC LA is thrilled to be leading this crucial effort in partnership with the LA County working group,” said Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, Executive Director of LISC LA. “With over 40 years of experience connecting diverse communities to resources and opportunities, LISC has the knowledge of seasoned community partners along with the aptitude for expediency to lead the deployment of the Los Angeles-Area COVID Recovery Fund. Since day one of the pandemic we’ve been working to provide relief and recovery in low-income and underserved communities – as our organization focuses on garnering and deploying capital to small businesses and organizations that need it most. We are excited to get started on what we do best.”

Local partners providing technical assistance with proven experience in serving the County’s most vulnerable communities include the API Small Business Program, Inclusive Action for the City, LA Area Chamber of Commerce, New Economics for Women, Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE), Pacific Coast Regional (PCR), The Center by Lendistry, and Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation. The full list of technical assistance providers can be found on the LA Regional COVID Recovery Fund website.

Those who need assistance are encouraged to call (833) 238-4450, LA County’s Disaster Help Center and one-stop for local emergency resources. The Disaster Help Center will connect callers to LA Regional COVID Fund partners and provide the most updated Fund information.

Visit LACOVIDFund.org to access the Fund’s resources online or get connected to a technical assistance partner.

Statement on Los Angeles County FY 2020-2021 Budget

Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on Los Angeles County’s Budget for FY 2020-2021

“The global pandemic that has sickened almost 100,000 people in Los Angeles County – taking 3,300 lives – has also wreaked havoc on our economy. Today’s budget demonstrates our determination to continue serving as a critically needed safety net even with diminished resources.

“We have made painful but necessary cuts across the board to close an unprecedented $935.3 million gap. But by making strategic investments as well as seeking out and leveraging additional state and federal funding, we intend to continue making gains in addressing homelessness, improving public safety, and helping communities thrive.

“Though Measure H revenue is expected to decline, we are developing a spending plan that would sustain our expanding network of community-based homeless services providers and also build on the success of Project Roomkey, which has already brought more than 4,000 of our homeless neighbors indoors in just three months.

“Amid massive protests nationwide following the death of George Floyd, we are responding by reimagining how we ensure public safety and by helping communities most in need of investment. With today’s budget, we are doubling down on approaches that prioritize people’s health and community well-being and safety – over surveillance, over excessive enforcement and use of force, over criminalization and incarceration.

“The pandemic has already forced us to rapidly but safely reduce our jail population, a key component of criminal justice reform. With this budget, I am also pushing to expand the Office of Diversion and Reentry so more people with serious clinical needs can be moved out of jails and into treatment. It is also important to invest in the Alternatives to Incarceration initiative, including scaling up psychiatric urgent care centers and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Behavioral Health Center. This is the compassionate, humane and cost-effective thing to do.

“We also cannot afford to delay creating the Probation Oversight Commission and to expand the powers of the Inspector General, both of which strengthen accountability. This is the time to further invest in community-centered solutions that give us the best and highest return for our communities.

“I want to be clear that our work does not end here today. We will continue through the summer to produce a spending plan that prioritizes the health and well-being of everyone who calls Los Angeles County home.”

Recognizing Essential Workers in the Second District

Sylvia Lachapelle: Vermont Corridor

Last week’s installment of the Second District essential workers series recognized Refugio Rivas who works on the Park to Playa Project This one is dedicated to Sylvia Lachapalle who is working on the Vermont Corridor Project.

Spotlight on the Vermont Corridor: This project is a multi-phased mixed-use Koreatown development that includes a 21-story tower. The project will eliminate the existing blight along this stretch of Vermont Avenue and is a short walk from the Metro Vermont/Wilshire Red Line Station.

The new tower located at 510 South Vermont Avenue will be the headquarters for the Los Angeles County Departments of Mental Health (DMH) and Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS), and will have mental health services available to the community on the ground level of the building.

The other phases of this project include a 72-unit affordable senior housing project located at 433 South Vermont and currently under construction. The senior housing project includes a 12,500 SF community center that will be operated by the YMCA.  Both projects are on schedule to open in 2021.

Vermont Corridor Project

The final phase of the project involves the adaptive reuse of the County-owned building located adjacent to the new tower into 172 units of market-rate housing. Construction of this final phase will commence once the new tower is completed and DMH has moved into their new headquarters.

Meet Sylvia Lachapelle. Sylvia is from the Hyde Park neighborhood of South Los Angeles. She attended Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATCC) where she studied Electronics Communications — she is a sound and communications apprentice for Morrow-Meadows Corporation which is a full-service electrical contracting company based in Los Angeles.

Sylvia has been working on this project since February of this year, and her responsibility is to tests CCTV, cameras, and telecom cable connections.  She has also worked on other local projects, one at LAX and another one at Metro.

Sylvia’s Perspective: “The Vermont Corridor Project will give the community a positive outlet to support the restless and the homeless and get them the help they need,” she said.

A typical day for Sylvia: Most of Sylvia’s time is spent learning to read blueprints, determining pathway, pulling cable, connecting cable with connector or jacks, testing, and troubleshooting.

Sylvia takes pride in being an essential worker because she is building a safer community. “Do the job right the first time and it won’t be repeated!” she said.

Continued County Support Allays Fears for Local Restaurants

Local favorites and minority-owned restaurants, Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen, Harold & Belle’s and Alta all have one thing in common – flavorful food. Recently Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas visited these three restaurants, and many others, to show his continued support for small businesses in need during this crisis.

“Local mom and pop restaurants have been some of the most recognizable small businesses that have been hit the hardest financially by covid-19. With a long road back to normalcy, I urge all patrons to do their part to safely support these restaurants,” commented the Supervisor while picking up food to go. “They represent the best of what we enjoy and love about Los Angeles County and our local communities.”

As we enter into stage 2 of the reopening, now more than ever, it is crucial to continue to support your favorite restaurants but also practice safe distancing. When local businesses thrive, the community thrives.

Founder and former owner of Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen, Adolf Dulan dubbed The King of Soul Food has reigned over the Los Angeles food scene for nearly 40 years. His son and head chef, Gregory Dulan had this to say about staying open during this crisis. “Unfortunately, a lot of employees live paycheck to paycheck and we wanted to do everything we could to stay open to keep our employees working. We also wanted to stay open so that we could serve the community and do our best to be good community citizens.”

“Harold & Belles is family, it’s home, it’s authentic home cooking. We have a very loyal following that has stuck with us throughout this entire COVID crisis and it’s been pretty amazing to see,” explained Director of Operations for Harold & Belles, Andrew Alvarado. Established in 1986, Harold & Belles have always prided themselves on their creole/Cajun style cuisine. Alvarado whose favorite dish is the file-gumbo, has a unique menu consisting of Po-Boy Sandwiches, Red Beans & Rice and Louisiana styled catfish.

“Alta was created to elevate soul food, so, it’s soul food done with traditional flavors just elevated with raw products.” Known for their oxtails and collard greens, this restaurant in the West Adams community is Los Angeles’ newest hot spot.

Although these restaurants may have been briefly impacted by the devastating economic toll of the novel coronavirus, it certainly hasn’t stopped  them. Though the power of food may have strengthened and united their community. Because of their loyal customers who have been a much-needed support during these desperate times, these restaurants have not only been able to survive they have been able to thrive.

A HOME Team Helping the Homeless who Struggle with Mental Illness

A Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (DMH) Outreach Team member walks the streets with colleagues from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), seeking to help people experiencing homelessness while struggling with mental illness.

Determined to help those with severe mental illness break the cycle of homelessness, incarceration and hospitalization, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion by Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Mark Ridley-Thomas to launch a pilot program that would enhance the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (DMH)’s ability to care for and treat people living on the streets.

“Even before the pandemic, three of our homeless neighbors have been dying every day. It is all the more urgent that we intervene humanely to prevent people from passively decaying on the streets as a result of severe and untreated mental illness,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “This motion will allow LA County’s Department of Mental Health to immediately deploy their Homeless Outreach Mobile Engagement (HOME) teams to pilot street-based treatment and clinical oversight to help our most vulnerable residents get on the path to recovery.”

“This is another important tool in our ongoing effort to serve those suffering with mental health issues who fall into chronic homelessness,” Supervisor Barger said. “We remain dedicated to address the needs of these vulnerable individuals and must work together to find new solutions that improve and enhance the treatment options we provide for people experiencing homelessness.”

HOME teams include mental health psychiatrists and counselors, psychiatric nurses and social workers, substance abuse counselors, medical caseworkers, and people who have experienced homelessness. These teams go out into the streets to provide intensive outreach and engagement as well as access to essential resources including mental health treatment and service-enriched housing.

Currently, the HOME teams engage and  assess  homeless individuals who have such severe mental health issues that they are gravely disabled and cannot care for themselves. They conduct voluntary evaluations, provide voluntary crisis intervention services and, when necessary, place individuals on a 72-hour hold for involuntary evaluation and treatment if they are in imminent danger.

LA County Department of Mental Health Director Dr. Jonathan Sherin (in a blue “We Rise” shirt) out in the field with DMH Outreach Teams.

In the proposed pilot, HOME teams have the ability to apply for an outpatient conservatorship for homeless individuals who are not in imminent danger but are gravely disabled and refusing voluntary mental health services. If an individual is awaiting a conservatorship hearing while in the hospital, the HOME team will work, as needed, with the hospital treatment team to determine if on-going hospitalization is necessary.

Concurrent with any conservatorship recommendation, DMH will identify appropriate housing or a mental health treatment bed as well as a dedicated treatment team for the prospective conservatee.

“Our department’s countywide, multidisciplinary HOME teams interact on a daily basis with individuals whose lives have been shattered by serious mental illness,” said Dr. Jonathan Sherin, Director of the Department of Mental Health, who has laid out a series of proposals for disrupting the cycle of chronic homeless in the County. “These clients are unable to make good decisions about their care. It is unjust and inhumane to allow our clients to be exposed to the streets or jails when help is available. This pilot program would provide our HOME teams additional engagement tools, including ‘outpatient conservatorship’ to ensure a client receives treatment, without having to rely on hospitalization.”