Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis and county Department of Public Health officials called for street food vendors to stop operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, and offered resources to those who have been financially affected.
Solis said many street vendors may be continuing to operate because they don’t think they’re eligible for COVID-19 assistance from the county, such as health services, rent assistance and business assistance, and they may be afraid to access the services due to their immigration status.
“I know that the Safer at Home order is challenging for many people, especially those who are unable to work from home or who are having a hard time making ends meet,” Solis said. “We know that many of our families are struggling to even put food on the table.”
Regardless of their citizenship status, Solis said the county will offer help to people who call 211 or visit covid19.lacounty.gov for more information, such as locations of food distribution centers and ways to access them.
Officials said people can still apply for the county’s CalFresh food assistance program by calling 866-613-3777 or going to dpss.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/dpss/main/programs-and-services/calfresh/.
“In the month of March, we saw a 71% increase in CalFresh applications when compared to the same period last year,” Solis said.
Food vendors and trucks already fall into a gray area under the local pandemic orders. Grocery stores and restructured versions of farmers markets are allowed to operate, but Solis said food vendors and trucks continue to put themselves and others at risk.
Many of the unlicensed food trucks that continue to operate throughout the county have not been requiring patrons to observe social distancing, she said. Social distancing is defined by the county as maintaining six feet between people, and patrons of licensed food trucks are also not allowed to hang out at the truck or gather in large groups.
“During this pandemic, Public Health is asking, pleading with the unpermitted food vendors to do their part as members of the community and to stop operating until they secure a Public Health permit,” said Liza Frias, DPH director of environmental health. “This permit ensures that the vendors comply with all the food safety requirements to ensure the health and safety of not only themselves but also the community they’re serving.”
Food vendors who don’t comply with the orders could face a $1,000 fine or misdemeanor charge.
People can also get health services from the county’s Department of Public Health. Applicants must be 26 years and older, have a low income and be unable to qualify for public insurance. People can go to dhs.lacounty.gov/mhla for more information on health services.
Eviction moratoriums are in place for renters throughout unincorporated areas of the county and participating cities, and renters will have a year to pay back the rent they’ve owed per their rate as of March 4. People can go to lacountyhelpcenter.gov for more information.
Solis said the county is working on local business loan and grant programs to be finalized in the coming weeks.
Through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, residents have received or will receive a stimulus check, but thousands of county residents do not have a bank account to receive the electronic payments.
County residents who do not have an account can go to the BankOn website to open a bank or credit union account at dcba.lacounty.gov/bankon.
The Women, Infants and Children program, or WIC, also does not fall under the federal public charge rules, and immigrants can apply for resources from it, Solis said.
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