City Council President Nury Martinez Wednesday introduced a motion to use $50 million of the Los Angeles COVID-19 federal relief fund to assist low-income people who have tested positive for the coronavirus and cannot work.
Martinez said she wants to focus particularly on getting assistance to low-income people infected by the virus who were left out of the first round of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security Act.
“Los Angeles is home to a large number of low-wage and undocumented workers who were denied access to CARES Act benefits and unemployment insurance assistance,” Martinez states in her motion. “Low-wage workers, such as housekeepers, gardeners, laborers, bus drivers and gig workers, worked long hours to make ends meet prior to the pandemic and continue to do so as the number of positive cases increase every day.”
According to Martinez, San Francisco created its own “right-to-recover” program to replace wages for people who test positive for COVID-19 and need financial assistance, and Los Angeles would look to create a similar program.
The council president said people in poorer areas of Los Angeles are infected and dying at twice the rate of wealthier neighborhoods.
Martinez said high-paying job sectors provide telecommuting, paid sick leave and health insurance, but low-wage workers have limited or no access to those benefits.
In April, the City Council enacted a paid leave policy that provided additional paid time during the pandemic for recovery, childcare and other needs. However, even with that expansion, some low-wage workers still do not have the access to paid time off, Martinez said.
“When a low-wage worker tests positive for COVID-19, they are faced with the possibility of losing their job, housing and ability to provide for their family,” the motion states.
The motion will first be heard in the City Council’s Ad Hoc on COVID-19 and Neighborhood Investment Committee.
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