By John W. Davis
INGLEWOOD — A small group of concerned citizens are holding weekly rallies outside Inglewood City Hall, asking city leaders to provide more financial assistance to residents during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, the city has set aside $2 million for two COVID-19 relief programs. One program will provide rental assistance, by directly paying a landlord if a tenant lives in Section-8 Housing. A separate program, which will be lottery based, will provide a one-time $500 payment directly to landlords or a stipend via a debit card.
“I would like for them to cancel rent and for them to give more money to Inglewood residents,” said Eddie Cruz, a 24-year-old Inglewood resident. “Five hundred dollars is nothing. That’s half a month’s rent or less. If we were allowed to give our residents more money to flourish and thrive in this economic downfall that our nation is in right now, I think it would be a great help.”
“Getting as much assistance as necessary to the people who need it right now. That includes people who are homeless, renters, people who are home and property owners and business owners,” said William Campbell a member of Fight 2 Save Black LA.
The rallies center around asking council members to cancel rent, making it easier to give public comments during council meetings and moving weekly City Council meetings from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays.
“I think it’s important for us to change this time to at least six or seven in the evening, so more people in the city of Inglewood can tune into to these city council meetings … for them to have a voice, for them to have an opinion on what occurs in their city,” Cruz said.
Cruz is also advocating for canceling rent in Inglewood. He believes city leaders like Mayor James T. Butts Jr. can negotiate with billionaires and financial institutions backing new sports and entertainment venues, to help keep residents in Inglewood.
“The reality is, we don’t have one dime coming in from the (SoFi) stadium,” Butts said. “We will receive ticket tax. When the property taxes are collected, we will receive some property tax revenue but there will be no parking taxes, there will be no concession taxes.”
Although no one can be evicted right now in Inglewood due to a moratorium, Cruz fears what will happen to residents when months of back rent suddenly becomes due.
“Eventually, some people will get evicted because they can’t pay,” Cruz said.
“We’re looking at a mass displacement happening in this city once this whole COVID situation calms down, if that assistance does not come,” Campbell said.
Meanwhile, residents said public participation is being made more complicated than it should be during the COVID-19 pandemic. The council chambers have been closed to the public for several months. Only city staff are allowed to attend meetings in person.
“It’s been very complicated,” Campbell said. “Now Community Room A is closed due to some emergency but we see everything else around the city happening during the same emergency.”
Community members want council members to reopen Community Room A to the public, as a place for residents to watch and make public comments during council meetings.
Meanwhile, city leaders said Community Room A is currently being used to help residents who don’t have internet access complete COVID-19 relief fund applications in person.
Right now, residents can watch meetings virtually on Spectrum or on the city’s Facebook page.
Oral public comments can only be submitted on the telephone via conference call. Written public comments can be submitted prior to 8 a.m. the day of the meeting.
However, community activists still believe people still have power.
“Ultimately, we as the people will decide what happens,” Campbell said.
The weekly community rally will take place outside Inglewood City Hall at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.
“City Hall needs to feel our presence so I urge young people to come out,” Cruz said. “Let’s rally, let’s protest. Let’s stop gentrification from coming into our city and let’s keep Inglewood residents in their homes.”
John W. Davis is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Inglewood area. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.