City to get $60 million for COVID expenses

Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles region will receive $300 million in emergency reimbursements, with $60 million directly benefiting the city of Los Angeles for COVID-19 expenses, and Mayor Karen Bass and other city officials are celebrating a productive trip to Sacramento to meet with state leaders.
Bass and a delegation that included five City Council members concluded two days of meetings at the statehouse in Sacramento Feb. 27 and returned to Los Angeles later in the afternoon.
According to Bass’ office, during a meeting Feb. 26 with the state’s Office of Emergency Services, city officials were informed that Los Angeles would receive reimbursements for COVID-19 expenses from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Other funding will be applied toward homelessness and storm relief.
“We must continue to do all we can to join forces at every level of government to save lives and bring Angelenos inside,” Bass said in a statement. “I want to thank the governor for continuing his work to lock arms with us to deliver for the people of Los Angeles.”
The city’s delegation — which included Bass, City Council President Paul Krekorian and council members Bob Blumenfield, Hugo Soto-Martinez, Monica Rodriguez and Eunisses Hernandez — met with Gov. Gavin Newsom Feb. 27.
“When emergencies strike, the city of Los Angeles doesn’t wait for outside help; we act immediately,” Krekorian said. “The measures we took during COVID and our recent storms saved lives and bolstered the economy of the entire region, far beyond our city’s borders. I want to thank Governor Newsom for ensuring that the city of Los Angeles is receiving its share of federal funds to reimburse us for the outsize share of the burden we assumed.”
Newsom said that “state, local, and federal partners are united in helping our communities recover from disasters and emergencies. California is proud to support Mayor Bass and the city’s efforts to help Angelenos rebuild from damaging storms, access housing and recover from the pandemic.”
City representatives have met regularly with federal officials to raise the issue of outstanding FEMA payments, Bass’ office said. In recent months, Bass met with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Acting Deputy Secretary Kristie Canegallo and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell.
The other entities in the Los Angeles region receiving reimbursements include the Los Angeles Unified School District, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and the Loma Linda University Medical Center.
In addition to meeting with Newsom, the delegation met several of his cabinet secretaries and other officials including Treasurer Fiona Ma, Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, Senate President Pro Tem Mike McGuire, Assembly Budget Committee Chair Jesse Gabriel, Senate Budget Committee Chair Scott Wiener and Nancy Ward, director of the Office of Emergency Services.
On Feb. 26, Bass’ office used the visit to highlight the fact that 3,365 housing vouchers the city had already received have now been fully used, bringing homeless Angelenos inside.
Additionally, Bass noted that the city secured a $7.2 million Homekey Round 3 grant last week — the seventh such award the city has secured from the state.
Krekorian, a former Assembly member, told City News Service that it’s been years since his last meetings at the capital.
“I don’t remember a time when we’ve had a city delegation come up here with a mayor and members of the City Council,” he said.
He said it’s important — and impactful — for city leaders to visit with state leaders.
“When we’re not here, if we’re not being heard then we will be overlooked when it comes to budget decisions and policies,” he said.
Rodriguez said the trip is an opportunity to connect with many legislators and elevate issues that are “most pressing to the people of Los Angeles, particularly post-COVID.”
She agreed with Krekorian that it’s important for city leaders to engage with state leaders and remind them that “we don’t always have one-size-fits-all solutions for challenges that face Californians.”
City officials lamented that the state is looking at a budget deficit in the upcoming fiscal year. Los Angeles is also looking at a possible $150 million deficit that could balloon to $400 million as a result of spending and new labor contracts with several unions representing city employees.
In regard to the funding for interim housing, Bass emphasized that “our priority always has to be to save lives, and when we work together, across all levels of government, we can make real progress.”
“With more than 40,000 unhoused Angelenos on our streets, it was unacceptable that we had voucher holders unable to come inside,” she said.
In January 2023, Bass said the city worked with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles to increase its capacity, and now the city is at “full voucher utilization.”
“We cannot stand by and allow business as usual to kill unhoused Angelenos,” Bass said in a statement.
Blumenfield noted that the city must take advantage of “every state and federal resource on the table, and leave no rock unturned.”