By John W. Davis
INGLEWOOD — The city of Inglewood is creating a $2 million COVID-19 Relief Fund to help residents impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The program will give residents $500 dollars to help them catch up on past due rent.
According to Mayor James T. Butts, the two COVID-19 relief programs will assist low-income and unemployed or underemployed residents with past due rent or pay for other basic needs. The Inglewood City Council gave Butts’ initiative their support Aug. 11.
However, several residents, who are now watching council meetings online due to COVID-19, want the city to go further and cancel rent in Inglewood.
“The reality is that cities are hurting as well,” Butts said. “Their general funds have been impacted by the drop in sales tax revenues and other revenues that have occurred because people and businesses are not producing these days.”
Butts said the CARES Act money was intended to be used for public safety and could have been used to pay for police overtime.
“This council has chosen to use this money to help people that are hurting,” he said.
Meanwhile, a few others who wished to remain anonymous thought some of the COVID relief funds should have gone to homeowners in Inglewood.
“I feel and I hope the council agrees that the critical need right now is for our renters,” Butts said because even though Inglewood renters have eviction protection, their costs continue to stack up.
“No program is perfect but this is a huge step in helping the renters,” said Councilman Eloy Morales Jr, who represents District 3.
Morales said the COVID relief programs will be impactful because the city is trying to help as many people as possible with limited relief funding.
Through federal funding, Inglewood will use $1 million to provide rental assistance to low-income Inglewood residents. If used for Section-8 housing, that money will go directly to landlords, Butts said.
Meanwhile, through the federal CARES Act Program, Inglewood will use another $1 million to provide residents who are unemployed or underemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a debit card of up to $500 to help make ends meet. That program is more flexible and will not be income restricted.
About half of the money was provided to Inglewood by the Federal CARES Act. The rest of the money will come from funding from the federal Housing and urban Development Department. Until that funding arrives, the program will be paid for through Inglewood’s general fund reserves.
“This was a clear example of how we are doing our best to do the best we can for those that are in need,” said Councilman Ralph Franklin, who represents District 4. “Not greedy but needy.”
City staff is expected to submit a report for City Council’s consideration and action Aug. 18. Soon after, city leaders hope to be able to announce how residents can apply and receive relief funding.
“People need money now,” Butts said. “The urgency is getting this in people’s hands now.”