In a series of interviews this weekend, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti admitted that Los Angeles reopened too early, as well as commenting on an “overwhelming” need for rental assistance in the city due to a high number of rent relief applicants.
Reopening too early
During a CNN interview on Sunday, Mayor Garcetti said he had opened up LA too early in late May and early June, noting that the early reopening had caused the ongoing massive spike in COVID-19 cases in the city during the past month.
“I do agree those things happened too quickly,” noted Garcetti during the interview, adding that city and local officials “often have no control in reopening decisions” and that final ruling comes from county and state officials.
With a record number of 2,232 new cases being recorded on Monday in LA County and only a slightly smaller figure being cited by Garcetti on Sunday, the Mayor also reiterated that Los Angeles is ‘on the brink’ of being shut down for a second time.
“It’s not just what’s opened and closed,” added Garcetti. “It’s also about what we do individually. It’s about the people who are getting together outside of their households with people they might know. It might be their extended family, it might be friends. They might think because they got a test two weeks ago that it’s OK, but it’s not. We have to be as vigilant right now as we were the first day and bring 100 percent of our strength the way we did the first or second month.”
With new cases county-wise also still on the rise, the Mayor also called for more residents to adhere to wearing masks and follow social distancing rules.
Renters, Landlords continue to face hardships despite some assistance
During a speech earlier on Sunday, Garcetti also noted the high number of applicants for LA’s $103 million Rent Relief Program. Over 200,000 applications were sent in during the week for only about 50,000 open household slots. Applications closed on Friday, with distribution of the $1,000 to $2,000 direct-to-landlord payments expected soon.
“We had about 140,000 applications the first day and about 200,000 by the end of the week,” explained Garcetti early Sunday. “This will help about 50,000 households; over 150,000 Angelenos on top of the hundred thousand that we gave Angeleno cards to the people who were affected by that. So we are very optimistic this will do a lot of good work and it’s the biggest in the country.”
Mayor Garcetti also explained that, besides the direct payments on behalf of renters under assistance, landlords would not be given any assistance, with no eviction dates being set into place.
“Evictions are not allowed. So the short answer is no time soon,” added Garcetti. “That said, we are not heartless about the condition of so many mom-and-pop landlords. It is why we designed this to go straight to landlords and we’re looking at everything from DWP and other places we can help landlords after this is done.”
Experts have said that the coming weeks will decide LA’s future for some time to come.
“Los Angeles may not be able to survive another lockdown,” said regional economist Seth Yuen. “Small businesses that barely survived the first lockdown wouldn’t survive a second. This means a lot more unemployed people, and that means more people defaulting on paying rents and mortgages. And that means landlords would be hit hard, the biggest chunk of whom are independent and depend on that money to live.”
“This is a viscous and scary possible outcome. If they have another lockdown I don’t know how a lot of LA could continue.”
The decision by state and local officials to have a second lockdown in LA may happen as soon as this week.