Focused effort underway to rehouse all the people living under 101 freeway
LOS ANGELES, CA- Bringing new resources to the effort to shelter people living in the Winnetka underpass beneath the 101 freeway, Councilmember Bob Blumenfeld today announced a new pilot project to house unsheltered residents at that encampment, in partnership with. the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). During the pilot, LAHSA will identify service needs and housing/shelter resources for each of the estimated 24 people currently living at this location. This new infusion of outreach and services stems from the ongoing litigation and conversations with federal Judge David O. Carter. Finding it unsafe and unhealthy to live near freeways, Judge Carter has been facilitating an agreement between the City and County of Los Angeles to create new shelter beds for people living within 500 feet of freeways throughout the region.
“I’m encouraged to see LAHSA focus attention on what it will take to house the people living in the Winnetka underpass both to give them somewhere better to be and to clear the underpass for pedestrians,” said Blumenfield. “After many visits and conversations with homeless folks living in these areas, I know that some need substance abuse treatment and others just need a helping hand to get back to a safe home, so this pilot should help get each person the right mix of assistance to move on with their lives quickly.”
The Winnetka underpass is one of several freeway locations that LAHSA has prioritized for rapid rehousing efforts.
A partnership between the City and County of Los Angeles, this will be the first permanent site west of the 405 and will serve local homeless Angelenos
CANOGA PARK,CA- Today construction and renovations began for the new permanent Bridge Housing site in the West Valley. In partnership with County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, this property in Canoga Park will be the City’s first permanent Bridge Housing site west of the 405.
“The COVID-19 emergency has amplified our homelessness crisis in ways we will only fully grasp in the years to come but we know our Bridge Housing site will serve as a critical tool in getting people the help they need,” said Councilmember Blumenfield. “Thanks to Supervisor Sheila Kuehl for partnering in this effort to get more permanent services in the West Valley because as we continue to face an unprecedented humanitarian and quality-of-life crisis, we need all the resources we can get.”
LOS ANGELES, CA- Today the Los Angeles City Council unanimously supported Councilmember Bob Blumenfield’s measure to extend expiring conditional use permits (CUP) and cut other bureaucratic hurdles to help local businesses survive. The City of LA does not have unlimited resources to assist small businesses. However, following Councilmember Blumenfield’s lead, the City has now taken steps to eliminate some financial and regulatory burdens on local businesses affected by the Coronavirus COVID-19 Emergency Declaration.
“As the COVID-19 crisis continues to leave many of our small businesses vulnerable to closure, now is the time to cut the red tape and do everything we can to help empower our local restaurants so they can thrive” said Blumenfield. “Local businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and during this emergency, I don't want to see Planning permits get in the way of these stores that are providing essential services.”
Blumenfield’s motion specifically calls to:
- Extend all expiring conditional use permits for a period of 12 months after expiration of the Coronavirus COVID-19 Emergency Declaration
- Suspend any requirement that a property owner or business provide additional parking in connection with a change of use in an existing structure
- Suspend any condition requiring a property owner or business to provide off-site or valet parking
All of these actions have sunset clauses between 6 months and one year after the end of the Emergency Declaration.
LA City Council calls on Congress to boost SNAP, crucial Federal food program previously known as food stamps
WEST SAN FERNANDO VALLEY, CA – On May 13, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution authored by Councilmember Bob Blumenfield and seconded by Councilmember Monica Rodriguez to call upon Congress to make critical improvements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as food stamps, for struggling families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the several Federal aid programs rolled out to provide aid to businesses and families, Congress has taken no action to expand SNAP for those who are food insecure.
“In LA and across the Country, food insecurity is one of the largest issues impacting families during the pandemic,” Blumenfield said. “Given rising unemployment rates and food bank data, there could be as many as 60 million people who don’t know when or where their next meal is coming from. It’s time for Congress to boost SNAP benefits, to call on the USDA to expand SNAP-eligible delivery options, and to urge the Federal government to increase access to SNAP for particularly vulnerable groups.”
SNAP has proven to be one of the most effective Federal programs to mitigate hardships for low-income families. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), SNAP expenditures not only benefit food insecure families—these expenditures are also one of the most efficient methods to support an economy during a recession. With the passage of Blumenfield’s resolution, the City of Los Angeles specifically calls for Congress to boost the maximum benefit by 15%, double the minimum benefit to $30 a month, and allow EBT use on grocery delivery platforms benefitting local businesses. Every SNAP dollar spent in the local economy contributes to the wages grocery workers and food producers depend upon to maintain operations.
"Councilmember Blumenfield and the Los Angeles City Council continue to show strong leadership in the face of the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the heartbreaking increases in food insecurity,” said Abby J. Leibman, President and CEO of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. “With the passage of Councilmember Blumenfield’s resolution today, Los Angeles raises its powerful voice to insist on a robust response by our Federal government to ease the pain of hunger for the millions of Americans who were struggling before the pandemic, and the millions more who now face barriers to accessing the food they need to feed themselves and their families with dignity."
Blumenfield has been working on the local level to support food-insecure families and struggling Angelenos. Recently he allocated over $100,000 from his discretionary funds to start an emergency nonprofit grant program to help 20 local nonprofits such as the West Valley food pantry and West Valley YMCA, but expanded support to programs like SNAP is essential to help struggling families get by.
“At the City level, we are doing everything we possibly can to help food insecure Angelenos—but our efforts pale in comparison to what Congress can accomplish by boosting SNAP,” Blumenfield said.
Councilmember Blumenfield is committed to helping families in need during the pandemic and he recently published a donation solicitation letter to encourage folks to donate to the 20 local nonprofit grant recipients from his emergency program.
For Immediate Release-
April 10, 2020
Contact: Jake Flynn, 213.473.7003, cell- 310.663.3770
COUNCILMEMBER BLUMENFIELD ANNOUNCES FIRST FOUR $10,000 COVID-19 EMERGENCY GRANTS TO LOCAL NONPROFITS
WEST SAN FERNANDO VALLEY, CA – In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many local nonprofits are struggling to serve vulnerable communities in the West Valley. To support those in need, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield announced he will direct $100,000 from his office’s discretionary funds towards establishing emergency grants for local nonprofits so they can continue their vital services, such as food pantries, senior programs, and homelessness services. He will also share grant applications with other public and private sector potential donors to generate additional resources. This is above and beyond the tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of critical supplies and food he has been donating from his BobCAT (Community Action Team) emergency warehouses.
To accelerate the rollout of these funds, Blumenfield has selected the first four nonprofits to receive $10,000 nonprofit emergency grants. These nonprofits are:
- West Valley Food Pantry (Local Food Pantry based in Woodland Hills serving unprecedented number of hungry clients during COVID-19)
- West Valley YMCA (Local YMCA in Reseda opening showers to homeless individuals during pandemic, running clothing drive and blood drive)
- Guadalupe Center (Catholic Charities organization based in Canoga Park providing food, ESL, tutoring, thrift store and recreational classes)
- ONEgeneration (Senior Enrichment Center based in Reseda providing food and programming for seniors throughout the West Valley)
“This is a tough time for the West Valley,” said Blumenfield. “Many families cannot afford groceries and are going to their local food pantry for the first time. But nonprofits are hurting too and are already struggling to get services to their clients. Nonprofits in the West Valley need support now more than ever and that is why I am proud to have directed $40,000 to four outstanding organizations helping folks in need. I’ve worked very closely with these organizations for years and know that each one of them does critical work for our community.”
In addition to the four organizations that each received $10,000, Blumenfeld is offering grant opportunities up to $10,000 to more nonprofits addressing the needs of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonprofit leaders interested in learning more and applying for these grants, please fill out this simple form. Also, Blumenfield will share these grant applications with other public and private sector donors in an effort to generate additional resources for these important non-profits.
“I encourage additional nonprofits in need to reach out so we can continue ‘helping the helpers’ of the West Valley.”
To continue supporting nonprofits, Blumenfield also created a survey that prospective donors and volunteers may fill out to get connected with local West Valley nonprofits. To complete a survey and learn where help is needed, please go here. To have your organization added to the list of organizations seeking volunteers or specific supplies, write to [email protected].
For more information about the organizations receiving the first round of grants and where the money will go, please check out this video.
Workers who are ill should stay home and not fear lost wages
LOS ANGELES, CA – Concerned that workers may not be aware of their rights, and local employers may not be aware of City requirements for paid sick leave, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield today reminded the community that the City Council passed a law to protect workers who need time off due to illness.
“From washing your hands thoroughly to covering your mouth when coughing, there are many things we can do to help protect ourselves during a pandemic but the reality is that people are going to get sick and they shouldn’t fear losing their jobs,” said Blumenfield. “I am proud to have helped lead the effort to secure paid sick leave and it is critical for the wellbeing of our city that people use it when needed so we can slow the escalation of transmission.”
LOS ANGELES – In an ongoing effort to provide free hygiene products, reduce ‘Period Poverty’ and improve fairness for women in LA, the Los Angeles City Council passed a measure authored by Councilmember Bob Blumenfield to report on the feasibility of providing these products for free in all restrooms in City-owned facilities. Women in the United States face economic disparities and inequities compared to their male counterparts, including the costs associated with basic hygiene such as menstrual care.
Women have little choice but to spend on average $150 to $300 a year on feminine hygiene products, USA Today reports, making girls and women of child bearing age choose between buying needed hygiene products, food, or other essentials. Promoting hygiene, wellness, and public health, Councilmember Blumenfield introduced this motion to make products readily available in public facilities to reduce the financial burden for women and provide a modicum of hygiene equity.
“It’s time to end the stigma around periods and menstrual health that has kept policymakers dragging their feet,” Blumenfield said. “Providing feminine hygiene products at no cost in City-owned facilities should be just as normal as providing toilet paper or soap.”
Blumenfield establishes enforcement and outreach partnership pilot program with MRCA for LA River in the West Valley
LOS ANGELES, CA – Today Councilmember Bob Blumenfield’s initiative to revolutionize environmental and law enforcement along the headwaters of the LA River unanimously passed the LA City Council. This program will establish a pilot program giving authority for the area to the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA). Currently the River is a confluence of jurisdictions which has led to a number of difficult to resolve environmental and quality-of-life issues. Blumenfield’s plan will cut the immense red tape and bureaucratic hurdles that currently exist around solving these issues and improve the environment and safety of the area. Rangers who regularly spend time on the river will be able to respond to any vandalism, illegal dumping, or problems in the area that discourage families from using the path.
“After years of finger pointing and lack of action, we will finally have one tested, competent and trusted governmental agency in the MRCA to handle the complex issues facing the LA River in the West Valley,” said Blumenfield. “This isn’t going to be easy but we needed to do something bold to help resolve these humanitarian and environmental issues.”
“As a community, we’re very excited about this pilot program, because it’ll address many of the challenges we’ve faced on an ongoing basis over the last four years,” said Evelyn Aleman, co-founder of the L.A. River Walkers and Watchers. “We're grateful to the councilmember for his bold leadership and collaboration toward finding short and long-term solutions to an issue that affects our community’s ecosystem and will impact others as the bike path is extended across a 51-mile stretch. It is our hope that this program becomes a part of the L.A. River masterplan."
For the past few years, Blumenfield has worked closely with the LA River Walkers and Watchers, a group of Reseda neighbors committed to preserving the LA River bike path, on a number of quality-of-life issues. On clean up walks together they commonly find needles in shrubs and along the bike path, soiled clothes, fires, vandalized structures, drugs stashed under bridges, as well as people on drugs sprawled out and completely blocking the paths and parks. Recently, drug and gang activity appear to have increased in the river area, resulting in at least one homicide. Additionally, downstream bacteria levels can reach unsafe heights if waste enter the river at the headwaters.