Reaching Out With Resources
It has been a whirlwind of activity at the State Capitol this week, and I want to keep you updated.
I have introduced all of the bills I have planned for our Legislative Session. There are many priorities I am working to accomplish, and I am eager to keep you in the loop as the Legislative process progresses. From pet protections for homeless individuals to drought resiliency, and strengthening the path to home ownership, we are tackling issues that will impact our future in the Valley, and throughout California, for decades to come.
I hope that my staff and I are able to help you and your family through these trying times. As you will see in the following newsletter, there are options to get free COVID testing, new vaccine information, and many places that are offering free food for those who need it.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me via email or online through my Facebook and Twitter. You’re also welcome to call my office at (818) 901-5588 should there be something I need to know about.
Stay safe and be well,
HEALTH AND SAFETY
DECREASING CORONAVIRUS CASES
An additional 2,865 new cases of COVID-19 have been counted in the Valley, which is still a continued slowdown like what we’ve seen in the last few weeks. The communities most affected by cases locally are North Hollywood (270), Pacoima (176) and Sylmar (193). This adds up to 205,981 total cases of coronavirus that have been identified in the San Fernando Valley since the pandemic began. To learn more on how to continue to protect your loved ones, visit the CDC website. To see additional numbers and other reporting data, visit the Public Health website.
LOCAL TESTING & VACCINATION RESOURCES NEAR YOU
As more resources become available in the fight against COVID-19, it is important that know if you qualify, and where you can go for help. Testing and vaccination opportunities are increasing, so check out the list below for additional services.
- CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, NORTHRIDGE (CSUN)
Any students approved to take in-person classes, labs, or internships can receive free COVID-19 testing at CSUN. While not required, testing is encouraged for those attending in-person classes. However, it is not available to those who are committed to remote study. Secure results are available in as little as 24 hours. For more information, check out this special link to get started.
- L.A. COUNTY SPONSORED SITES
Appointments are no longer necessary to get tested for the coronavirus for free at many sites throughout L.A. County. Organizers say that you can show up during normal operations Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. - 3 p.m., and you can get your test. You can register your information while you're waiting in line, just bring your ID and your insurance information (if you have it). Please know that you can still register ahead of time to help expedite the process, but making an appointment will not be required.
- VACCINATION QUALIFICATIONS TO EXPAND ON MARCH 1
Starting Mar. 1, those who are essential workers e.g., supermarkets, restaurants, food processors, agricultural workers, educators, child care specialists, teachers, police officers, fire, and court personnel will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. Those over 16 years old with chronic medical conditions will also be eligible to make a vaccination appointment from Mar. 15.
The City is also making efforts to bring more COVID-19 vaccines to high-density, low-income communities of color. Mobile Outreach for Vaccine Equity (MOVE) will deploy 10 mobile vaccination teams to high-risk areas by the end of next month. The City's pilot mobile vaccination program delivered 4,000 shots in its first two weeks, 90 percent of which were administered to people of color. MOVE team members will assist people with booking appointments and secure transportation, and work to inform the public about the safety of the vaccine.
- PIERCE COLLEGE
Pierce College, in partnership with the Los Angeles Fire Department and Carbon Health, is the City’s sixth super vaccination/testing site to open. The walk-in site expects to vaccinate about 3,000 people a day with the Moderna vaccine. While Dodger Stadium’s vaccination site is a drive-through operation, the Pierce College site is a walk-in site. At this point, those eligible to be vaccinated must have appointments to receive a vaccine. When you visit the link above, you can click the “Carbon Health website” link to confirm if you qualify.
COMMUNITY FOOD PANTRY INFORMATION
- SATURDAYS AT THE ISLAMIC CENTER
Partnering L.A. Regional Food Bank volunteers with the Islamic Center Food Pantry (ICSC) have been able to help distribute fresh produce, dry, and canned goods on Saturdays from 10 - 11:30 a.m. For more information, email email@example.com or visit their website.
- NORTH HOLLYWOOD INTERFAITH FOOD PANTRY HOSTS FOOD DRIVE
The North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry hosts a weekly food drive to help those living with food insecurity. Organizers say they have a wide range of packaged products they distribute each week. This food distribution occurs every Mon. - Fri. from 7:30 - 11:00 a.m. at 4390 Colfax Ave. in Studio City. For more information, click here.
JOBS AND ECONOMY
PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM LOAN APPLICATIONS NOW AVAILABLE FOR SMALL BUSINESS/NONPROFITS
In addition to the Golden State Stimulus that was just signed by the California Governor, there are also Federal programs that are in place that can help us get back to work.
There are several different relief options to help businesses, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
Stating this week through Weds. March 10, the U.S. Small Business Administration is offering Paycheck Protection Program loans to businesses with fewer than 20 employees and sole proprietors. I encourage you to find out if your business/nonprofit will qualify, and take the next steps to helping out Valley get back to work today.
BE CAREFUL OF THESE COMMON TAX AND CHECK SCAMS
As tax season rolls around, so do scammers looking for opportunities to take your hard-earned money. Please safeguard your personal information, and watch out for these kinds of common tax scams:
- Stimulus Payment & Unemployment Benefits Scams: Do not give out your personal information. Most taxpayers will receive their payment automatically as a direct deposit.
- Phishing: Watch out for fake emails or websites looking to steal your personal information. The IRS will never initiate contact with you by email about a bill or tax refund, so don’t click on anything in your inbox claiming to be from the IRS.
- Phone Scams: Criminals impersonating IRS agents and threatening people with arrest or deportation are calling taxpayers.
- Identity Theft: Even when it’s not tax season, scammers are often trying to steal your identity all year long. If you normally receive a tax refund, scammers might try to file a false refund and steal your hard-earned money.
- Return Preparer Fraud: Make sure not to hire unscrupulous return preparers.
- Inflated Refund Claims: Beware of any person or business that promises inflated or “instant” tax refunds. Preparers that ask clients to sign a blank return, promise a big refund before looking at taxpayer records, or charge fees based on a percentage of the expected refund may be trying to take advantage of you.
- Counterfeit Checks from the County: If you are not expecting a check from the County, or if you are doing business with another person or business and you unexpectedly receive a County check as payment, do not cash the check because it may be used to steal your banking information. If you are uncertain about the legitimacy of a County check, please call the County’s Check Verification Line at (213) 893-0203.
For further information about these scams or if you believe you are a victim of income tax fraud, contact the Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs or call (800) 593-8222.
DISPARITIES IN THE WORKPLACE WEBINAR
The Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council will host a free webinar addressing racial disparity in the workplace and securing employment. The webinar is happening on Saturday, Feb. 27, from 2:00 - 3:00 pm, with featured speakers from the UCLA Labor Center. If you are interested in participating, click this link to join.
LEARN ABOUT AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY FROM THE VALLEY
To close out Black History Month, The Museum of the San Fernando Valley, together with the Pacoima Historical Society are offering a free online presentation on the history of African Americans within the San Fernando Valley. The virtual event is happening on Saturday, Feb. 27, starting at 2:00 p.m., and organizers say this is a fun opportunity to learn about the Pacoima you never knew. You can register now by visiting this site.
GRANT HIGH SCHOOL WINS ACADEMIC DECATHLON
Congratulations to Ulysses S. Grant High School in Van Nuys for winning LAUSD’s 40th annual Academic Decathlon. This year’s topic was “The Cold War,” and as part of their victory, Grant High School will lead the LAUSD delegation at the California State Academic Decathlon competition. Several other San Fernando Valley Schools, including Van Nuys, Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies, Verdugo Hills and North Hollywood are also advancing to the State level competition, which will be held virtually from Mar. 3 - 20. Good luck to all our SFV schools!
REMEMBER, WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER
I appreciate hearing from you. If you have a specific question or concern, please click here to send me an email or call my office at (818) 901-5588. You are also invited to share your own stories and experiences, so please feel free to connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.