Panel kills homeless pets plan, BIG checks for SFV & MORE
It goes without saying that homelessness is an exceptionally pressing issue in California, one only exacerbated by the pandemic and resulting financial chaos.
According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, California has more than 160,000 people experiencing homelessness. This is significantly more than that in numerous states. This is disturbing and, quite frankly, unacceptable.
But something that is less frequently acknowledged are the hurdles faced by homeless pet owners, who comprise up to 10 percent of homeless Americans. Unfortunately, many shelters, motels and assisted-housing programs do not permit animals on their property. This forces potential residents to either abandon their pets or live in cars, recreational vehicles and tent camps. Both of these options are unfavorable, to say the least, and often puts emotional stress on everyone – including their pets.
That is why I authored Senate Bill 513. Unfortunately, this worthy bill failed passage yesterday in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. This means there will be no grants to qualified homeless and domestic violence shelters. There will be no money to help provide shelter, food and basic veterinary services for pets owned by those experiencing homeless and domestic violence.
And I won’t be there to shepherd a bill to address this issue, as I’m termed out of the Senate at the end of this 2021-22 Legislative session. It is my fervent hope, however, that someone else will pick up the baton and make another run at a program that is both necessary and humane – on many levels.
This bill was not entirely novel, as it attempted to build on the highly successful Pet Assistance and Support Program, which I championed in 2019 through the state budget process.
But the popular initiative’s first allocation of $5 million in 2019 only was able to assist 28 of the 49 shelters that applied. This necessitated a second allocation of $10 million in 2021, (far short of the $18 million requested).
SB 513 would have made the program permanent, and has the unwavering support of numerous organizations active in the San Fernando Valley. These include Best Friends Animal Society, Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, Valley Beth Shalom and People Assisting the Homeless.
For additional background, the NBC-TV network last Friday began airing a five-minute segment broadcast on affiliates nationwide through the month of August. Watch it HERE. Read a sidebar NBC story on my efforts to help HERE.
Pet owners should not have to choose between keeping their pets and accessing legitimate housing. SB 513 would have served as a long-term solution to this dilemma. We need to make homelessness a thing of the past, one paw at a time.
For additional news you can use, scroll down to see the first installment of some of the sizeable checks I helped provide to San Fernando Valley groups through the annual budget process, updates on life-saving vaccines and MORE.
Be well, stay safe and remember we are all in this together.
(PHOTO CREDIT: LAUSD)
EDUCATORS EASE COVID PROTOCOLS FOR UPCOMING SCHOOL YEAR
In line with LA County's decision to hold off on a mask mandate, Los Angeles Unified School District officials announced they will loosen several COVID policies for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year. The district dropped its mandatory mask mandate, although masks are strongly recommended for students, weekly testing is no longer required and a testing protocol will be used in which students will use at-home rapid antigen tests if they experience symptoms. All students and staff will receive at-home rapid tests on Aug. 19 and must test 48 hours before the first day of instruction on Aug. 22. Finally, students no longer need a daily pass with a QR code to attend school. More HERE.
(PHOTO CREDIT: No Kid Hungry)
FREE SUMMER MEALS PROGRAM OFFERED THROUGHOUT SFV
For the millions of students and families who rely on school lunch services, summer can be a challenge. That is why No Kid Hungry has created an online tool that residents can use to find organizations offering free healthy meals at more than a dozen sites in the San Fernando Valley. Users are encouraged to call each site beforehand to verify hours and availability. For example, some sites require children to eat on-site, while others offer grab-and-go meals. The site additionally has compiled a list of resources that families can use to combat food insecurity. More HERE.
(PHOTO CREDIT: LA County Department of Public Health)
NEW OVAVAX COVID VACCINE NOW AVAILABLE IN LA COUNTY
After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency-use authorization for the Novavax COVID vaccine in July, doses of the new vaccine are now available to LA County residents. Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the Novavax vaccine is protein-based and was developed without the use of mRNA technology. Eligible residents must be aged 18 or older. The vaccine consists of two doses, three weeks apart, and boosters are not authorized for children 17 and younger. More HERE.
(PHOTO CREDIT: CNN)
STATE OF LOCAL EMERGENCY DECLARED FOR MONKEYPOX
Los Angeles County has issued a proclamation of local emergency for monkeypox to address a recent increase in cases. With 496 confirmed cases in LA County, this action is meant to help get ahead of the virus and prevent its spread through vaccination efforts. The federal supply of monkeypox vaccines, however, remains limited and the priority is to administer a first dose of the vaccine to gay or bisexual men and transgender persons 18 years of age and older who had multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last 14 days, including engaging in survival and/or transactional sex. More HERE.
(PHOTO CREDIT: CDC)
NATIONAL IMMUNIZATION AWARENESS MONTH SAVES LIVES
Given how vaccines dominate much of recent health news, it’s timely that August is National Immunization Awareness Month. This highlights the efforts healthcare providers make to protect patients of all ages against vaccine-preventable diseases through on-time vaccination. This year is especially important as NIAM serves as a friendly reminder to catch up on any missed visits and vaccinations that were disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shockingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s public sector vaccine ordering data shows a 14-percent drop in 2020-2021 compared to 2019. A dditionally, the number of measles vaccine orders is down by more than 20 percent. Officials encourage people to talk to health professionals to ensure they and their family are protected against serious diseases by getting caught up on routine vaccinations. More HERE.
(PHOTO CREDIT: San Fernando Library)
FREE STORY TIME FOR KIDS 2-5 AUG. 18 AT SAN FERNANDO LIBRARY
Help toddlers and preschoolers ages 2-5 get ready for school by enjoying books, songs, rhymes and total body movement while learning school readiness skills – and having fun! Called Smarty Pants Storytime, the event will be held Thursday, Aug. 18 beginning at 11 a.m. at San Fernando Library, 217 North McClay Ave. Advance registration required and attendees must be accompanied by their parent or adult caregiver. Attendance is limited, so register early. This event is held in-person, so the LA County Public Health strongly encourages masks and physical distancing indoors regardless of vaccination status. Masks will be available upon request. Register HERE. More HERE.
(PHOTO CREDIT: LA County Library)
FREE TOOLS ON LOAN THROUGH FIVE LA COUNTY LIBRARIES
If you require tools for home repairs or similar projects, five Los Angeles County libraries are offering tools to library card holders at five locations, including a San Fernando branch. The inventory includes hammers, wrenches, electrical cords, kitchen utensils, sewing machines, garden tools, power tools and more. Offerings vary library to library. To be eligible to check out a tool, residents must be age 18 or older and have a card from the LA County library system. More HERE.
BRINGING MONEY TO THE SFV
(PHOTO CREDIT: Sen. Hertzberg website)
LOCAL BUDGET WINNERS REFLECT, SERVE VALLEY DIVERSITY
As promised in the July 22, 2022 edition of Heart of the Valley, below are the first of several local programs and improvements that will soon have a positive impact on a neighborhood near you. The result of an annual budget process to fund worthy San Fernando Valley projects, a combined $24 million will be shared. Watch this space for other Valley winners! (All photos by Steve Fukushima).
MID-VALLEY YMCA OF VAN NUYS RECEIVES $400,000 TO HELP YOUTH ARTS
Lionnel Zaragoza, left, receives a check for $400,000 from Sen. Bob Hertzberg to help the Mid-Valley YMCA of Van Nuys fund the new Youth Institute of Media Arts.
LUMINARIAS INSTITUTE RECEIVES $2.158 MILLION FOR MENTAL HEALTH
Dr. Jose Cardenas, left, and Benjamin Cardenas, center, of the Luminarias Institute of San Fernando, which is dedicated to helping increase accessibility of mental health services to underserved people, are presented with a check by Sen. Bob Hertzberg for $2.158 million to help with mental health programming.
YOUNG AUTISTIC ADULTS LEARN ANIMATION, DIGITAL SKILLS WITH $250K
Sen. Bob Hertzberg, center, presents a check for $250,000 to, from left, Susan Capps, David Siegel, Morgan Chess and Elle Charles to help the Exceptional Minds Professional Training Academy and Studio of Sherman Oaks. The money will be used by the first American computer animation studio and non-profit digital arts school for job preparation programming for people on the autism spectrum.
LA HOUSING TO USE $600,000 TO HELP CARE FOR HOMELESS PETS
Stephanie Klasky-Gamer of the Los Angeles Family Housing Corporation receives a check for $600,000 from Sen. Bob Hertzberg to help care for animals belonging to pet owners experiencing homelessness as part of the state's popular Pet Assistance Program.
REMEMBER, WE ARE A TEAM
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