Spring is in full swing in LA and as summer approaches we are looking forward to a return to Los Angeles where we are all vaccinated and resuming many of the social activities we have missed while quarantining.
Just this week, age restrictions for COVID-19 vaccinations have been lowered to now include children ages 12-15, which will go far to helping us all feel safer for children to return to school. Although vaccinations for schools in California are not mandatory, the CDC and the FDA are encouraging parents to say “yes” to the vaccine, which is now available at LA City run vaccination sites. Appointments for anyone under 18 need to be made by a parent or legal guardian who must give consent to a provider administering the vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is the only COVID-19 shot that has been given the thumbs up from the federal government for kids 12-17 years old. Just like for adults, it’s two shots, 21 days apart. As part of the recommended expanded use of the Pfizer vaccine, the FDA issued a fact sheet about vaccination in kids 12 and older. Please read it here. Click here for a list of locations specifically offering the Pfizer vaccines.
If you are indeed interested in getting your child vaccinated, you can book an appointment for your child 12 and up through the state's website called My Turn. You can also call California's COVID-19 hotline at 833-422-4255 or check with your family doctor.
And please note that while the CDC has eased mask guidelines for fully vaccinated people with some exceptions, LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer is taking a more cautious approach, saying mask rules won’t be relaxed until after regulators with California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health hold a board meeting late next week to discuss updated workplace rules.
Also, summer programs are opening throughout the region in which many families will want to participate. The LA Department of Recreation and Park has a wonderful wealth of programs available to all Angelenos, some of which are listed further down in this newsletter.
Councilmember Paul Koretz, Fifth District
In the News
- Jane Unchained News [Facebook Live Video]: Koretz Proposal To Create Wildlife Corridors
- Mayor Garcetti Lauches Bilingual Vaccination PSA Campaign
- Is Fair Trade The Future of Our Economy? [Facebook Live Video]
Senior Fraud Awareness
Senior fraud is a growing concern as approximately 5 million cases of financial exploitation of the elderly in the U.S. occur each year and the financial loss by victims amounts to more than $2.9 billion annually.
That is why each year Councilmember Koretz leads the City Council in declaring May 15th as Senior Fraud Awareness Day in Los Angeles as part of an annual declaration of May as Older Americans Month. The City Council has kept up the May 15 tradition since 2013 as part of a birthday celebration of former City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl who passed away in 2016. He was a passionate advocate for the health and safety of the senior citizens of Los Angeles.
One of the side effects of social isolation in older adults is that it leaves them vulnerable to fraud and deception. Be assured that the worst kinds of swindlers and con artists are working around the clock to mark seniors, often using fear and confusing federal updates on taxes, social security, credit and debt, insurance and medicare and this last year especially, the pandemic to make the cons more sophisticated, both in messaging and through the use of technology -- from phone calls and emails to cell phone texts, alike. And even the most nimble sober mind who might have been taken advantage of, could be too proud to report when they have been defrauded. Additionally, as you all know, homelessness is the most critical issue facing our city, and financial fraud is sadly ALSO causing many seniors to fall into homelesssness, as well.
Unfortunately, senior fraud is under-reported due to older adults’ embarrassment and lack of information on where to report such fraud. For resources and services, please contact the LA Department of Aging at (213) 482-7252 or visit their website at http://aging.lacity.org
TO REPORT ALL SCAMS:
Please call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357
TO REPORT MEDICARE FRAUD:
Please call Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-855-613-7080
TO REPORT SENIOR SCAMS:
Please call the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Hot Line at 1-855-303-9470
TO CONTACT THE STOP SENIOR SCAMS* ACTING PROGRAM, please email SSSAPU@gmail.com or visit the Stop Senior Scams Acting Group facebook page
Getting The City More Involved In Mental Health Issues
In California, the state and county governments historically and statutorily have been responsible for overseeing mental health issues, and given the circumstances in our neighborhoods and communities, it is widely agreed that they haven’t done an adequate job.
Notoriously, back in the 1960s as criticism built to a breaking point, the state began a process of closing the majority of its state mental hospitals with the goal of devolving treatment and residential facilities to the local level accompanied by adequate funding to meet the need. Unfortunately, the hospitals were closed without the other goals ever being met.
The result was a visible increase in the number of persons suffering with mental health conditions with little access to treatment and a hit-and-miss access to places to live. It’s no coincidence that the phenomenon has continued to grow in the decades since. Now, these issues permeate the homeless population to the point where observers argue as to whether they impact some, many or most of those living on our streets.
Councilmember Koretz has long been concerned about the failures of our mental health system. In last week’s newsletter, his new effort to strengthen treatment and resources for pregnant and postpartum women was highlighted. Now, he’s renewed his effort to address the issue on a broader scale.
On Tuesday, May 11th, the Councilmember introduced a Resolution calling for the City to support five bills currently pending in the state legislature to address various aspects of mental health treatment. Building upon his 2019 resolution (approved by the Council in March 2020 just as COVID pandemic broke out) calling for support for legislation that would simplify Medi-Cal reimbursement procedures for counties, simplify institutionalization procedures, stabilize state mental health funding at levels sufficient to meet the needs of counties, and re-involve the state in the provision of community-based facilities to house and treat persons experiencing mental health issues, it also focuses on new bills that address several of those issues.
The bills include AB 822 (Rodriguez) which aims to improve Medi-Cal-related mental health services and reimbursements, SB 293 (Limon) which would simplify Medi-Cal specialty mental health application procedures, SB 106 (Umberg) which would simplify access to state mental health “innovation funds” for cities and counties, AB 1340 (Santiago) which would, among other provisions, expand the definition of “gravely disabled”, require the State Department of State Hospitals to create a model discharge plan for Counties, and clarify the use of Proposition 63 funds for these purposes, and AB 988 (Bauer-Kahan) which streamlines the procedures for obtaining help for those in crisis.
As things stand now, local service providers are underfunded, and in addition persons suffering from grave mental issues can only be institutionalized with their permission (which often isn’t easy to obtain). Passage of these bills could improve those situations and make it easier for the state and the county, as well as the City, to help those in need. And, just as importantly, addressing the homelessness crisis also requires addressing the mental health crisis by re-involving the state in the effort.
Councilmember Koretz’s resolution has been referred to the City Council’s Rules Committee for further consideration.
Holding the Gun Industry Responsible
Councilmember Koretz put forth a Resolution in support of HR 2814 (Schiff)/S. 1338 (Blumenthal), which seeks to repeal sections of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), that has shielded gun manufacturers from liability particularly when it acts with negligence and disregard for public safety.
The PLCAA, which was signed into law in 2005, contributes to the ongoing gun violence epidemic in the United States by enabling the gun industry to evade accountability at the expense of victims and survivors of gun violence. In fact, the gun industry has successfully argued that this law provides the industry immunity from civil liability, even when an entity has caused harm through negligence, the sale or manufacture of defective products, or irresponsible behavior. HR 2814/S. 1338 would also permit victims and responsible industry actors to use gun trace data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms which can show whether or not industry actors have acted irresponsibly; and would create more paths to justice and recovery for victims and survivors of gun violence. Hopefully, it would also incentivize good business practices and make sure that irresponsible actors in the gun industry can be held to account
Tax Deadline Monday, May 17 - File for Free!
If you haven't filed your taxes yet, you can still take advantage of the free tax preparation services available through non-profit partners across Los Angeles County.
If you are low-to-moderate income household, you may be eligible for the Federal and Cal Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC). The Federal EITC is a refundable credit worth up to $6,660 that is available to low-to-moderate income individuals and families. The Cal EITC is worth up to an additional $3,027.
In previous years, nearly 1 million Los Angeles County residents received an EITC refund, but an estimated almost 330,750 did not apply for it, leaving almost $580 million on the table.
In fact, if you qualify for the CalEITC, you may also qualify for the Golden State Stimulus, a one-time payment of $600 to $1,200 depending on eligibility. To claim the stimulus, you must file a 2020 tax return. Learn more about eligibility by visiting www.goldenstatestimulus.com.
Please text "TAXCREDITSLA" to 211-211 for info on filing for free and claiming credits to get the most money back in your pocket!
For a list of locations and hours, please visit FreeTaxPrepLA.com. Drop-off services do require appointments,and assistance is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Persian, Armenian, and Korean.
In addition to Free Tax Preparation, City Family Supportive resources are available at the City's FamilySource Centers during COVID-19 including online tutoring, hygiene kits, food banks, tenant/low-income housing support, CalFresh assistance, and more. Please contact a FamilySource Center to see if you qualify, and please visit FreeTaxPrepLA.com to find a location near you or visit https://freetaxprepla.unitedwayla.org
You can also file for free online at www.myfreetaxes.org
Do Your Part to Spruce Up Los Angeles
The City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works, Office of Community Beautification and Keep Los Angeles Beautiful invites you to the 3rd Annual Virtual Beautification Conference on Tuesday, May 18th at 10 a.m. This year's theme "Stronger Together" captures the core belief that by working together and forming strategic partnerships we can beautify and improve the quality of life for all Angelenos.
LA residents, neighborhood councils, community leaders and stakeholders are encouraged to register here
Got Bulky Items?
Even as there is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, many people are still tackling home cleaning projects resulting in lots of big items being discarded. Remember that LA Sanitation and Environment will collect those items at no extra charge. That said, dumping or abandoning them curbside without arranging for pickup is not OK, and is in fact illegal.
Los Angeles City residents are encouraged to use the 3-1-1 App or dial 3-1-1 from your phone to request free bulky item pickup. You can also call 800-773-2489 or visit www.lacitysan.org for more information.
LA Parks Offers Summer Play L.A.
The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks is offering structured child care for kids ages 6 to 14 this summer. There will be games, sports, fitness activities, arts and crafts and more! All activities have been designed with social distancing in mind. Online registration for Summer Play LA is open now! You can learn more about participating parks near you and sign up for a summer of fun at https://www.laparks.org/2021summerplay/sitelist
Summer Fun Sleepaway Camp with UCLA Uni Camp
UCLA UniCamp is an overnight camp program established in 1934. We provide learning opportunities for children who wouldn’t normally get a traditional summer camp experience. UCLA UniCamp counselors are UCLA students who train for months to be ready for camp and help fundraise to help lower the costs of camp.
The camp focuses on three areas of growth for our participants:
- Social Emotional Skills
- Leadership Skills
- Connection to Nature
Please visit www.unicamp.org/register or click below to download the flyer.
Here to Serve
My office, like all City of Los Angeles offices, is following recommended protocols such as social distancing and working remotely to slow the spread of the coronavirus. That said, my staff and I are always readily available to help with your questions, concerns, and needs during this difficult period. We can be reached by phone at 213-473-7005, 323-866-1828 (West LA), or 818-971-3088 (Bel Air/ Encino) and through email email@example.com. Since we are experiencing a higher-than-normal volume of calls, feel free to email the staff member you wish to contact directly. The accompanying link contains those e-mail addresses.