A.M. Brief: New FEMA Policy ‘Like Manna From Heaven’ for L.A. Homeless Program

January 27, 2021 by Brian Champlin
View of Downtown Los Angeles from Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area
View of Downtown Los Angeles from Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area. Photo by Christina Champlin / We Like L.A.

New FEMA dollars to help rent rooms for the unhoused? Sounds good to L.A. city officials. Also this morning: Lower vaccine rates among South L.A. healthcare workers, a big settlement payout by SoCal Edison, and the L.A. Marathon moves to the fall. Here is your Wednesday news brief. Take it!

Morning News Rundown

A change in policy at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could reinvigorate a program to place unhoused individuals in vacant hotel rooms, potentially helping thousands. Per a directive from the Biden administration, FEMA will now reimburse municipalities 100% of what they spend to house people in non-congregate shelters through the end of September. Councilman Mike Bonin described the change in policy as “manna from heaven.” On Tuesday, Bonin introduced a motion to increase the number of rooms the city rents to get unhoused individuals off the streets. [L.A. Times]


For months, we’ve known about the racial and economic disparities in the outcomes of those infected by and killed by COVID-19. But is the same story now playing out in terms of vaccinations? New data suggests a significantly lower rate of vaccinations for healthcare workers who live in South L.A., a region predominately made up of Black and Latino residents. In response to the alarming trend, Public Health officials have moved to open up six more vaccination centers in the area to increase access. [L.A. Times]

Southern California Edison has agreed to pay $2.2 billion to cover claims from multiple lawsuits stemming from a wildfire sparked by faulty SCE equipment. Three people died, 1,600 homes were lost, and over 151 square miles burned in the November 2018 blaze. [ABC 7]

The L.A. Marathon, which was one of the last large-scale events to take place locally before Safer-at-Home started in 2020, has been postponed to at least the fall of 2021. No new date has been set, but organizers are working to pin down details. [The Eastsider]

Have you been feeling anxious or conflicted about friends who are violating stay-at-home orders for travel and/or prohibited gatherings? Does it miff you when they post about it to social media? It turns out there’s a lot of anger out there, and it may complicate our social circles when the pandemic does eventually end. [We Like L.A.]

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the first Los Angeles patient testing positive for COVID-19. Since that diagnosis, more than 1 million county residents have been infected and over 16,000 have died from the virus. [L.A. Public Health]