Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a privately funded campaign Monday to help impoverished Angelenos who may be facing at least one more month of lost income by supplying them with free, prepaid debit cards.
A website and phone number for the program, dubbed the Angeleno Card, appeared to be swamped and unable to process the demand as soon as the application period opened Tuesday morning.
Garcetti said that was due to overwhelming demand, but the website was back up again by Tuesday evening.
A staggering 56,000 applications were submitted on the first day, according to Garcetti.
“Don’t worry if you haven’t gotten through, because there’s two more days still,” he said.
The no-fee debit card is available to city residents whose total household income fell below the federal poverty line before the COVID-19 crisis began and who had their income reduced by at least another 50% due to the outbreak.
The cards will come with $700, $1,100 or $1,500, depending on the size and income of each household, a news release stated.
Assistance from the federal government isn’t enough and won’t reach enough residents, Garcetti said in his daily coronavirus address Monday night.
Cash assistance to families is “exactly what’s needed right now,” the mayor said.
All households must be within the city of Los Angeles to be eligible for the card.
Undocumented Angelenos are also eligible to apply, according to the release.
“Applicants will not be asked anything about their immigration status,” the mayor said Monday night. “We are all Angelenos.”
Applicants need to supply various documents to prove their eligibility.
Applications must be filled out between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at hcidla.lacity.org, or by calling 213-252-3040. The hours apply to both phone and online applicants, the mayor said.
The website, which was working early Tuesday morning, appeared to face a traffic overload later in the day and was not rendering for many users. Many on social media complained that the phone line was busy for hours.
“We’re looking into it getting the website up again. Folks can check back later — there is no advantage to applying early,” the mayor’s spokeswoman Andrea Garcia said Tuesday.
Those who pre-qualify based on their application will get an in-person appointment at a community center, the mayor said. Debit cards will begin reaching those in need Monday, April 20, he said.
The program is a partnership between Mastercard’s City Possible network and the nonprofit Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles. It is not a city program nor funded by taxes.
Recipients may be randomly selected depending on the demand for the cards, Garcetti said.
The number of people who will be helped will depend on donations, the mayor said, adding that he had contributed to the fund.
To donate to the “Angeleno Campaign” program, visit mayorsfundla.org/angeleno.