Agency Offers Resources Amid High Unemployment
By Dianne Anderson
Long Beach residents are urgently seeking help with housing insecurity, rental or mortgage assistance, both during and after the holidays, as unemployment benefits are soon set to stop for millions of Americans.
It couldn’t have come at a harsher time.
In Long Beach, unemployment hit over 15 percent in September.
Jesse Johnson, with the 100 Black Men of Long Beach, is not surprised at the high number. The problem is widespread and visible.
“It’s universal in L.A. and in Long Beach, there’s definitely a need without a doubt. With the unemployment, it’s just spiraled out, rampant,” said Johnson, also vice president of the local branch NAACP.
About 70% of students in “the 100” program are low income, and families face tougher times ahead as unemployment typically runs twice as high in the Black community over other groups.
The nonprofit is also seeking grant funding as they serve families and students likely impacted by COVID-19.
Long Beach is currently supporting nonprofits through CARES Act grant funding, with half of the city’s $42 million in federal dollars will be allocated through the end of the year to nonprofits that providing services to those most impacted by COVID. They are also calling on Black-led nonprofits to vie for an earmarked $1 million, but all funds must be allocated by December 30.
Recently, Linda Tatum told the Long Beach Leader that she is working on getting dollars into the Black community on time, and is inviting all to check back on their website for more resources and ways to participate in the weeks ahead.
Johnson said that “the 100” is interested in accessing available funding, but he has been concerned about the tight timeline and slow-moving RFP process.
“We are tied in, the 100 is going after the CARES Act funding, but I haven’t heard anything from them since four months ago,” he said.
However, he is excited over some other recent grants that 100 BMLB received, including a Coca-Cola Foundation grant, Ikea mentoring and workforce development. They also received a Wells Fargo junior investment program grant, along with grants from AT&T and Edison International.
Nick Schultz, executive director of Pacific Gateway, said their public workforce entity can connect the community to available and immediate employment resources.
Even in the pandemic, he said there are employment opportunities.
“The other thing we can do is offer up-scaling or retraining if somebody has been permanently laid off. They can come to us and we can fund their training,” Schultz said.
Because of the agency’s relationship with EDD, he said those who fall within guidelines can receive retraining while maintaining unemployment benefits.
There are other significant assistance programs for families with kids at home that can’t return to school. Childcare is also available for struggling parents.
“We have a program that matches qualifying families, families with essential workers or families that meet a certain income [guidelines] can access subsidized childcare through us so they can return to work,” he said.
Through their program’s warehousing and distribution operation, businesses that are open can receive free PPE so when their employees return to work, they can return to a safe clean environment.
Depending on the individual’s qualifications and income level, he said the rental assistance program can issue a $400 or $800 check to help cover a pending or owed rental payment.
Schultz agrees the need in the city is tremendous, and there is also a lot of confusion. Health orders impact when businesses can reopen and when they can operate, which in turn impacts status about when people can return to their jobs, or how many hours they’ll be working.
“People are confused on a continuing basis about how long something lasts, or about how long they’re impacted, or if their job is gone for good,” he said.
But he stressed that health orders are driven by reporting and active cases, and there are no solid answers about when things will get back to normal.
“All we can tell them is what statistical measure we’re looking for, and that’s a little unsettling for people. Unfortunately, we’re letting the data drive the decisions and that’s not reassuring for someone on the cusp of not eating, not paying the bills,” he said.
Although mortgage assistance for homeowners in trouble is not offered through Pacific Gateway, Schultz said the city has a program that they’re launching with HUD Funding. Those who call Pacific Gateway can be directed to the right department.
For more information on workforce help during covid, see
http://www.pacific-gateway.org/ or call Pacific Gateway 562.570.3700
For more information on the CARES Act, Coronavirus relief fund, see
For other resources, see Long Beach Economic Development http://www.longbeach.gov/economicdevelopment