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Coronavirus: Thousands Of Angelenos In Need Receive Prepaid Debit Cards

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Thousands of Los Angeles residents who qualified for financial help from the city began receiving relief in the form of prepaid debit cards Wednesday, part of the mayor's Angeleno Campaign to help low-income individuals.

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Women are tested for COVID-19 by members of the Los Angeles Fire Department wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) in Skid Row amidst the coronavirus pandemic on April 21, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Health officials reported that 43 people tested positive for COVID-19 at one Skid Row homeless shelter. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In total, nearly 500,000 applied for the cards that will provide anywhere from $700 to $1,500 for residents with incomes below the poverty live prior to the Safer at Home orders who have fallen into "deeper hardship" as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

But the donation-based program has limited funds, which means the majority of the applications have been denied.

"I work for a digital marketing company," Angel Jimenez said. "Our clients are beauty salons, spas, bars, restaurants — all of them are shut down, so we have no money coming into the company."

Jimenez said he was laid off due to the lack of work and applied for unemployment, but was denied. So he applied for the Angeleno Card.

"I received a phone call yesterday stating that we will be moving forward with the next steps," Jimenez said.

But hours later, he got an email that said he would not, in fact, be receiving an Angeleno Card.

"I don't qualify for unemployment, I don't qualify for this card," he said. "I have less than $50 in my bank account. I don't get how I don't qualify for that."

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Rick Jacobs, founder of the Mayor's Fund, said that to qualify people had to have been at or below the poverty line before March 13 and be able to demonstrate a loss of 50% or more of their income.

Overall, $10 million will be handed out via prepaid debt card and around 10,000 households will get some money, benefitting roughly 30,000 Angelenos.

But Jacobs wanted people to understand that the Angeleno Card program is funded through private donations, not the government.

"This is all people being generous to other people," he said. "So I would say to anybody that didn't get this that I wish we could figure out a way to make that happen, because we would like for everybody to be able to, but we only have the money that we can raise."

All of the Angeleno Cards from the initial round of dispersement will be handed out by the end of the week. Mayor Eric Garcetti previously said that if more funding comes in, additional cards would be handed out, though the deadline to submit an application has passed.

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