A program providing free legal services from volunteer attorneys to Los Angeles residents facing "extreme hardships" by the COVID-19 pandemic has begun, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday.
LA Represents will assist people who are facing immediate problems, such as rent, employment issues or domestic violence, Garcetti said during his daily coronavirus update.
"These are complex situations, and we don't always all understand the law, those of us who are not lawyers," Garcetti said. "Having a lawyer and an advocate by your side can make all the difference between a positive outcome or a negative one."
Garcetti said LA Represents will be open to residents regardless of citizenship.
"There are no qualifications. You just need to have a problem that you need assistance with ... without any fear, without any discrimination," Garcetti said. "This is universal."
The program will also develop a legal support system for businesses that have been "devastated" by the pandemic, Garcetti said.
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Some of the assistance LA Represents will provide small businesses include new lease negotiations, applying for business loans or help with interpreting new laws that have taken effect, Garcetti said.
Residents of Los Angeles can go to coronavirus.lacity.org/larepresents to seek the free legal services.
Attorneys volunteering with LA Represents come from "our top law firms, bar associations," Garcetti said. The City Attorney's Office will also be involved, but Garcetti did not provide details.
Garcetti said although he hopes to speak later this week about what businesses and facilities could reopen soon, he repeated his message from Monday that he would not make changes to the Safer at Home orders until consensus is reached with county health officials and neighboring cities.
However, he said wholesale flower distributors were allowed to reopen Tuesday, under certain circumstances, because they are exempt from the state's COVID-19 orders as agricultural businesses.
Garcetti said the flower markets are being monitored and could be shut down if they do not follow the city's social distancing guidelines.
Mother's Day is Sunday, one of the busiest times of the year for flower markets.
The Los Angeles Flower Market in downtown is one of the nation's largest wholesale distributors of flowers, according to its website.