Los Angeles

More Than 50,000 Low-Income Angelenos Apply for Pre-Paid Debit Cards on First Day

Applicants should act quickly, with the application window available just two days.

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More than 56,000 Los Angeles residents applied for prepaid debit cards Tuesday despite the website crashing shortly after it was put online this morning, Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

The servers supporting the website were overloaded and went down, and tens of thousands of people from outside the city and state had tried to apply for the Angeleno Cards, Garcetti said. By mid-afternoon the website appeared to be working.

"We tripled the phone services, we're going to be using a private phone bank on top of our servers," Garcetti said. "This is, right now, just for the city of LA, but we hope to work with the county, other cities and other parts of the country to model this."

The intent was to open the website from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. People who don't have internet access are directed to call in to order at 213-252-3040.

The website being used is the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department's hcidla.lacity.org for the Angeleno Campaign. The campaign had an initial goal of raising $10 million for the debit cards.

The website did intermittently come back online throughout the morning.

The campaign is intended to provide no-fee, prepaid cards with $700, $1,100 or $1,500 to residents with incomes below the federal poverty line prior to the Safer at Home orders, or if they've fallen into "deeper hardship" from reduced work hours or income being cut by at least 50%.

Garcetti said people who are beneficiaries of federal and state assistance can still qualify, as long as income requirements are met.

Cards are available to people regardless of citizenship. People who apply and don't receive a card will be kept on a waiting list, Garcetti said.

The debit cards are being provided through the nonprofit Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles as well as Accelerator for America in partnership with Mastercard's City Possible program.

Both nonprofit organizations are independent from the city's funds.

Garcetti is a co-founder of Accelerator for America, which bills itself as finding and developing solutions to economic insecurity and sharing them with cities.

Gift cards financed by the Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles for people who needed groceries were made available last week and were gone within four days, Garcetti said.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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