President Donald Trump extended the COVID-19 unemployment benefits for Americans around the country Saturday, bringing needed relief to Santa Clarita residents who have been without work since the onset of the pandemic.
Trump officially announced a pay-roll tax holiday, continued the eviction moratorium and expanded unemployment benefits to $400 per week in expanded benefits.
Trump said the federal government would be expanding the unemployment, with the federal government floating 75% of the payment and the 25% coming from the states.
Trump also promised relief to student loan borrowers, slashing the student loan interest rate to 0%.
Santa Clarita’s unemployment rate went from better than full employment before the quarantine to a historic high of more than 20% in May.
Alexis Arellano, a professional costume designer that has worked on sets and movie shows throughout Los Angeles, as well as the Santa Clarita Valley, said the unemployment extensions from the government would help her.
“The extension of unemployment would help immensely because some/most of us (in the film industry) have no choice but to be unemployed,” said Arellano, a Valencia resident.
Arellano said the majority of her industry has been shut down since the onset of the pandemic, beginning with the stay-at-home orders in March.
“With (COVID-19), there are so many new protocols and rules, productions will have to abide by and these things will take time,” she said. “I even got called for a job, but they still can’t give me a definite start date because it may just keep getting pushed back due to (COVID-19) spikes and trying to figure out the new world of how things will be working in the film world.”
“As long as the state and county regulations are in place that prevent people from going back to work, I do think it’s appropriate for the federal government,” said Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth. “Because people are unable to go back to work, because of the government order, and through no fault of their own. It’s important that the people have some additional support.”
Smyth said he has heard overwhelming support from residents wanting to go back to work. However, they remain in need while government regulations prevent their particular industry from returning to normal operations.
Smyth said Santa Clarita has done a better job than most communities in terms of following the guidelines of the directors of the state and county health departments, which is reflected in the Employment Development Division data for the region.
Data from June 2020 showed the unemployment rate across the county was 19.5%, but in the city of Santa Clarita, it was at 18.6%.
City officials follow state and county health guidelines because Santa Clarita lacks its own public health department. Smyth said the city adopted a moratorium on rent evictions in April, which has continued since.
“We adopted a moratorium in April, and that has continued to apply to both residential and commercial properties. People should not have to worry about losing their homes or their properties due to government orders which have prevented them from working and paying their rent,” said Smyth. “It runs through the end of this month, however, we have extended it several times since April and it is certainly always within the city council’s purview to add an extension as necessary.”