New Orleans Business Alliance starts fund for gig workers who’ve lost income due to coronavirus
The New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), a public-private partnership with the city and local community investors, announced Monday it would start a relief fund to help gig workers in the city who have lost income amid coronavirus-related cancellations and restrictions put in place to slow the pandemic.
Gig economy workers in New Orleans include musicians, festival production staff, arena workers, ride-hailing drivers and others. Many of these employees do not have standard benefits including paid sick leave, paid time off, health care or overtime pay.
The number of workers who will need assistance is only likely to grow as more large festivals and events are canceled or postponed. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has not been officially postponed, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended yesterday that there be no events with more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.
The alliance will donate $100,000 to the fund and hopes to increase that to at least $500,000 by getting additional business leaders, community leaders and residents on board, according to a press release.
Workers applying for the grant must prove that they live in Orleans Parish, that more than 60% of their income comes from gigs and that they have lost income due to coronavirus. They must also not make more than 100% of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s annual median income guidelines, which is $47,200 for a one person household in New Orleans.
Recipients will be able to receive award amounts ranging from $500 to $1,000, depending on their need. They may reapply for another award after 45 days if they are still eligible.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell, the New Orleans City Council and French Quarter Festivals, Inc. have said they support the initiative.
“Getting the virus under control is only the beginning — the lingering economic damage is only beginning to come into view. Prioritizing relief for our working people is essential,” City Council President Helena Moreno said in a press release. “This is just one step in that fight to sustain and uplift our people through this crisis.”
NOLABA President Quentin Messer Jr. said that the fund is only one of many steps the community will need to take to deal with the economic effect of the virus on New Orleans’ workers.
“We recognize that this fund will only be part of the solution for most families and will stand alongside Mayor (LaToya) Cantrell and the City Council to aggressively fight for additional resources as the federal response is solidified,” he said. “To our neighbors throughout New Orleans, we see you, we support you, and we will get through this together.”
To apply for the award or donate to the fund, visit www.nolaba.org/relief-fund.
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— By Kaylee Poche