Proof positive: Rental assistance worked

In this week’s newsletter: Good news for a local nonprofit, a crow story goes viral, and more.

Welcome to Wednesday, everyone, where we’ve got some positive news to share about a program from local nonprofit Lift To Rise.

Last week, results of research from the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy showed that a Covid-era rental assistance program administered by the nonprofit served as a crucial stopgap for 35,000 Coachella Valley households, representing about 120,000 residents. 

  • The $300 million United Lift COVID Rental Assistance Program was launched in partnership with local nonprofit Lift to Rise and SoCal United Way. 
  • Among a recently-completed survey’s key findings: Those who received assistance were less likely to have received an eviction notice or be behind on rent, and they reported lower levels of food insecurity, mental distress, and higher levels of personal health. 
  • Bottom line: “We are proud that this report shows that United Lift worked and helped safeguard tens of thousands of residents from homelessness and improved housing stability, food security, and mental health,” said Heather Vaikona, executive director of Lift to Rise.

More input sought for La Quinta park improvements

The La Quinta City Council wants more public input before finalizing plans for major improvements to Fritz Burns Park.

  • City staff has already gathered public input from a community survey as well as several different workshops. At those workshops, residents said their priorities were more amenities, especially new pickleball courts. 
  • The draft master plan, discussed at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting (see page 30 here), incorporated eight new pickleball courts, shade structures, a tree-lined plaza, a water playground and wading pool, and more parking.
  • What they’re saying: Mayor Linda Evans was concerned that so many new additions would draw more people than even the new parking could handle. She wanted city staff to go back to the community to get more input. 

Chavez grandson coming to Coachella

Coachella will host Andres Chavez, the grandson of labor rights activist Cesar Chavez and executive director of the National Chavez Center, on March 29 ahead of Cesar Chavez Day on March 31.

  • Last week, the Coachella City Council approved spending up to $10,000 for the event where Chavez will serve as keynote speaker in an address to the community at the Coachella Library Park. 
  • Details: The event will feature not only a talk from Chavez, but free food and mariachis. 

In other news

Zookeepers at the Living Desert want higher wages as the zoo is in the midst of an almost $100 million capital campaign.

CVUSD parents and students are split over whether school resource officers from the Sheriff’s Department should return to campus.

FIND Food Bank is getting $1 million in funding from Riverside County to expand its service area


Glow in the Park

Friday and beyond | The Living Desert
This ongoing nighttime event features hand-crafted lantern displays that represent wildlife from around the world. The experience starts on Friday and runs until April 30. ($17.95 – $29.29)

2023 BNP Paribas Open
This week and weekend | Indian Wells Tennis Garden
The annual tennis tournament ends on Sunday. Tickets and a full list of activities can be found here. (Ticket prices vary.)

Knot Just Knitters
Today | 10 a.m. | 73-300 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert
Drop-in knitting, stitch and crochet group. Share your skills, stories and projects. Every Wednesday morning and the first and third Monday evenings.

Cathedral City Council special meeting
Today | 2 p.m. | City Council Chambers
This special meeting of the city council begins at 2 p.m. Read the meeting agenda here

Living History Festival
Today | 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. | Coachella Valley History Museum, Indio
More than a dozen exhibits will “come to life” and tell their stories through the eyes of “junior historians,” or local students who will portray pioneers and dignitaries of the Coachella Valley. (Free admission)

Indio City Council
Tonight | 5 p.m. | Council Chambers & online
A closed session will be held at 4 p.m., and the regular session begins at 5 p.m. Read the meeting agenda here

Indian Wells Certified Farmers’ Market
Thursday | 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. | Southwest Church, Indian Wells
Shop for fresh food and produce. Held each week from October through May.

Legislative breakfast series: Assemblyman Greg Wallis
Friday | 7:30 to 9 a.m. | The Mizell Center
The Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce will present its first “legislative breakfast” on Friday with California’s 47th Assembly District Representative Greg Wallis. Enjoy an early breakfast, and get an update on the issues impacting District 47 and the actions being taken to address them. ($40)

Fashion Week El Paseo
This weekend and beyond | The Gardens on El Paseo, Palm Desert
Fashion Week El Paseo, dubbed the “West Coast’s largest consumer fashion week,” returns to the runway on Friday and continues until next week. Experience seven nights of runway shows from top and emerging designers, pop-up shops, designer meet-and-greets, cocktail receptions and more. (Ticket prices vary)

Concerts in the Park
Saturday | 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. | SilverRock Park, La Quinta
Meet your family and friends to enjoy free live music on Saturday. The musical guest this month is The Beatunes: a Beatles tribute band. 

La Quinta Certified Farmers’ Market
Sunday | 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. | Old Town, La Quinta
Find fresh produce, flower bouquets, organic food, live music and more from October through April.

Palm Desert Certified Farmers’ Market
Sunday | 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. | 72559 Highway 111, Palm Desert
Fresh produce and artisan vendors can be found at the farmers’ market every Sunday, from October through April. 

Indio Certified Farmers’ Market
Sunday | 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. | Downtown Indio
The market features locally harvested fruits and vegetables, fresh food, chefs, artisan vendors, yoga and more.

La Quinta City Council meeting
March 21 | 3 p.m. | City Hall
The open session begins at 4 p.m. Find more information about this meeting here

Desert Hot Springs City Council regular meeting
March 21 | 6 p.m. | City Hall Council Chambers
The City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of every month in the City Hall Council Chambers. Find more information about this meeting here

⌛ And finally …

A local woman is going viral on TikTok for a heart-wrenching saga involving a crow she and her four dogs found on a sidewalk. 

  • The woman, whose handle is @cocoa_andhercrew on the app, posted 10 videos detailing the injured crow’s journey. Her first video has over four million views, half a million likes, and about 3,500 comments. 
  • After attempting to nurture the bird back to health, she eventually turned to The Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center for help and encouraged her 75,000 followers to donate to the center.
  • Unfortunately, Linda York at the center discovered the bird had a severe compound wing fracture from which there was no coming back, and the bird had to be humanely euthanized. “I hated doing it, but it was necessary,” she is heard saying on a video. “We actually do save most of them.”
  • What to do: This guide on the Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center’s website answers common questions when people find an injured wild bird.

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