The Immigration and Naturalization Service announced Saturday that illegal aliens seeking amnesty who suffered losses in the Oct. 1 earthquake can apply for disaster aid, and church organizations were being asked to spread the word in the Latino community.
Margie Tiritilli, a spokeswoman for the state Office of Emergency Services, said her office was advised by the INS that anyone who is seeking amnesty under the new immigration act, and who suffered home damages or other losses in the quake, can apply for financial help at one of the seven disaster aid centers.
"We think these people are staying away because they don't believe they can get help," Tiritilli said. "We are saying, 'Come on in and apply.' "
She said it is unknown how many residents have not come forward, but disaster agencies believe "it is a lot" because of the large Latino communities in Whittier, Alhambra and other hard-hit areas.
Family Grant Program
State emergency service officials said that if amnesty applicants meet the conditions for receiving quake aid, they will be eligible for housing assistance and a family grant program, which provides up to $5,000 per family which does not have to be repaid.
Any quake victim who is seeking legalization and is turned down for credit reasons by the Small Business Administration on home or personal property quake disaster loans can apply for the family grants, officials said.
Tiritilli said state officials have asked Los Angeles Archbishop Roger M. Mahony to announce the aid program in churches throughout Los Angeles today. The program applies only to residents of Los Angeles and Orange counties.
By Saturday, the seven disaster centers had processed applications from 6,827 quake victims, another 2,466 victims were awaiting appointments and hundreds of relief checks had already been mailed out.
On Monday, an eighth disaster relief center is opening at the Harvard Recreational Center at 1535 W. 62nd St., Los Angeles. At all the centers, quake victims must arrange appointments in person.