More than 60 advocacy groups representing low-income New Yorkers are calling on Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to hold an emergency session of the state legislature to enact a COVID-19 relief package.
The package would include a hardship fund for small landlords that could enable cancellation of rent in the state.
“Many of the most vulnerable New Yorkers may not make it through the end of the year unless they receive immediate help and relief from New York’s state government,” warn the groups in their letter to the politicians.
The call comes after Governor Andrew Cuomo hosted a Governors Summit with his counterparts in the northeast at the weekend as the coronavirus continues to plague the nation and fears grow that upcoming holidays will cause “living room spread.”
“I believe this situation is going to continue to deteriorate over the coming weeks,” Cuomo said after calling six governors from the states surrounding New York to participate in the summit.
Today (Monday) New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced further restrictions on restaurants in the state as its COVID positivity rate rocketed up to nine percent.
Governor Cuomo infection rates in so-called cluster areas is 4.19 percent today (Monday) and 2.50 percent elsewhere. The state has considered a three percent rate as a ceiling to imposing tougher restrictions.
“COVID-19 is spreading in New York, and the increased number of cases is taking place throughout the state,” said Cuomo. “This is not an Upstate or downstate issue—all New Yorkers, regardless of where they live, have cause for concern.
“We are continuing to use a comprehensive micro-cluster strategy and increase our testing capacity to new heights. However, our success also depends on the vigilance and smart behavior of New Yorkers. Wash your hands, stay socially distanced and wear a mask. Local governments, do the enforcement. “
Amid a growing spike in new COVID-19 cases, the advocacy groups wrote to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie calling for an emergency COVID session to provide immediate relief to the most needy New Yorkers.
A federal relief package benefiting New York may not happen until February at the earliest, they noted, writing, “That’s several brutal months away in the eyes of New Yorkers we organize and represent – people finding it harder and harder to make it through each day.”
They call on Stewart-Cousins and Heastie to reconvene the state legislature before the end of 2020 and enact the following measures: a real universal eviction moratorium; a hardship fund for small landlords that can enable cancellation of rent; a relief fund for excluded workers; elder parole for incarcerated New Yorkers; an end to the torture of solitary confinement; rent relief to re-house homeless New Yorkers; and higher taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers.
“These measures are crucial for ensuring a just and equitable recovery from COVID-19… What New Yorkers across the state need is a state legislature that meets this current moment of unprecedented crisis, instead of running away from it. The state legislature should be working tirelessly to improve the lives of the New Yorkers most impacted by COVID-19,” they tell Stewart-Cousins and Heastie.