The Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) is calling for New York State to designate apartment building supers and residential building staff as frontline workers, allowing them to receive the first round of COVID-19 vaccines.
The global pandemic has forced millions of New Yorkers to spend most of their day in their homes and has in turn led to increased cleaning and other maintenance responsibilities for building staff.
Building workers are often in contact with multiple tenants throughout a day and play a vital role in keeping tenants safe and secure, according to CHIP. “These workers should be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination along with other frontline heroes to keep themselves and the public safe,: says the landlord organization.
“Building supers, porters, and handymen have been going above and beyond during the COVID-19 emergency. Doing emergency repairs in apartments. Taking out the trash and delivering packages to elderly residents so they can stay in their homes. And cleaning stairwells, elevators and other high-contact areas around the clock,” said Jay Martin, executive director of CHIP.
“Vaccinating them will protect tenants, along with the workers and their families.”
The COVID-19 emergency has also put immense financial strain on the owners and operators of affordable housing, particularly rent-stabilized housing.
Due to a high number of tenants not paying rent and a growing number of vacant apartments, CHIP estimates that roughly half its 4,000 members are operating in the red for 2020.
Increased spending for cleaning supplies, masks, gloves and other PPE necessary to provide a safe, clean home for tenants have created an added and unexpected financial burden.
“If the government cannot provide more aid to renters, many housing providers are going to struggle to find the cash flow to maintain their properties, which will put tenants and staff at-risk,” said the group in a statement.
“Allowing supers and essential building employees to get vaccinated in the first round would be one way to offset this reality. “