BY BETH DEDMAN
Members of Manhattan Community Board Five, state senators and city council members joined a Zoom conference call April 9 to discuss finances for the small businesses of Manhattan and resources for residents enduring the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vikki Barbero emceed the meeting, which was joined by Councilman Keith Powers, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Liz Krueger, Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brad Hoylman and many others.
“We are in a fiscal crisis brought on by the combination of the pandemic and the worldwide collapse of our economy,” Krueger said. “Unless the federal government sends us more money to handle our cost of living. The MTA is plummeting into a severe crisis because no one is riding it. That is hanging over our heads, and we will have to deal with that. We are doing well on our environmental policies.”
Budget cuts that were made earlier in the year have been a serious detriment to the borough’s response to business shutdowns, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried said.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is working to secure funding from the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill passed by congress to benefit New Yorkers filing for unemployment, even those with non-traditional employment. Much of that stimulus bill will also go to benefit the healthcare system. She is working on a bill that will eliminate the student debt of healthcare workers
The IRS has already begun sending out checks to everyone, Maloney said. Small businesses can apply for loans, which can be treated like grants if the money is diverted to benefit employees.
Maloney urged people to fill out the census so that funding could be distributed in the most efficient way possible throughout this crisis and in the future.
Borough President Gale Brewer was pleased to announce that several contracts with manufacturers are in place to produce Personal Protection Equipment for New York hospitals.
Her concerns lie with the future of small businesses. She anticipates business improvement districts and small businesses will be very different after the crisis is over. Her focus is on figuring out how to bring them back when it is.
Council members Keith Powers and Carlina Rivera announced food security efforts being made in the city. A partnership with City Harvest has distributed 700 meals to the East Village, Lower East Side and Chinatown and will continue to distribute the food throughout the crisis. Fresh Direct has helped deliver hundreds of free meals to food-insecure people around the city and will help anyone who reaches out to Rivera’s office for food.
State Senator Brad Hoylman announced that he is working on a bill that will put a moratorium on rent in place for six months after the crisis has ended, meaning that landlords cannot seek unpaid rent until that six months is over.
Hoylman’s office is also seeking ways to bring resources to people facing unemployment.