MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Mar. 19, 2020

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Johnson Calls for Ceasing Arrests for Minor Offenses and Incarceration for Parole Violations

Council Member Corey Johnson
Council Member Corey Johnson (Credit: Jeff Reed)

Yesterday, Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) urged the NYPD to cease arrests for low-level offenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Johnson argued that incarceration should only be used when absolutely necessary during a public health crisis such as this. He also called on the state’s Department of Corrections to stop jailing people for technical parole violations.

“People who get arrested end up spending hours and hours in a small room with strangers waiting to see a judge,” said Johnson. “We know that many of these people are at higher risk for COVID-19. The potential for the virus to spread in these close quarters is enormous. We must stop forcing people unnecessarily into an environment in which the virus can easily spread. Many of them will be released within hours, so this is for the safety of all New Yorkers.”

Maloney Leads Call for Moratorium on Foreclosures and Evictions on Federally-Backed Mortgages

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney

Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens) lead 106 members of Congress in calling for a nationwide moratorium on all foreclosures and evictions on federally-backed properties.

In a letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), Maloney and her peers argued that during a public health crisis, a large number of tenants will be unable to afford rent or mortgage payments through no fault of their own.

“As the number of infected individuals and the number of broken supply chains rises, we must take proactive steps to protect the millions of working-class families, low-income households, and minority communities who will be disproportionately affected as increasingly aggressive quarantine measures develop and are implemented on the local, state, and federal levels,” reads the letter.

Read the full letter here.

Hoylman Urges Grocery Stores to Create “Special Times” for Seniors and Immunocompromised Shoppers

State Senator Brad Hoylman
State Senator Brad Hoylman

Yesterday, State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Chelsea, Midtown) sent a letter to several grocery store operators, asking them to make accommodations for shoppers with particular needs.

The letter points out that in the past few days, there have been several reports of overzealous shoppers hoarding basic necessities. To remedy the problem, Hoylman suggests that grocery store operators implement policies to prioritize elderly and immunocompromised shoppers. He also recommends imposing purchase restictions on certain goods.

“These are turbulent times and New York State is doing everything it can to limit the effects of COVID-19,” reads the letter. “But additional steps should be taken to ensure everyone’s safety. I hope you agree that grocery stores should undertake these two common-sense solutions to be good neighbors and aid some of our most vulnerable friends and neighbors.” 

Chin Calls for Emergency Assistance to Frontline Senior Center Workers

Council Member Margaret Chin
Council Member Margaret Chin

Yesterday, Council Member Margaret Chin (D-Battery Park City, Chinatown) sent a letter to the Department for the Aging, voicing a number of requests from senior providers leading the effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

In the letter, Chin points out that senior providers are responsible for protecting one of the most vulnerable demographics from the virus. However, without clear guidance from the City, community groups have had to make tough calls on their own to adjust their work plans accordingly.

Chin has requested the Department to provide them with a plan to distribute additional resources such as face masks, and a pledge to reimburse them for the extra supplies they’ve had to purchase, including gloves, hand sanitizers and thermometers. 

“Our community based organizations have been stepping up in bold new ways to continue their services with the least disruption,” said Chin. “They should be rewarded, but many are adjusting their staffing and protocols to meet unprecedented demands while existential fears about their organization’s survival loom over their heads. Our City should be doing all it can to lift the barriers hamstringing these organizations from doing the work being asked of them.”