In the midst of her campaign for Manhattan’s 65th Assembly District, Democratic candidate Grace Lee has submitted a bold proposal to protect Chinatown businesses in crisis.
Last Wednesday, Lee, challenger to incumbent Yuh-Line Niou (D-Chinatown, Financial District), released a policy proposal to protect said businesses from insolvency as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As a community, the residents of Lower Manhattan have been here before,””said Lee. “Through September 11, 2001, Superstorm Sandy and now coronavirus, Lower Manhattan will remain vigilant. However, the prevailing fear of the coronavirus has led to a substantial reduction in revenue for our businesses, particularly restaurants and hospitality services in Chinatown.”
Lee’s policy plan consists of three primary measures: first, she recommends defining COVID-19 as a natural disaster, in order to make disaster relief funds available for Chinatown. Second, she recommends the creation of a Small Business Disaster Recovery Program, to provide small businesses with guaranteed, zero-interest loans. Third, she recommends a provision granting property tax relief to commercial landlords who have entered loan forbearance with their tenants.
When asked about the proposal, however, Yuh-Line Niou was unimpressed. A spokeswoman for Niou’s campaign accused Lee of trying to “politicize” the crisis for personal gain. She also insisted that the incumbent is already doing all she can to effectively address the crisis.
“Any attempt to politicize this crisis is shameful, and Lower Manhattan residents deserve better,” said spokeswoman Hayley Brundige. “Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou has been on the frontlines of the fight for her neighbors and local small businesses as we combat two epidemics: the coronavirus and the xenophobic and racist response to it. Yuh-Line will continue fighting and delivering for us, whether it’s fighting for property tax relief for the small businesses in Chinatown and across the city who have watched their business plummet; organizing food tours to encourage people to eat out in Chinatown; working with colleagues in Congress to deliver billions; or coordinating with state and city leaders to deliver assistance to everyone affected.”
Read Lee’s full policy proposal here.