Queens Lawmakers on the Move April 17, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Meeks Calls to Replenish PPP Fund With More MWBE Participation

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, The Rockaways, JFK Airport) yesterday issued the following statement regarding the exhaustion of the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds allocated to small businesses:

“Small businesses are the beating heart of our economy. The $349 billion in small business funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other initiatives has given companies in my community and around the nation a life bridge to survive shutdowns and forced closures, while also providing a strong incentive for small businesses to rehire or hold on to their existing employees.

“Congress must act now to allocate another $350 billion in funds. Businesses that have tried and struggled to get the money must be given prioritized access to these funds in the next round and funds should be allocated to assist the application process for very small business unfamiliar with the Small Business Administration. 

“There must also be transparency in how and to whom these funds are disbursed including information about the participation of MWBE [Minority/Women-owned Business Enterprises] businesses. Finally, there should be carve-outs to ensure minority depository institutions and community development financial institutions are allocated some of the funds to loan out. There is no time to waste.”

Jeffries, Meeks, Clarke, Meeks Host Conference Addressing Black Community Needs During Pandemic

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries

U.S. Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn, Queens), Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) and Gregory W. Meeks (D-Queens) this week hosted the first New York Black Elected Officials conference, creating a forum for black lawmakers to discuss the needs of their community in light of coronavirus, and coordinate action across all levels of government.

They issued the following statement:

“We’ve seen across America that Black and Brown communities are bearing the brunt of coronavirus, especially in New York where our communities are an epicenter within the epicenter of this pandemic.  Black elected officials in the federal, state and local government must work together to address COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on African American communities, ensuring that the essential workers coming from our neighborhoods are properly protected as they take care of our sick, keep our trains running, and our grocery store shelves stocked. We must ensure that emergency federal funding is distributed by need, and that the health care system that hasn’t always worked as well for the Black community is prepared to take care of our particularly vulnerable population.

“Black lawmakers must work collectively across borough and county lines in order to prevent the inequalities that have always existed for minorities from exacerbating an already deadly pandemic. This is an all-hands-on-deck crisis, and everyone is rising to the occasion to address the many needs our front-line heroes and families need.”

Meng Announces New Online Portal for Coronavirus Relief Payments

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) announced yesterday that the U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have launched “Get My Payment,” an online portal that allows taxpayers to track the status of their coronavirus relief payments now going out.

The portal also allows taxpayers to submit their direct deposit information if they did not do so when they filed their 2018 or 2019 tax returns. Once these tax filers provide their bank information, their relief payments will be deposited directly into their accounts, instead of having to wait for a paper check to arrive in the mail. 

The payments are being made under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the third COVID-19 relief package that was recently passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. The payments consist of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. The funds are intended to help many taxpayers with the financial burden that they are experiencing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The COVID-19 crisis continues to take a financial toll on many people here in Queens and throughout the nation, and these payments will provide impacted individuals with needed temporary relief,” said Meng. “I urge those who have not provided direct deposit information to go to this new portal so that they can get their money as quickly as possible. I also encourage people to track their funds if they have not yet received their payments.”

People can visit the “Get My Payment” site at: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.

Gianaris Supports Ren Strike Campaign

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) yesterday issued the following statement as tenant groups throughout the state called for a rent strike in May.

““It has been clear for weeks now that rents cannot be paid with money that doesn’t exist and therefore, rent will be cancelled whether or not we authorize it by law. I urge Governor Cuomo to implement an executive order to cancel rent obligations and bring stability to the housing market before it devolves into a full blown crisis.”

Gianaris has led nationally-recognized efforts to cancel rents. He wrote an op-ed in the Data for Progress blog and has made national media appearances. Efforts to suspend and forgive rent have also been endorsed by former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, among others.

Constantinides Wary on Decision to Close NYC Pools this Summer

City Council Member Costa Constantinides

City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria, East Elmhurst, parts of Long Island City,  Woodside) expressed some wariness following Mayor de Blasio’s decision to close all New York City public pools for the 2020 season, which includes the one at Astoria Park. 

The measure is aimed to help contain the spread of COVID-19, which has infected thousands of New Yorkers. 

“Mayor de Blasio’s decision to close our public pools was no doubt a difficult but necessary decision to flatten the curve. It’s unforeseeable that people will properly be able to social distance at our pools, especially at Astoria Park — one of the largest in New York City. Challenging times require tough decisions, but they are meant to keep everyone safe,” said Constantinides. 

“Still, Astoria pool and other facilities provide our youth with seasonal jobs as well as a respite for those who cannot afford summer programing or other amenities. With a little more than two months until the academic year ends, the City must come up with a plan to provide our youngest New Yorkers with quality programming that keeps them safe, engaged, and healthy. I am ready to work with the administration to find a constructive solution to this,” he added.