MANH Lawmakers on the Move, May 6, 2020

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Velázquez Leads Charge to Make Pandemic Unemployment Help Tax-Free

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-LES, Brooklyn, Queens) introduced legislation to make the $600 weekly unemployment check provided by the CARES Act tax-free.

The CARES Act included a stipulation for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), an extra $600 a week for workers who are eligible for unemployment benefits. Velázquez’s bill would ensure that that check does not qualify as taxable income. It would also ensure that those receiving the benefit are also eligible for SNAP, TANF and other federal benefits.

“With millions of workers suffering from the most severe economic downswing since the Great Depression, we shouldn’t be imposing an additional tax burden on families struggling to get by,” Velázquez said. “This legislation will protect New York’s working families from paying tax on this assistance or facing an additional tax burden if the economy picks back up and they are able to return to work.”

Espaillat Voices Support for Emergency Rent Relief Bill

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat
U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan, Bronx) released a statement yesterday in support of the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020.

The bill would provide $100 billion in rental assistance for tenants nationwide. The funding would go directly to state and local governments, who would use it to give renters up to 24 months of rental assistance.

“These are unprecedented times as millions of residents around the country face tremendous hardships amid the ongoing public health emergency and global crisis due to COVID-19,” said Espaillat. “Rent is past due for millions of Americans and families, and families, especially the lowest-income families, cannot afford to pay monthly rent. It is clearer than ever that housing is part of our overall health as a society and nation.”

Levine to Host Community Q&A About Antibody Testing

Council Member Mark D. Levine
Council Member Mark D. Levine

Council Member Mark Levine (D-Manhattan Valley, Manhattanville) will be hosting a community Q&A about antibody testing and plasma donation tomorrow.

The Q&A will center around the advent of antibody tests for COVID-19 – what they measure, how they will help New Yorkers, and how you can get one. Levine will be joined by Survivor Corps founder Diana Berrent.

The event will take place tomorrow from 5-6 p.m. on Zoom. To register, click here.

Johnson, Moya Release Statements on Emergency Funds for Final Resting Arrangements

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

Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) and Council Member Francisco Moya (D-Queens) both released statements yesterday in response to the de Blasio Administration’s push to boost funds for final resting arrangements for COVID-19 victims.

Recently, de Blasio expanded eligibility for the fund, so that all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, qualify.

“The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionally hit our immigrant communities,” said Johnson. “Making funds available for undocumented immigrants to have proper burials and also increasing the amount of the assistance for HRA’s program is the compassionate thing to do. For many New Yorkers, the cost of burying or cremating a loved one can be out of reach. They deserve better which is why Council Member Moya and I called for emergency funds to help New Yorkers pay for final resting arrangements for their loved ones, regardless of immigration status. I am glad Mayor de Blasio agreed and is moving forward with a humane plan that will assist more New Yorkers in need.”

“No community has been spared by the COVID-19 crisis but for undocumented immigrants, the disease has been particularly cruel,” said Moya. “Not only were undocumented New Yorkers denied being among loved ones in their final moments but they were also denied a dignified burial among them as well — whether in their adopted country or their native one. That’s just not acceptable, especially in a city built by immigrants. I thank Mayor de Blasio for making these funds available to undocumented New Yorkers and Speaker Corey Johnson for standing with me in support of providing families with emergency burial assistance.”

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