MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Sep. 29, 2020

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Espaillat, Jeffries Call for Additional COVID-19 Relief for Public Transit

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (Photo credit: U.S. House Office of Photography)
U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat

Last Friday, U.S. Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan, Bronx) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) lead several of their colleagues in calling for more emergency transit funding in the next COVID-19 relief bill.

In a letter to Congressional leadership, the representatives asked for additional funding for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and other transit agencies that have taken a hit from the pandemic.

“As you know, public transit agencies around the country continue to face immediate, enormous funding gaps due to sharp declines in ridership due to mandatory shelter-in-place orders and cautionary social distancing,” they wrote. “In past times of fiscal difficulties, the MTA has often relied not on the federal government, but on local and state resources and locally collected revenues. The MTA and New York City Department of Transportation have even put forward an ambitious and cutting-edge plan to implement congestion pricing in New York City as a way of both reducing emissions and traffic in downtown Manhattan while also providing a new source of non-federal funding.

“The current situation, however, is beyond the capabilities of state and local entities to resolve. Only the federal government can provide the kind of assistance that the MTA will need.”

Read the full letter here.

Brewer to Host First Day of School “Day of Action”

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (Photo source: US Departmetn of Labor, CC BY 2.0)
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

Today, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D) will host a “day of action” to prepare Manhattan elementary schools for their first day of in-person learning.

Brewer’s staff and interns will be distributing COVID kits and PPE at more than 50 different public schools across Manhattan. Brewer has promised to host a “thank-you” brunch for volunteers as soon as mass gatherings become feasible again.

The event will take place today, starting at 7:45 a.m. To sign up, click here.

Johnson, Rivera, Menchaca Hail Court Ruling Extending Census Period

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

Last Friday, Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) and Councilmembers Carlina Rivera (D-East Village, Gramercy Park) and Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn) released a joint statement following a court ruling extending the Census deadline by a month.

The previous day, U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh issued a ruling that requires the Census Bureau to continue field operations until Oct. 31.

“This is a win for New York and gives us another month to get a complete count in the City,” they said. “We have seen the Trump Administration try and fail, again and again, to exclude immigrants from the census count and diminish the power of big cities like New York. Shortening the census counting period was just their latest attempt to undercount cities like New York, and they failed again. The stakes couldn’t be higher. The census is about money, power, and respect. New Yorkers are determined to secure every federal dollar we deserve for health care, housing, public education, roads, and more; ensure we keep our congressional representation intact, and show this Administration that no one messes with New York City.

“Donald Trump will undoubtedly try to undermine this judicial order in the coming days, just as he has undermined the count from the beginning. We will continue working tirelessly until the last second of any deadline.”

De Blasio Makes Open Restaurants Program Permanent

Mayor Bill de Blasio (Credit: William Alatriste)
Mayor Bill de Blasio

Last Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced that he will be extending the City’s Open Restaurants program year-round.

The Open Restaurants program launched in June to provide restaurants with outdoor seating options, so that they can continue to operate while allowing social distancing. Since its inception, it has enrolled more than 10,000 restaurants across the City.

“Open Restaurants was a big, bold experiment in supporting a vital industry and reimaging our public space. And it worked,” said de Blasio. “As we begin a long-term recovery, we’re proud to extend and expand this effort to keep New York City the most vibrant city in the world. It’s time for a new tradition.” 

Chin Critiques de Blasio’s Proposed Relocation of Lucerne Residents

Council Member Margaret Chin (Photo credit:
Council Member Margaret Chin

Councilmember Margaret Chin (D-Battery Park City, Chinatown) released the following statement after Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) proposed relocating the homeless New Yorkers currently stationed at the Lucerne Hotel.

Earlier this month, he proposed moving the homeless out of the Lucerne Hotel, which was functioning as an emergency pandemic shelter. However, his proposal involved moving said population to the Harmonia Shelter, resulting in the displacement of existing residents.

“While I welcome the possibility to expand safe shelter options in Lower Manhattan, it is increasingly clear that Lucerne residents have not been brought to the table in the City’s planning conversations,” said Chin. Their voices and needs should be centered to determine the best solutions for their long-term stability.

“Moving these residents from one district to another like a game of ping pong without a holistic plan for how they will be meaningfully supported will simply worsen their trauma and cause more disruption to their lives. They are not asking for a band-aid decision grounded in political convenience; they want permanent solutions that help ensure their stability and recovery.

“I want to be absolutely clear; we need to fight for housing stability for everyone, in every borough, Council district, and Community Board district. The City should be looking at meaningful, permanent solutions to address housing instability everywhere, including Lower Manhattan, where individuals experiencing homelessness are still very much in need of services, programming, and safe shelter.”