Queens Lawmakers on the Move October 19, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Meng Helps Introduce Legislation to Help Seniors

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), in collaboration with Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and John Larson (D-CT), have proposed emergency legislation to increase the 2021 COLA to 3 percent following the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) announcement of a meager 1.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security beneficiaries in 2021.

“COVID-19 has brought unprecedented suffering for millions of Americans, especially seniors who have struggled to afford everyday expenses,” said Meng. “The meager 1.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment is simply insufficient for those who depend on this critical social safety net program, and demonstrates a need for long-term fix to the COLA formula.”

According to the Senior Citizens League, COLAs averaged 3 percent between 1999 and 2009. Over the past decade, however, annual COLAs have averaged just 1.4 percent. In fact, of the years in which the Social Security COLA has been increased, 1.3 percent is the second lowest increase.

The recent announcement continues the distressing trend of inadequate annual Social Security COLAs. As a result, the purchasing power of the Social Security COLA has continued to decline along with seniors’ standard of living. Social Security recipients have lost nearly a third of their buying power since 2000.

In addition to ever-rising health care and prescription drug costs, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected seniors’ cost-of-living in other areas, including increased costs for food and nutrition, deliveries, energy and heating, out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatment, and more. Other added costs include personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, as well as internet and data plans which are needed to help counter the negative effects of isolation.

Lee Launches Boroughwide Coat Drive 

Acting Borough President Sharon Lee.

Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee, in partnership with all 14 Queens Community Boards, today announced the launch of a boroughwide coat drive to support families in need as the cold weather months approach.

“Need continues to grow in the ongoing pandemic, and with rising economic insecurity, so many are bracing for increasingly tough decisions. In times of great need, however, Queens always pulls through, and we are in this together,” said Lee.  “If you are able, please consider donating new, warm coats — either for adults or children — as the Borough of Families gears up for the winter months ahead.”

From now through Friday, November 13, New Yorkers can drop off new adult and children’s coats in the lobby of Queens Borough Hall at 120-55 Queens Boulevard in Kew Gardens on weekdays between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM, as well as at the offices of each participating Queens Community Board. For more information, visit queensbp.org/coatdrive.

The coat drive overlaps with the ongoing King’s Toy Drive at Borough Hall benefitting children battling cancer, hosted in partnership with the King Fights Cancer Foundation and the family of 7-year-old cancer survivor King Singh of Queens Village. Residents can donate new, unwrapped toys through Friday, October 30.

Sanders Mourns Activist Cecil Corbin-Mark

State Sen. James Sanders Jr.

State Senator James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Edgemere, Bayswater, Arverne and Far Rockaway) released a statement over the weekend about the death of Harlem activist Cecil Corbin-Mark:

“I am tremendously saddened by the sudden and untimely death of Cecil Corbin-Mark, deputy director of the group WE ACT for Environmental Justice. He was a great community organizer and tremendously successful in moving forward projects that benefit the environment. Cecil spent 26 years with WE ACT and during that time he advocated for the passage of many environmental justice laws, covering everything from lead paint regulations to emission reductions targeting climate change.

Although a Harlemite, Cecil never hesitated to help me when I needed his knowledge and expertise on environmental justice in Southeast Queens or on legislation or policy in Albany. I fondly remember him speaking at an Earth Week Expo that I hosted in my district in April 2019.  We lost a giant in Cecil as an activist who led in the fight to advance human rights.

I think it is our duty to honor Cecil Corbin-Mark and his legacy by continuing his work and taking care of our environment and our world.”