These are difficult times, and we’re doing our best to keep Manhattan informed – which is why we’ve been putting out our daily COVID-19 newsletter (sign up here!).
The effect of coronavirus on paychecks has been sizable, and while local, state and federal governments, along with some businesses, have put a variety measures in place to give New Yorkers a break, it’s hard to keep track of it all. This post hopes to lend a hand by cobbling together all the news relevant to your family’s bottom line that we’ve been sending out in our newsletters. Read on for information on the deferrals, loans, grants, and suspensions available to help us all get by without breaking the bank.
Applications have now opened for the State EDC’s New York Forward Loan Fund that I wrote about in Wednesday’s (5/27) newsletter. See the pre-application information here. Read Wednesday’s (long) explanatory blurb on my website.
TL/DR: If your business or organization– including MBWEs– hasn’t received any other government help, this program will loan you up to $100,000 on pretty favorable terms.
- New York City is still waiting on meeting Phase 1 reopening benchmarks (we’re still short on contact tracers and hospital bed capacity); but today the Governor released guidelines for Phase 2, for businesses ranging from “All Office-Based Jobs” to “limited” barber shop and salon services (and many businesses in between).
- Registration opens at 9 am on Monday (6/1) to sign up to testify live at the NYC Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) public hearings scheduled for June 10 and June 11. The RGB has proposed a rent freeze for one-year renewals and, for two-year renewals, a rent freeze for year 1 and a 1% increase for year 2.
- Don’t be confused! Although courts in neighboring counties in Westchester and Long Island have opened, courts across the five boroughs remained closed with limited virtual operations. See nycourts.gov for updates.
- The affordable housing lottery has opened for 70 income-restricted units at The Smile, 158 East 126th Street. Apply at NYC Housing Connect.
- Tomorrow (5/29) at 12 noon, the NoHo BID and the Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce are hosting “Community Talk: Opening NYC Streets for Social Distanced Dining,” a conversation featuring Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Member Carlina Rivera, and NYC Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Rigie. Send questions ahead of time to email@example.com, register here, or just join on Zoom.
- Yesterday I joined Community Board 11 for a forum on housing; it was a great discussion, but if you couldn’t join us, here’s the full video of our conversation.
If you have children who attend public school in your household, you will automatically receive the $420 per child from NY State that would have been spent on school lunches during a normal school year. The funds are disbursed as follows:
If you are on SNAP and cash assistance: You should have received an additional $193 deposited to your EBT card on May 19. The remainder, $227, will be deposited on June 16.
If you are on Medicaid only: You will receive the full $420 amount per child during the last two weeks in June.
If you are not on any assistance or benefits program: you will be mailed a $420 EBT card this summer from the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.
Yesterday we mentioned Gov. Cuomo’s announcement of a new $100 million New York Forward Loan Fund. Here are more details.
NYFLF will make under-$100,000 working capital loans to NYS small businesses, nonprofits, and small landlords of under 20 employees and gross revenues of under $3 million. Applicants are ineligible if they received SBA funding through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).
Loan amounts will be the lesser of (a) $100,000 or (b) up to 100% of average monthly revenues in any 3-month period from 2019 or first quarter of 2020. For small businesses and small landlords the interest rate is 3%, for nonprofits it’s 2%, and all are for a five-year term with interest-only payments due during the first 12 months. No collateral is required and there are no application fees or prepayment penalties. Eligible use of loan funds include working capital, inventory, marketing, refitting for new social distancing guidelines, operating and emergency maintenance, property taxes, utilities, rent and supplies.
You should know that Pace University’s Small Business Development Center can help business owners apply for these loans. Email sbdc@Pace.edu to arrange a free virtual meeting to discuss this and other small business financial programs.
- The Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence has announced the Safe in the City grant program, which will provide grants ranging from $500 – $1000 to NYC residents and nonprofit groups to fund community-centered actions and activities to make neighborhoods safer from gun violence. The program’s first deadline is June 30; learn more and apply here.
- Tomorrow (5/28) at 11 am, Enterprise Community Partners is hosting a pre-application conference call for nonprofit development corporations interested in applying for the New York State Non-Profit Housing Recovery Program. These grants of up to $200,000 will support up to ten nonprofits that operate affordable housing and are acting as first responders in communities hit hardest by the pandemic. Join the call on Zoom using Meeting ID: 690 773 1795 and Password: 268228.
Three tenants’ rights events tomorrow:
Tomorrow (5/28) from 6 – 7:30 pm, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is hosting a Housing Rights Legal Clinic with attorneys available to answer questions; Spanish interpretation will be available. RSVP here.
Tomorrow (5/28) at 6 – 8 pm, the West Side Neighborhood Alliance’s general meeting will discuss issues and organizing during the pandemic. Register here.
Tomorrow (5/28) from 7 – 8:30 pm, State Senator Krueger and Legal Aid Staff Attorney Ellen Davidson will host a meeting focused on renter questions and concerns. Register and submit questions here, or watch the event on Facebook Live.
- Tomorrow (5/27) at 6:30 pm, I’ll be joining Community Board 11 for a Virtual Housing Forum; we’ll be discussing the current eviction moratorium and its impact on tenants. RSVP here.
- The “New York Forward Loan Fund” is a new $100 million economic recovery loan program aimed at supporting NYS small businesses, focusing on minority and women-owned businesses that did not receive federal COVID-19 assistance, especially those with 20 or fewer employees and less than $3 million in gross revenues. Learn more on how to apply.
- Businesses can use this lookup tool to determine what phase of reopening we are in, where they are allowed to operate to date, and the affirmations for businesses needed once a region is in Phase 1. (Some businesses in NYC in anticipation of Phase 1 reopening have already made their affirmations.) Please be aware of these tools so you are prepared to enter into Phase 1 when NYC opens. Businesses can use this lookup tool to determine what phase of reopening we are in, where they are allowed to operate to date, and the affirmations for businesses needed once a region is in Phase 1. (Some businesses in NYC in anticipation of Phase 1 reopening have already made their affirmations.) Please be aware of these tools so you are prepared to enter into Phase 1 when NYC opens.
- The Governor also announced the members of a new state-level Blue-Ribbon Commission, which will advise on improving tele-health and broadband access. A list of members (and of all the appointed reopening task forces) is available on my website.
- Tomorrow (5/27) from 11:15 am – noon, join the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for “Too Important to Fail: Minority-Owned Businesses Navigating COVID-19 and Beyond,” a forum on the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and communities of color– and how capital providers can best support them. Register here.
- Tomorrow (5/27) at 1 pm, join NYC & Company for a “Talks session on the State of the Industry,” which will touch on the early work of their Coalition for NYC Hospitality and Tourism Recovery, and provide an update on the latest news and forecasts for the hospitality industry. RSVP and submit questions here.
- The City’s Department of Small Business Services is hosting a series of free webinars and mentor sessions for small business owners and entrepreneurs on topics ranging from QuickBooks, to content creation, to pandemic resources. Learn more and register here.
- The affordable housing lottery has opened for 22 income-restricted units at Waterline Square, a development between 59th and 61st Streets along the Hudson River. Learn more here, and apply at housingconnect.nyc.gov.
- This morning’s (5/21) meeting of the Manhattan Borough Board is now posted on YouTube.
Tonight (5/21) from 6 – 8 pm, join Union Settlement for a Digital Marketing Workshop that will guide participants in building online presences for individuals or businesses, with the same workshop in Spanish on Tuesday (5/26) from 6 – 8 pm. Register here for either date.
- Tomorrow (5/21) at 2 pm, the City Bar Justice Center’s Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project and Cleary Gottlieb are offering a webinar for small business owners focused on contract issues that may arise as a result of COVID-19. Register here.
- Tomorrow (5/21) from 2:30 – 3:30 pm, City & State is hosting a webinar titled “Nonprofit Resources: Operating Remotely During COVID-19,” featuring United Way of NYC CEO Sheena Wright, Fortune Society President and CEO JoAnne Page, and Jewish Board of Family & Children Services CPO John Kastan. Register here.
- Applications are open until Sunday, May 31 for The Shed’s annual Open Call: the grants will support early-career artists and collectives of all stripes to make new work, and will grant them a featured space in The Shed next year. From performers to plastics, writers to DJ’s, all types of artists and groups are welcome, provided they have not yet received major institutional support. Learn more.
The Artist Relief grant program, which distributes $5000 grants to artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19 and provides resources and guidance to grantees, still has applications open for their second cycle, which closes on Thursday (5/21) at 11:59 pm.
Tomorrow is the deadline for submissions to the Arts Writers Grants Program, which supports both emerging and established writers whose work discusses contemporary visual art with grants ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 awarded in three categories: articles, books, and short-form writing.
- An update on state unemployment benefits, which are now being loaded on debit cards issued by KeyBank and First Niagara. The cards, once received, can be activated by calling KeyBank Customer Service at (866) 295-2955. The only KeyBank ATM in NYC is at 11 East 22nd Street (just east of Broadway) but no-fee withdrawals can also be made at any Allpoint ATM– see locations here. Learn more.
- The Downtown Alliance has expanded the criteria for their Small Business Rental Assistance Grant to offer immediate help to more storefront businesses currently providing vital services to residents and workers in Lower Manhattan during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their initial round of applications is closed, but more businesses can apply as of Thursday (5/21) at 9 am.
- The City Human Resources Administration has released the application for the Cooling Assistance benefit, which helps eligible households buy and install an air conditioner or fan up to a cost of $800.
- The City is still hiring contact tracers to reach out to the contacts of those diagnosed with COVID-19 to track the spread. Learn more, and apply here.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration and Department of the Treasury have released the Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application to help small businesses seek forgiveness at the end of the eight week period following the receipt of the loan. See more information here from the Pace Small Business Development Center, or make an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Last month the Mayor announced a $5 million City investment to provide free internet-enabled tablets for 10,000 senior NYCHA residents to help them remain connected with their loved ones, in partnership with T-Mobile and Older Adults Technology Services. Eligible seniors (62 and older, living alone or with another senior only) can email email@example.com or call (929) 505-6208 and (929) 237-3069 (M-F 9:30 am to 4:30 pm) to register. Please let our office know at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (212) 531-1509 if you have any issues.
- The City’s Independent Budget Office (IBO) has released a report analyzing the Mayor’s Executive Budget for 2021, issuing a call for concern among growing job losses and a continuing recession.
- Tomorrow, Saturday (5/16) at 10 am, I’ll be joining the Meatpacking District’s Business Improvement District for a conversation in their “Meatpacking Unpacked: Community Connected Saturday” series. I’ll be discussing what can be done to help businesses and communities rebound. RSVP and submit questions here.
- Next Thursday (5/21), I am hosting the online public session of the monthly meeting of the Manhattan Borough Board, a formal body composed of all Council Members and Community Board chairs in the borough. Register to attend at this link and you’ll receive an email with instructions on how to be in the online audience. We’ll be discussing the necessary measures for any potential reopening of Manhattan.
- For those looking to renew their driver’s license online, the DMV has announced that eye tests are now allowed from any doctor or optometrist’s office that is open, not just those normally approved to submit to the DMV directly. Learn more.
- On Saturday (5/16) at 10 am, I’ll be joining the Meatpacking District’s Business Improvement District for a conversation in their “Meatpacking Unpacked: Community Connected Saturday” series. I’ll be discussing what can be done to help businesses and communities rebound. RSVP and submit questions here.
- Governor Cuomo today released details on the State’s plan for Industries Reopening by Phase; defining guidelines for how construction, agricultural activities, retail trade, and other industries will begin to reopen over time. Learn more at forward.ny.gov.
Even though New York City is on pause, new affordable housing is still becoming available. One opportunity is at Roosevelt Island’s River Walk Park, currently accepting applications here until July 6, 2020; available units and income requirements are posted here. For help with applying to affordable housing, please check out HPD’s resource guide, “Ready, Set, Apply!” (Click here for English (PDF)– or here for other languages.)
Those needing assistance with housing subjects can call the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants by asking for them at 311. You can also reach the New York Legal Assistance Group’s COVID-19 hotline, available from 10 am – 1 pm Monday-Friday at (929) 356-9582.
- The City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) launched its Driver Resource Center yesterday (5/12), offering drivers services including legal services, financial counseling, health and mental health referrals, and support with applying for public benefits.
- The Associated Press has now obtained the complete 63-page Centers for Disease Control (CDC) document advising on how to safely reopen businesses and institutions that I wrote about in last Friday’s (5/8) newsletter. Here is a link to that complete 63-page document, and here is a link to that followup AP story.
- A survey for small business owners and managers in East Midtown and the Upper East Side has been released by Community Board 8, in partnership with the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District, the East Sixties Neighborhood Association, Carnegie Hill Neighbors, and the East 86th Street Association. Access the CB8 survey here.
- Tomorrow (5/12) from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm, the NoHo BID and SoHo Broadway Initiative are hosting “Coping with COVID-19: A Conversation about Commercial Leases,” a panel discussion on how commercial property owners and businesses are working through challenges related to the payment of rent, negotiating forbearance agreements, payment of pass-through expenses, enforcement of personal guarantees, and more during the COVID-19 crisis. Register here.
- NYC Service, a division of the Office of the Mayor, is providing one-time funding of up to $10,000 to support nonprofits engaging volunteers to deliver essential services, particularly meals and food, to residents throughout the COVID-19 crisis. View all eligibility and funding details. Applications are due next Monday (5/11) at 5 pm.
Tonight (5/7) at 6:30 pm, I’ll be co-hosting a virtual town hall with Council Member Brad Lander on the resources available for freelancers, featuring Nicole Salk from Legal Services NYC, Rob Piechota from the US Small Business Administration, and Divya Sundaram from Community Voices Heard. Register here.
I’ve compiled a list of grant opportunities for freelancers on my website. (The list is too long to go into here).
- Today Governor Cuomo extended the residential and commercial evictions moratorium to August 20, 2020, banned late payment fees during the moratorium, and allows renters facing financial hardship to use their security deposits as payment. (Back in late March, I joined Brooklyn BP Eric Adams and Council Members Powers and Cornegy in calling for exactly this.) We will keep you posted on how to actually pay the rent with a security deposit; the process is still unclear.
- The City has set up a Phone-A-Clinician hotline for those with COVID-19 related medical concerns to receive free tele-medicine consultations. Call (844) NYC-4NYC for more information.
- The Human Services Consortium of East Harlem has shared a COVID-19 resource guide (Google Docs) with information on everything from food and housing to child care and immigrant resources.
Contact tracing is an essential tool for fighting this pandemic. Next Tuesday (5/12) at 6:30 pm, I’ll be moderating a virtual town hall meeting in partnership with Columbia University, “Contact Tracing and Technology: Balancing Public Health and Privacy,” with Congressman Jerrold Nadler. Visit here to learn more and submit questions in advance.
Yesterday I posted contact tracing jobs that both the City and the State are each hiring for: two levels of tracers as well as supervisors. Click here for the City’s listings and here for the State’s postings.
And tonight (5/6) at 5 pm, I’ll be co-sponsoring a Town Hall with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams titled “Contact Tracing: What is it, and what will it mean for New Yorkers?” The town hall will be streamed live for the public on the NYC Public Advocate’s Facebook page.
- Tonight (5/6) at 7 pm, the New York State Council of Churches is hosting a town hall titled: “Provide Ongoing and Universal Income Assistance Paired With True Financial Relief.” Register here.
- Tomorrow (5/7) from 4 – 5 pm, Crain’s New York Business is hosting “How COVID-19 Will Change NYC Real Estate,” a webinar featuring NYC real estate professionals discussing how office space needs are changing as this pandemic continues. Register here.
- Tomorrow (5/7) from 6 – 7 pm, Solar One is hosting the first of two free “Solar for New Yorkers” workshops to teach viewers about solar technology, business models, and how to save money with at-home solar power. (The second workshop will take place on Friday (5/8) from 12 – 1 pm.) Register here.
- Tomorrow, Thursday, (5/7) at 6:30 pm, I’ll be co-hosting with Council Member Brad Lander a virtual town hall on the help and resources available for freelancers, featuring Nicole Salk from Legal Services NYC, Rob Piechota from the US Small Business Administration, and Divya Sundaram from Community Voices Heard. Register here.
- Governor Cuomo announced $30 million in funding for child care scholarships to income-eligible essential workers, which includes health care providers, pharmaceutical staff, law enforcement, firefighters, food delivery workers, and grocery store employees. They must be using a regulated child care provider (see a list of resource and referral agencies here); apply for one of these scholarships. Learn more.
- The City’s COVID-19 Hotel Program provides free hotel stays to eligible New Yorkers who can’t isolate where they live, as well as frontline healthcare workers who hope to reduce the risk of transmission to others at home. Learn more.
- Jobs available! Both the City and State are hiring employees and supervisors for contact tracing: reaching out to the contacts of those diagnosed with COVID-19 to track the spread. Learn more here for the City (three types of contract tracer jobs along with many non-tracing jobs listed), and here for the State (contact tracers, team supervisors, and community support specialists).
- Tomorrow (5/6) at 4 pm is the deadline for representatives of nonprofits to register for “Guidance on Commercial Leases During the Pandemic,” a webinar from New York Lawyers for Public Interest and the Lawyers Alliance for New York. The webinar itself will take place on Thursday (5/7) at 10 am. Register here.
NYC Service is providing one-time funding of up to $10,000 to support nonprofits engaging volunteers to deliver essential services, particularly meals and food, to residents throughout the COVID-19 crisis. View all eligibility and funding details.
Applications are due next Monday (5/11) at 5 pm.
- To address the unprecedented impact of this pandemic, DSS/HRA has issued an emergency rule increasing the burial allowance from $900 to $1,700, and also extended the timeframe for when you can apply to 120 days from the date of the individual‘s death.
- Tomorrow (5/5) at 9:30 am and 1 pm, the NYC Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) will hold the first of two public meetings this week, with testimonies heard from invited owner and tenant groups respectively. The meeting on the preliminary vote will be held on Thursday (5/7). The public is invited to attend the meeting via the RGB’s YouTube channel.
- Tomorrow (5/5) from 4 – 5 pm, Community Board 12 is hosting a town hall in English and Spanish on “What You Need to Know: Commercial Leases, Insurance, and Contracts,” featuring lawyers from Manhattan Legal Services. RSVP here to receive a Zoom link.
- Spectrum has extended their free 60-day internet connection offer for educator and student households through to June 30. Learn more here.
- The Documentary Freelancer Relief Fund is adding a third and final round of applications opening June 10, bringing their total relief funding to $325,000. (Their second round, which appears to be over-subscribed, opens May 6). Previous applications will roll into the next round, so that filmmakers don’t have to apply multiple times. So once you’ve sent in your application, it will continue to be considered throughout. For those who have not yet applied for the relief fund but would still like to do so, further information can be found here.
- The ICA Group has launched the Keep Doors Open Business Resilience Program in partnership with the City’s Department of Small Business Services; the program offers all local businesses who apply free consultations on financing options for employee ownership. Those selected for the program will receive further consulting and training options. Learn more here.
- The NoHo Business Improvement District has released the Get Online Guide, a resource center to help small businesses build out an online presence, get online marketing grants, and more.
- Tomorrow at 9 am, the Downtown Alliance’s Small Business Rental Assistance Grant program opens, awarding $800,000 in cash grants to small businesses in Lower Manhattan on a first-come, first-served basis.
- New Yorkers who receive Supplemental Security Income and have minor dependents can receive an extra $500 per child in addition to the $1,200 Economic Impact Payment (which they should receive automatically). But if you get SSI and have not filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return, you must complete the Non-Filer web form on IRS.gov by May 5 (next Tuesday) to secure your payment.
- The Downtown Alliance is launching a Small Business Rental Assistance Grant program, awarding $800,000 in cash grants to small businesses in Lower Manhattan. Applications are available starting Friday (5/1) at 9 am, on a first-come, first-served basis, until May 15 or until funding has been exhausted. Learn more here.
- Tomorrow (4/30) from 2 – 3:30 pm, join the New York State Division of Human Rights for a Zoom meeting celebrating Fair Housing Month, addressing the fair housing rights for tenants, homebuyers, and persons with disabilities. Register here.
- Tomorrow (4/30) from 7 – 9 pm, join Sen. Brian Kavanagh for a virtual town hall meeting covering housing issues and resources available for small businesses. Register for the event and submit questions in advance here.
- Tonight (4/28) at 6:30 pm, my office, Manhattan Community Board 4 and Housing Conservation Coordinators are hosting a virtual forum, “Tenant Protection & Housing Security during COVID-19 Pandemic.” Register here to get a link to participate in the Zoom meeting or just watch it live on CB4’s YouTube channel at 6:30 pm.
- Tomorrow (4/29) at 6:30 pm, I’ll be moderating a virtual town hall on “Bridging the Digital Divide during COVID-19,” a discussion of potential solutions for the many disparities in technology laid bare by this pandemic. Partners include the Columbia University School of Social Work, BetaNYC, the West Harlem Development Corporation, Silicon Harlem, and Community Board 11. Panelists include Silicon Harlem’s Clayton Banks, Dr. Desmond Patton of the School of Social Work, Nilsa Orama of Community Board 11, and Noel Hidalgo from BetaNYC.
- Tomorrow (4/29) from 11 am – 12:30 pm, the Harlem Community Development Corporation is hosting a free “Using Video in Business Marketing” webinar, guiding participants in properly recording and sharing videos online. Register here.
- On Thursday (4/30) at 9:30 am, the NYC Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) will hold its second public meeting to discuss the 2020 Income & Affordability Study and the 2020 Mortgage Survey Report. Members of the public may livestream the meeting here, or call in at (646) 668-8656 with Meeting ID 967-5796 -0550. A recording of the first RGB meeting on April 23 is available here.
- On Thursday (4/30) from 10:00 – 11:30 am, the Center for an Urban Future (CUF) is hosting a virtual policy symposium on “Ensuring an Inclusive Economic Recovery in New York City.” Register here.
- The NYS Bar Association has launched a new service to connect pro-bono attorneys with New Yorkers having trouble collecting or filing for unemployment benefits. Learn more here.
- A word to the wise: do not even open any emails with the subject line “Stimulus Payment Confirmation.” No one who’s legitimate will be sending you emails to confirm or ask for details on any stimulus payments. Mark them as spam and block the sender.
- The NYC Fund for Public Health is now hiring people with health backgrounds to do COVID-19 contact tracing. Learn more at https://fphnyc.org/about/careers/ under “COVID-19 Jobs.”
- Tomorrow (4/28) at 6:30 pm my office, Manhattan Community Board 4 and Housing Conservation Coordinators are hosting a virtual forum, “Tenant Protection & Housing Security during COVID-19 Pandemic.” Register here to get a link to participate in the Zoom meeting or just watch it live on CB4’s YouTube channel.
- Tomorrow (4/28) at 2 pm, I’ll be joining Small Business Services Commissioner Gregg Bishop and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez for a City & State webinar in their “Small Business Perspective on Coronavirus Pandemic” series. Register here.
- Tonight (4/27) at 6 pm, Congressman Nadler will be hosting a virtual town hall focusing on COVID-19 small business relief, in partnership with the Harlem Small Business Development Center and the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. Submit questions ahead of time by selecting the issue “COVID-19”; questions will also be accepted during the event. Join the town hall here.
- This morning at 10:30 am, the Small Business Administration resumed accepting Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications after an additional $310 billion was allocated by Congress last week. Not long after, their website crashed. With more than one million loan applications pending, demand will likely again outstrip supply, so if you’re a small business owner and have not yet submitted an application, please do so immediately. If you’re a small business owner with less than 15 employees, and haven’t even started, I recommend you email the team at Columbia Law School being coordinated by Professor Tim Wu, at email@example.com, as soon as possible. Official SBA Small Business Development Centers at Pace University, Baruch College, and Columbia University can also answer questions and provide guidance.
- On Tuesday (4/28) at 6:30 pm my office, Manhattan Community Board 4 and Housing Conservation Coordinators are hosting a virtual forum, “Tenant Protection & Housing Security during COVID-19 Pandemic.” Register here to ask questions in the Zoom meeting or watch it live on CB4’s YouTube channel.
- On Wednesday (4/28) at 6:30 pm, I will be moderating a virtual town hall on “Bridging the Digital Divide during COVID-19,” a discussion of potential solutions for the many disparities in technology laid bare by this pandemic. Partners include the Columbia University School of Social Work, BetaNYC, the West Harlem Development Corporation, Silicon Harlem, and Community Board 11. Panelists include Silicon Harlem’s Clayton Banks, Dr. Desmond Patton of the School of Social Work, Nilsa Orama of Community Board 11, and Noel Hidalgo from BetaNYC.
- Tomorrow (4/25) from 1 – 2:30 pm, Tenants and Neighbors is hosting their annual meeting online via Zoom, with the theme “Rallying for Tenants’ Rights and Justice in the Midst of Covid-19.” Register online here, or call in at (929) 436-2866 with Meeting ID: 616-636-6635.
- For those in need of help in the burial of a loved one, the Human Resources Administration (HRA) is providing funeral assistance and payment of expenses for qualifying individuals. Learn more. See the application here (PDF).
- 250 of the jobs for NYCHA residents listed on OpportunityNYCHA.org have yet to be filled. These positions are for temporary per diem workers to assist with general maintenance at NYCHA properties. Per diem income will not have an impact on your rent. Apply here.
- NYCHA residents who’ve lost income should qualify for NYCHA’s rent hardship program and should apply now. Residents can self-certify without submitting any documents and will be given a credit as soon as the request is submitted and reviewed by NYCHA (Residents do not have to wait as they did in the past). Call (718) 707-7771 or learn more here.
- JustFix.nyc has announced Emergency HP Action, a new tool empowering tenants against landlords who are neglecting essential repairs or harassing tenants. Emergency HP Action allows tenants to sue landlords from any device that connects to the internet– saving a trip to Housing Court. Learn more here.
- Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) have announced A Common Thread, a grants program for the American fashion firms who have been impacted by the pandemic. Grants will target designers, small retailers and other members of the fashion community. The second round of applications is now available through May 3. The fund is not limited to former Fashion Fund participants or CFDA members.
- Citi Bike is hosting a webinar tonight (4/22) from 5:30 – 6:30 pm for those interested in applying for their Citi Bike Community Grants; the $5,000 to $25,000 grants are for local nonprofits who will work to increase access to bikeshare in their under-served communities. Find application materials here and register for the webinar here.
- Tonight (4/22) from 6 – 7 pm, Council Member Helen Rosenthal will be hosting her monthly housing clinic online, in partnership with Take Root Justice and Goddard Riverside Law Project. Register here.
- Tomorrow (4/23) from 2:30 – 3:30 pm, NYN Media is hosting a webinar titled “Managing the Impact of COVID-19 on your Nonprofit,” featuring the leaders of Safe Horizon, the Chinese-American Planning Council, New York Foundling, and Mazars USA, who will be discussing their work to mitigate the effects of this crisis. Register here.
- New York State issued additional guidance on Friday (4/17) that allows NON-essential retail establishments (as defined by the Empire State Development Corporation) to fulfill delivery orders placed remotely via phone or online.
Applications open this Thursday (4/23) for unrestricted grants of up to $2500 from the newly formed Maurice Sendak Emergency Relief Fund, administered by the New York Foundation for the Arts. Applications will close once 600 are received, and grants will be made in the order in which applications are received. The Maurice Sendak Foundation has funded the first $100,000, with a goal of raising $250,000.
Applicants must be children’s picture book artists and/or writers who have published at least one picture book in the last five years (or who have a book currently under contract) and must show documented losses of income for the period of 2/1 – 7/30/2020 (including, but not limited to, cancelled freelance projects; teaching, speaking, or consulting assignments; lost temp work; layoffs or furloughs as a result of business closures, etc.). Applications will be reviewed between 4/23 and 5/4, and applicants will be notified by 5/4/2020. Please visit NYFA’s website for more information including a list of application questions and requirements. All questions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Citi Bike has opened applications for their Citi Bike Community Grants for July 2020 – July 2021. The $5,000 to $25,000 grants are for local nonprofits who can help increase access to bikeshare in low-income neighborhoods. There’s a webinar tomorrow (4/22) from 5:30 – 6:30 pm for those interested in applying. Find application materials here and register for the webinar here.
- Tomorrow (4/22) from 10:00 – 11:15 am, the New York Public Library is hosting a webinar titled “Job Search Tips for Mature Job Seekers,” offering tips on building confidence, searching for positions, building a resume, and preparing for interviews. Register here.
- Tomorrow (4/22) from 6:00 – 7:00 pm, Council Member Helen Rosenthal will be hosting her Monthly Housing Clinic online, in partnership with Take Root Justice and Goddard Riverside Law Project. Register here.
- New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) has launched the NY COVID-19 Legal Resource Hotline to help New Yorkers impacted by COVID-19 get answers to essential legal questions. Reach the hotline and leave a message at (929) 356-9582, Monday-Friday from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm. When leaving a message, include your name, the best number to call you back at, and a description of the legal question or issue.
- Community nonprofit The Pillars is partnering with luxury bridal lifestyle brand Signature Bride and WedWeb Mobile to find medical staff (nurses, doctors, aides) who have had to cancel or postpone their wedding in response to the pandemic. One lucky couple could win a virtual wedding and honeymoon package worth $10,000 – register to win at their website, and email email@example.com for more information.
- This Wednesday (4/22), I am hosting a virtual Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) Town Hall at 3:00 pm. I’ll be moderating an hour-long panel on the importance of SYEP and efforts to save it, featuring the Children’s Aid Society’s Sandino Sanchez, Catholic Charities’ Eddie Silverio, the Harlem Boys and Girls’ Club’s Dominique Jones, the Chinese-American Planning Council’s Wayne Ho, and the United Neighborhood Houses’ J.T. Falcone. Register here to get a Zoom log-in link.
- The Manhattan District Attorney has opened a hotline for reporting scams related to COVID-19. If you have been the victim of such a scam, or know someone who has, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (212) 335-8900, or message (347) 463-2198 on WhatsApp.
- The New York Attorney General has issued guidance to make sure stimulus payment checks remain off limits to banks, creditors and debt collectors; those violating this order will face swift legal action.
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation opened applications for their $5,000 Save Small Business grants for businesses (employing 3-20 people) that have been harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Legal Services NYC has opened a hotline to help New Yorkers apply for public benefits like SNAP and Medicaid, as well as manage rent and utilities arrears. Call (917) 661-4500 for a free, confidential assessment.
NMIC Legal Services has established temporary COVID-19 intake hotlines for all New Yorkers — but prioritizing residents in Upper Manhattan and Southwest Bronx — to receive assistance on a variety of issues:
Accessing benefits: (919) 512-4469, Monday/Wednesday/Friday from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Unemployment: (929) 512-4476, Tuesday/Thursday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Housing: (929) 512-4565, Wednesdays from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm.
Immigration: (929) 512-4496, Mondays from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm.
- Also tomorrow (4/18) at 4:00 pm, the financial education nonprofit World of Money will present an interactive virtual Town Hall for children ages 9-12 titled “COVID-19 Global Pandemic and the Road Ahead: Our Concerns, The Challenges, The Opportunities.” RSVP here.
The IRS has begun transferring so-called “Economic Impact Payments” to taxpayer bank accounts (for those who have their accounts on file) or sending out physical checks. Use this webpage to start the process of determining if you are eligible to receive any of that funding.
For security reasons, the IRS plans to mail a letter about the economic impact payment to the taxpayer’s last known address within 15 days after the payment is made. The letter will provide information on how the payment was made and how to report any failure to receive the payment. If a taxpayer is unsure they’re receiving a legitimate letter, the IRS urges taxpayers to visit IRS.gov first to protect against scam artists.
Speaking of scams, the Wall Street Journal published “Don’t Click! Coronavirus Text and Phone Scams Are Designed to Trick You” with a useful reminder that now is a time when scammers on your phone can seem more legitimate. Columnist Nicole Nguyen wrote:
“A text comes in on your phone. It’s from the IRS, and your economic relief check is ready, pending your acceptance. There’s a form to fill out. All you have to do is click the link.
“If you don’t have time to read this whole column, please—for the love of sweatpants—just read this: Don’t. Click. The. Link.
“… Circulating schemes involve stimulus checks, airline refunds, charities, fines for breaking social-distancing rules, ‘mandatory’ Covid-19 preparedness tests, unproven treatments and sales of in-demand supplies like masks or thermometers. Experts say the scams are designed to get you to take immediate action, more and more through texts and calls…”
The NYC Bar Association’s City Bar Justice Center offers legal resources to help New Yorkers during the pandemic:
Their CBJC Legal Hotline at (212) 626-7383 is staffed by attorneys who offer free advice to low-income callers on a range of civil– not criminal– legal issues in English and Spanish (other languages available by using interpreter services).
Their COVID-19 Small Business Remote Legal Clinic connects volunteer lawyers with small businesses in need of help accessing relief and stimulus resources.
They’re providing free life-planning help— wills and powers of attorney– to front-line healthcare workers.
Their Legal Referral Service also remains open: (212) 626-7373 for English, (212) 626-7374 for Spanish, or submit a request online. If you are referred, the initial virtual or phone consultation will be $35 or free, depending on the type of case, and will last for up to 30 minutes.
- Regular readers of this newsletter know I advised Governor Cuomo (see my letter here) against holding meetings of the NYC Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) since having them online limits participation from those with less technology access or savvy. Nonetheless, an RGB meeting will be held next Thursday (4/23) at 9:30 am. The initial schedule of meetings has been posted here, with information on how to join them by phone or video conferencing.
- The nonprofit news site The City has released a guide to navigating unemployment benefits, with explainers on eligibility for federal aid, tips for part time and freelance workers, as well as instructions on how to obtain state unemployment benefits.
- Volunteers of Legal Service (originally formed in response to the 2008 financial crisis) has relaunched their Unemployed Workers Project, offering free legal advice for low-wage unemployed workers seeking to access their government benefits. Call their hotline at (347) 521-5720 or fill out their online intake form.
- Submissions are now open for the 2020 Arts Writers Grant Program, which supports both emerging and established writers whose work discusses contemporary visual art with grants ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 awarded in three categories: articles, books, and short-form writing.
- Last night I moderated a virtual Town Hall in partnership with the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center, the NYC Dept. of Small Business Services (SBS), the NYC Hospitality Alliance, the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce on “Small Business Relief during COVID-19.” For those of you unable to join us, the recorded video session is now available on YouTube.
- On Thursday (4/16) at 11:30 am, the NoHo Business Improvement District and SoHo Broadway Initiative are hosting Coping with COVID-19: A Conversation for Small Businesses. Panelists include Andrew Flamm from the Pace Small Business Development Center, tenant attorney Samuel J. Himmelstein, and accountant William Skody. Click on the link above at 11:30 am Thursday to participate.
Last week, I shared the Managed Care Consumer Assistance Program helpline (888-614-5400) from the Community Service Society (CSS), but that was only one of many advisory helplines available from CSS:
For help enrolling in health insurance, contact their Navigator Network at 888-614-5401 or email@example.com.
For help understanding and using your existing health insurance, contact their Community Health Advocates at 888-614-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For help with long-term care or behavioral health services through a managed care plan, contact their Independent Consumer Advocacy Network at 888-614-8000 or email@example.com.
For guidance on student loans, contact their Education Debt Consumer Assistance Program at 888-614-5004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For money management and financial tips, contact their Financial Coaching Corps at email@example.com.
For help correcting rap sheets, contact their Next Door Project at 212-614-5441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New York Public Library (NYPL) continues to offer online resources:
Their NYC Small Business Resource Center is offering information and resources to help small businesses.
NYPL’s Community Support Resources page provides information on housing, health, and food security, among other community needs.
- If you own a small NYC-based business (15 or fewer employees) and are struggling to apply for the payroll protection program (PPP) or the disaster emergency relief loans provided by the federal government, Professor Tim Wu and a group of Columbia law students are providing free help and information about the process. Email email@example.com.
- For-hire vehicle and taxi drivers who are self-employed or work as independent contractors are eligible for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from the Small Business Administration. For drivers, the PPP loan funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. If the funds are used for these purposes—and at least 75% goes towards income—then the loan will be forgiven.
- As hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers apply for unemployment, Governor Cuomo has provided the State Dept. of Labor (DOL) with necessary reinforcements: a revamped website, 300 new phone reps, and a new procedure. Applicants can now process claims entirely online– if a phone call is needed, the DOL will call the applicant. (If you receive a call that says “Caller ID Blocked” — answer the phone! It’s probably DOL calling.) So please be patient– but persistent– about applying online at labor.ny.gov/unemploymentassistance.shtm.
- The Actors’ Fund has released a round-up of resources available to artists, bartenders, and freelance creatives and shared similar lists made by the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Freelance Artist Resource Producing Collective.
- With hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers suddenly thrown out of work, many– most?– are applying for unemployment insurance, often for the very first time. Unfortunately, they’ve been met with a State Dept. of Labor (DOL) website that was a little… rusty.The Governor announced in today’s briefing that tonight, they are installing a new DOL unemployment website and a new application form that promises to be easier to fill out and eliminate the need for applicants to call in themselves to complete the process. Instead, if a phone call is needed, the DOL will call the applicant. (The call centers, too, have been overwhelmed– but they’ve hired 300 more phone reps.)Applying for unemployment means money in your pocket if you’re out of work– and even if you are a freelance or gig-economy worker (i.e., earn 1099 income) you could qualify. What’s more, the Federal CARES Act is supplementing all states’ unemployment benefits, increasing checks by $600 per WEEK. And this week, the State extended benefits by 13 weeks– from 26 to 39 weeks in total.The State had received 810,000 unemployment claims since March 9th– 350,000 claims in just the last week. Of those claims, 600,000 have been processed, but approximately 200,000 are still in limbo.So please be patient– but persistent– about applying online at labor.ny.gov/unemploymentassistance.shtm after tonight’s website revamp.
- The Community Service Society has established the Managed Care Consumer Assistance Program (MCCAP), a free health coverage helpline assisting people with how to manage the health care bureaucracy, including applying for hospital financial assistance, resolving billing issues, or appealing coverage denials. Reach MCCAP at (888) 614-5400, Monday-Friday, 9 am – 4 pm.
- The Robin Hood Foundation has announced they will be providing immediate response grants to 501(c)(3) organizations, averaging $45,ooo in funding for the first three months.
- The New York Community Trust has created the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund, providing both grants and loans to nonprofits struggling with the health and economic effects of the coronavirus.
- I’m calling on Governor Cuomo to extend rent relief to tenants and support legislation to establish a rental assistance voucher program administered by NYS Homes and Community Renewal. The program would directly pay landlords the amount of rent that tenants cannot afford due to financial impact from COVID-19. Read my letter here.
- The State Dept. of Labor is announcing claims are now extended by 13 additional weeks, from 26 to 39 weeks. Claims will be back-dated to the date the filer became unemployed. Claims ARE being processed, but patience– and persistence– is key. New York is among the first states to include the additional $600 in unemployment payments, as provided by the federal CARES Act.
- Goya is launching the Goya Culinary Competition for Scholarships for NYC high schoolers. Submit a recipe using Goya products for a chance to win $10,000 in scholarships. Interested? Visit Food and Finance High School’s website.
- The State Dept. of Labor is working to improve response times (and their infrastructure) for unemployment insurance, and has hired 300 more operators, expanded service from six to seven days a week, and Google has been hired to enhance intake capability. Meanwhile, in an effort to manage the influx, applicants are now asked to call based on the first letter of their last names, as follows:
- Monday, names starting with A – F.
- Tuesday, names beginning G – N.
- Wednesday, last names with initials O – Z.
If you miss your day, you can also file on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Any claim filed will be back-dated to the date the filer became unemployed, NOT the date of filing. If you are eligible, you will be paid for all benefits due. If you are instructed to call to complete your claim, the ONLY valid number is 1-888-209-8124.
- Brooklyn Council Member Brad Lander has prepared a page with information on relief for freelancers, artists, and gig-workers— who lack many basic worker protections or access to a robust social safety net– that many will find useful.
- The Times yesterday recapped the pandemic policies of all the major airlines, with nearly all offering credits for future flights. But it also clearly states U.S. Dept. of Transportation refund policy: “…passengers are entitled to a refund if the airline makes a significant schedule change….” Experts quoted in the piece advise those with tickets to wait until a few days out from your flight to see if a cancellation triggers a refund.
- On Friday, Vox published 9 questions about how to get the coronavirus stimulus funds, answered.
- The City launched the Help Now Portal this week to connect New Yorkers who need help to resources on employment, benefits, seniors, food security, NYCHA residents, mental health, and education– and to also give those who want to GIVE help a way to do so.
- Charter/Spectrum cable (which has a large footprint in Manhattan) is expanding the eligibility for its 60-day free offer for internet and wifi to include educators (K-12 teachers and college/university professors) who do not already have a Spectrum account. Contact Spectrum at 1-844-488-8395 to sign up (but prepare for a wait!). A free self-installation kit will be provided to new student and educator households.
- Tomorrow is April 1st, and many people and businesses have rent due. The NY Times published “What if I Can’t Pay My Rent Now?” and many may find it helpful. Bottom line? You can’t be evicted for nonpayment of rent during the next 90 days.The Wall Street Journal (online Sunday [paywalled], in print editions Monday) called this “America’s Make-or-Break Week.” With so many New Yorkers and businesses facing financial pressures from the coronavirus, the rent and utility and credit card bills looming on April 1 present a dilemma for many. With that in mind, I thought it might be useful to compile some updates on the suspensions made and deferrals available for some of those bills:-Con Edison has temporarily suspended service shutoffs for customers having payment difficulties (those relating to safety concerns will still take place); National Grid has “suspended collections-related activities, including service disconnections,” until the end of April.
-The NYS Attorney General, Tish James, announced her office will suspend medical and student loan debt collection until at least April 16– with a potential extension then.
-Cable and internet providers like Verizon and Spectrum are providing free internet for households with school-age children, as well as, in Verizon’s case, offering free access to learning tools and a few premium TV channels for 60 days.
-Some credit card issuers are offering a break, offering opportunities to request deferred payments or rescinding late fees. To see information for your bank(s), Credit Karma offers a useful roundup of the measures taken by the largest firms.
-If you are paying a mortgage, you may be eligible for a postponement of collection through April 20 if you have experienced financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, under an executive order made by Governor Cuomo.
-NYCHA encourages households experiencing a partial loss of income to access their rent hardship program by completing an Interim Recertification via the NYCHA Self-Service Portal or by calling their Property Management Office to request a paper form be mailed. If your household experiences a complete loss of income, you may qualify for NYCHA’s Zero Income Policy; call the property management office to set up the required eligibility interview.
- The East Harlem Community Partnership Higher Education Grants will award ten $1,000 grants to cover tuition, housing, books, or any education related expense for students starting the freshman year of college or attending a technical school. For an application, contact Angela Donadelle at firstname.lastname@example.org and return it completed with attachments by June 8, 2012.
- Verizon is matching Spectrum and other cable providers’ offer for free internet for households with school-age children (which was, ahem, strongly suggested by the FCC). They are also going one better, with other learning tools and some premium TV channels offered to customers at no additional cost. Read the release: verizon.com/about/news/verizon-customers-learning-tools-premium-tv.
- Con Ed has halted all meter reading and installation of smart meters; stopped shutoffs of electric, natural gas or steam service due to non-payment resulting from the health crisis; waived new late-payment charges; and suspended the fee charged to a customer who is unable to grant access to their property. They WILL continue to shut off service when there is a safety issue. As you can imagine, customer service walk-in centers are shut. Residential customers can choose one of the alternate ways to pay their bill, including online at My Account, by mail with a check or money order, or by phone at 1-888-925-5016.
- The nonprofit expensify.org will reimburse SNAP participants $50 after they use their EBT card for approved purchases and submit a receipt. They are allocating these funds to help families in need purchase essential groceries during the COVID-19 outbreak. There’s no “catch” and the money is directly deposited into the participant’s bank account. If anyone’s interested in this assistance, visit Expensify.org/hunger for more information.
- The Trump administration has moved Tax Day to July 15, 2020.
- Governor Cuomo and Attorney General James announced that the state will temporarily halt the collection of medical and student debt owed to the State of New York and referred to the Office of the Attorney General for collection for at least a 30-day period in response spread of COVID-19. Apparently they have also created an application for suspension of debt collection activity here.
- Our mentions in previous newsletters of evictions being suspended brought word of a city marshal posting an eviction notice for a tenant in upper Manhattan. We heard from the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge of Civil Court who confirmed that all evictions are suspended, although landlords are still being permitted to file cases since certain statutes of limitation have not been suspended yet by the Governor. He also said marshals are not supposed to be carrying out any evictions, and he agreed to look into the case.
- NYCHA encourages households experiencing a loss of income to access our rent hardship program. You may qualify for a rent reduction if all the following conditions are met:
• There is at least a 5% reduction to gross income;
• Current rent is more than 30% of the net household income; and
• Reduction in income has lasted at least two months.
Residents can request a rent reduction by completing an Interim Recertification via the NYCHA Self-Service Portal or by calling their Property Management Office to request a paper form be mailed to your home.If your household experiences a complete loss of income, you may qualify for NYCHA’s Zero Income Policy; please call your property management office to participate in the required eligibility interview.As a reminder, public housing residents have eight ways to pay rent, including via mail, MyNYCHA, online, at an authorized bank or credit union, by phone, and more. Visit on.nyc.gov/payrent to learn more.If you have any NYCHA questions or concerns, please call 718-707-7771.
- Fines totalling $275,000 have been assessed on stores since March 5th by the city’s Dept. of Consumer and Worker Protection on stores that have price gouged on these essential coronavirus-related products:
Zinc oxide supplements
Price gouging is defined as charging more than 10% of the pre-crisis price; fines are $500 per service item. You can file a complaint online at nyc.gov/dcwp.
- Most mobile carriers and ISPs are relaxing data caps and overage policies as the pandemic– and the need for internet connectivity– deepens. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Comcast, and Verizon are waiving overages and data caps after the FCC issued its “Keep Americans Connected Pledge.” Under this agreement, carriers have agreed to…
- Not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;
- Waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and
- Open Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.
- The Hebrew Free Loan Society Coronavirus Financial Impact Loan Program provides interest-free loans of $2,000-$5,000 to residents of New York City’s five boroughs, Westchester, or Long Island who are facing financial challenges caused by the Coronavirus outbreak. All low- or moderate-income New Yorkers are eligible, regardless of credit history. Loans require one guarantor. For more information or an application, visit