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COVID Newsletters

Manhattan weekly newsletter (6/1)


Below is a round-up of events and announcements for Manhattan this week. Check your inbox Thursday for more COVID public health updates. (If you’re not yet subscribed, sign up here.)



Last week, as part of Asian American Heritage Month and amid increasing reports of crimes targeting the Asian American community, I launched the “Stop AAPI Hate” PSA contest with the Asian American Federation.

A panel of judges will select three submissions of videos or graphics that aim to educate and call for justice for victims and survivors of hate crimes against Asian Americans. The winners of the top three submissions will be featured on the F.Y.Eye network, a nonprofit advertising group that disseminates PSAs on over 100 screens at high-traffic nonprofit locations throughout New York, and will be invited to a meal at a Manhattan Chinatown restaurant with Asian American Federation Executive Director Jo-Ann Yoo and me. 

Entries and links to entries may be submitted in English and multiple languages to by 5 pm on Monday, 6/21.

Reminder: Tonight (6/1) at 6 pm, I’m co-sponsoring a virtual ranked choice voting town hall with Council Member Keith Powers and the NYC Campaign Finance Board. Register here.

The New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program application opened TODAY. Apply ASAP here or call the helpline at 844-691-7368. 

The program will pay up to 15 months of rent and up to 12 months of electric or gas utilities. Applicants must meet all eligibility criteria:

  • Household gross income is at or below 80% of the Area Median Income. (In Manhattan, 80% of AMI for a family of four is $95,450.) 
  • On or after March 13, 2020, a member of the household received unemployment benefits, experienced a reduction in income, incurred significant costs, or experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic.
  • Applicant is behind on rent owed on or after March 13, 2020.
  • The household must be at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, which can be demonstrated by having rental debt owed on or after March 13, 2020.

There are no immigration status requirements to qualify for the program.

Anyone eligible should apply ASAP, but during the first 30 days of the program, NYS is prioritizing households with income at or below 50% of AMI ($59,650 for a family of four in Manhattan) and at least one household member within the following categories:

  • unemployed for at least 90 days since March 13, 2020
  • veteran
  • experiencing domestic violence or is a survivor of human trafficking
  • has an eviction case pending in court
  • lives in a community that was disproportionately impacted by COVID-19
  • lives in a building with 20 or fewer units
  • resides in a mobile home

 After the initial 30-day period, applications will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. Funds are limited, so all eligible households should apply as soon as possible regardless of whether they’re in a priority group.

Households approved for ERAP may receive:

  • Up to 12 months of rental arrears payments for rents accrued on or after March 13, 2020.
  • Up to 3 months of additional rental assistance if the household is expected to spend 30 percent or more of their gross monthly income to pay for rent.
  • Up to 12 months of electric or gas utility arrears payments for arrears that have accrued on or after March 13, 2020.

Payments will be made directly to the landlord/property owner and utility company on behalf of the tenant. Payments issued under ERAP do not need to be paid back.

Monday (6/7) at 6:30 pm, join a virtual info session about the rental assistance program, hosted by the Met Council on Housing. Register here.

The Governor has launched a new round of the Regional Economic Development Council funding. $750 million is available for organizations– applications are due Friday, 7/30.

Win a $50 gift card by supporting a local small business during the NYC Dept. of Small Business Service’s “Shop your City Challenge.” Take a photo of yourself shopping at a local business and upload it here for a chance to win.

There are now elevators at the 57th St.-7th Ave. N-Q-R-W station. The elevators are on the northeast corner of 55th St. and 7th Ave.



Applications are open through 6/14 for the June edition of the Welcome to Chinatown Longevity Fund. Chinatown small businesses can apply for funds for business recovery (utilities, rent, insurance, labor/wages) or business improvement (marketing, physical space improvements, operations, etc.). Apply here.

Donate books for the Open Street at E. 101st St. and Lexington Ave. Drop off books at the Open Street, Mojo Desserts (177 E. 100th), or the Lexington Pizza Parlour (1590 Lexington Ave.). Children’s books are especially needed.

StoryCorps and NYC Votes are looking to record New Yorkers’ stories about their reasons for voting. Interviews will be archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and may be featured on NYC Votes’ social media accounts. Register here.

Registration is now open for the free Wednesday, 6/9 virtual conference “Emerging with Strength: Fundraising Skills to Thrive in Today’s (Virtual) World,” geared toward community-based organizations and hosted by NewYork-Presbyterian’s CHALK Capacity Building Initiative. Click the title to register.



Tuesdays at 7 pm, learn Harlem’s signature dance, the Lindy Hop, during classes with the Harlem Swing Dance Society at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Community Center (34 W 134th St.). Students up to 17 years old dance for free. To register, email

Weekdays through Friday, 6/25 from 7-8 am, free hot breakfast is available for kids at Harlem restaurant Fieldtrip (109 Malcolm X Blvd). Reserve breakfasts three days before pick-up.

This week, Black Northern Manhattanites are invited to participate in focus groups about mental health hosted by Black Health and the New York Public Library. Participants will receive a $50 Visa gift card and lunch or dinner. The sessions are:

  • 6/2 at 11:30 am – for senior citizens (in English) at 215 W. 125th St., 2nd Floor (register here)
  • 6/2 at 4 pm – for high schoolers (in Spanish) at 175 E. 104th St. (register here)
  • 6/3 at 11:30 am – for senior citizens (in Spanish) at 483 E. Tremont Ave., Bronx (register here)
  • 6/3 at 4 pm – for high schoolers (in English) at 175 E. 104th St. (register here)
  • 6/4 at 5:30 pm – for young adults (in English) at 175 E. 104th St. (register here)

Thursday (6/3) from 11 am – 4 pm, the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau hosts a community resource fair, featuring education, employment, financial, and health resources at Central Park-110th St. and Lenox Ave.

Thursday (6/3) at 6 pm, join a ranked choice voting training session to understand the upcoming primary election ballot, hosted by Council Speaker Corey Johnson and NYC Votes. Register here.

Friday (6/4) at 9 am, join virtual symposium “Greening Public Art,” hosted by the Madison Square Park Conservancy and featuring nature-based solutions to climate change and speakers like artist Maya Lin. Click the title to register.

Friday (6/4) from 10 am – 3 pm, Union Settlement and GrowNYC host a free food distribution at the community garden at 237 E. 104th St.

Friday-Sunday (6/4-6), virtual conference “Masculine Identified Lesbians of Color Living in the 21st Century” features sessions on entrepreneurship, employment, and relationships, hosted by the Masculine Identified Lesbians of Color Collective and HarlemYES. Click the title to register.

Saturday (6/5), Hike the Heights hosts its 17th annual community hike day. Hike anywhere with family and friends, join Hike the Heights at Giraffe Path in Northern Manhattan, or join a group on the East Harlem walking trail (meet at the star on this map at 10 am).

Saturday (6/5) at 10 am, current 6th graders are invited to a virtual open house for Hunter College High School. 7th grade admissions applications close Thursday, 6/17, and the entrance exam is Thursday, 6/23. Click the link above to register.

Saturday (6/5) from 10 am – 5 pm, drop off your old electronics at Manhattan Plaza (W. 43rd btwn 9th and 10th Aves.) during a “Recycle Your E-Waste” event hosted by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and the Lower East Side Ecology Center.

Saturday (6/5) from 11 am – 5 pm, paint a community mural or join a clean-up with Uptown Grand Central’s Grandscale Mural Project. Meet at 125th St. and Lexington Ave. Register here.

Saturday (6/5) from noon – 4 pm, high schoolers are invited to a historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) fair at the NYPD 28th Precinct (2271 8th Ave. between 122nd and 123rd Sts.).

Saturday (6/5) at 3 pm, families are invited to musical performances of “The Princess and the Pea” and “Cinderella” by the New York Scandia Symphony in Bennett Park on Fort Washington Ave. at 184th St. Then Sunday (6/6), the symphony continues the 2021 Scandinavian Music Festival on the Billings Lawn of Fort Tryon Park.

Next Tuesday (6/8) at 2 pm, join a Zoom with personal finance expert Suze Orman, “Protecting Your Money: Tips to Ensure a Financially Safe & Secure Life,” hosted by senior nonprofit Search and Care. Click the title to register.