These are difficult times.
Coping with the unknown is never easy, but with the risk of serious illness or death for those who catch the COVID-19 virus, the stakes are high.
Perhaps the most important thing to understand is that we’re all in this together, dealing with situations that none of us — in government, business or our private lives — have ever faced before. A little kindness and patience will go a long way!
We are doing our best to keep Manhattan informed, and this email will be sent daily as we have new information. Please forward to your friends or have them sign up to receive it themselves.
Here’s what I hope is USEFUL information:
— As you must know by now, public schools are closed until April 20. As of today, students may go to the NEAREST school — which is not necessarily their own school — to pick up a grab-n-go breakfast and/or lunch between 7:30 am and 1:00 pm for at least this week. The Food Education Fund has established a website to gather all food-related information in one place, which will be continuously updated: Food Hub NYC
–Beginning today, Monday, March 16, Charter cable will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription, and installation fees will be waived for new student households. For eligible low-income households without school-aged children, Charter continues to offer “Spectrum Internet Assist,” a low-cost broadband program delivering speeds of 30 Mbps. They are also opening its Wi-Fi hotspots across their service area for public use. To enroll in the free broadband service or Internet Assist, call 1-844-488-8395. (It’s their standard customer service line, so use the “new service” or “add service” option. To avoid long wait times, call early in the morning or later in the evening, until 1:00 am EDT)
— 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
— Evictions are also suspended indefinitely. Housing Court will also be closed indefinitely, except for emergency cases (such as illegal lock-out, post eviction, emergency repair cases). People with emergencies should call the court, or the Housing Court Answers hotline: (212) 962-4795. NYCHA hearings are also cancelled. Tenants will receive a postcard with a new date to go to court. The nonprofit Housing Court Answers operates a hotline that will still be open Monday though Friday 9am to 5pm. Any folks with questions about court or evictions can call (212) 962-4795 for more information. Visit their website for new information: hcanswers.org.
— We’re told that Apple has also made contributions of devices to the 1 Million Foundation, and that the DOE is working on a plan to distribute these devices to as many students as possible. More information will follow.
— We’re told that the Mayor will sign an executive order sometime tomorrow (Tuesday) that will suspend all land use time clocks for the City Planning and LPC public review processes. The Governor has suspended the open meetings law, so the Planning Commission can meet by teleconference, which they will do tomorrow to vote on a project on 96th St. and the Union Square South Hotel Special Permit. The meeting will be live-streamed and recorded so the public will have access.
For RELIABLE health information, visit
- The City’s Department of Health: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/index
- The State Dept of Health: https://www.health.ny.gov/
- The Federal Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/
Finally, here’s some housekeeping information for my office: We are closed, physically, along with many other city electeds (Public Advocate, Comptroller). Most employees are working remotely, and our phone lines are up and running: downtown at (212) 669-8300 and at my Northern Manhattan Office, (212) 531-1609.
All 12 Manhattan Community Board offices are closed and meetings postponed/cancelled; visit each Board’s website for further information. Technological solutions are being worked out to allow Boards and their committees to conduct business virtually.
We had three events scheduled for March which we have cancelled or postponed:
- A rally on the steps of City Hall March 19 to demand funding for 1 social worker per school.
- The annual “State of the Borough” event on March 29.
- An evening with Rachael Cerrotti on her grandmother’s journey through the Holocaust (and an accompanying professional development program for educators) in late March.
I will keep you posted with any new developments and I hope useful information!