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COVID Newsletters

Weekly COVID newsletter (3/31)

Friends,

It’s Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

At press time, the Johns Hopkins COVID case tracker currently shows New York City has 39,968 active cases and 914 deaths (those numbers include the 2,000+ more cases and 17 deaths that were added this afternoon since we started compiling this newsletter at 2 pm).

Last night’s “virtual” Town Hall at Columbia University’s Teachers College, cosponsored by the NYC Dept of Education and Community Board 9, was a huge success– special thanks to the office of the Manhattan Executive Superintendant for their participation.  Over 300 parents, teachers and administrators logged onto the youtube broadcast and sent qustions in. You can watch it here. ADD LINK  We’re planning another one for small businesses in cooperation with Columbia’s business school, and will keep you posted.

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.

Tomorrow is also Census Day, and you can complete your census form online at https://my2020census.gov/. Online completion has been open for a while now, and as of last night, the City’s completion rate is 24.8% and Manhattan is over-performing at 27% completed (Staten Island is beating us, though, at 28.8%)  The Census Bureau is posting real-time results at censushardtocountmaps2020.us/  Check for yourself!

This Friday, April 3, 2020, at 3 pm, my office will join with the Arts and Culture Committee of The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, the Harlem Arts Alliance, and the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance to convene a special teleconference for locally-based arts and culture organizations, independent artists, galleries, and venues to discuss managing the impact of Covid-19. The Friday teleconference will be held via ZOOM on Friday, April 3, 2020 at 3pm. Here is more detail on the call and call-in directions. (Please call in a little early!)

If you’re unable to go out and get food for yourself, AND you do not have someone else in your household who can get food for you, AND do not have a family member, friend, or neighbor who lives nearby who can get food for you, AND do not receive food from Meals on Wheels, God’s Love We Deliver or a similar service, AND are not able to afford food delivery from a restaurant or grocery…  the GetFoodNYC food delivery program has been set up by the City for those in your situation.  Here’s the fine print:
-There is a maximum number of three boxes per household, per delivery…
-The amount of food delivered is based on the number of people in your household who need food from this service…
-Each person who needs food will be given one box, which is designed to last two days.
-Orders placed after 5 pm will not be delivered the next day, but will be delivered the day after…
GetFoodNYC will collect information about any dietary restrictions but cannot guarantee those requests can be met. Sign up by calling 311 or online at    https://cv19engagementportal.cityofnewyork.us/#/display/5e7555117ad6750216160409

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is canceling its April 7, 2020 public hearing as they explore options for virtual hearings. They continue to accept and review applications via e-filing; learn how here (PDF).

Alternate side of the street parking rules have been suspended for TWO weeks, until April 14. And the ULURP suspension has been extended for another five days. The Department of City Planning will let us know what the new deadlines will be when the ULURP clock resumes eventually.

The Cooper Station Post Office on Fourth Ave. downtown has been hit with reductions in staff (we assume due to COVID) so mail will be delivered every 2-3 days until further notice. If a store or business or office is closed, mail will have to be picked up in person.

Service Program for Older People is providing behavioral health care for older adults via approved tele-health connection during the COVID-19 outbreak including psychotherapeutic and psychiatric services for adults age 55 and older, rehabilitation support for adults with serious mental illness (age 55 and older) and peer-led bereavement support groups for adults of all ages for a modest fee. For more information, call 212-787-7120 x514 or visit www.spop.org.

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 adonadelle@unionsettlement.org and return it completed with attachments by June 8, 2012.

Monday’s FreshDirect Five Borough Food Drive dropoff was at Dyckman Houses and this week we were able to deliver to residents in four buildings instead of three. The Children’s Art & Science Workshops and Hanan Ali-Bilali in particular helped the residents unload the boxes. (Each weekday FreshDirect and their partners, BoarsHead and Poland Spring, are dopping off 10-lb boxes of food at NYCHA locations which my office helps coordinate with their tenants’ associations.) It’s great that these companies have stepped up to provide food to families in need.

The New York Blood Center has three locations open for blood donors:
Port Authority Midtown Donor Center 625 8th Ave. @ W 41st St., South Wing
Grand Central Donor Center 200 Park Ave., Lobby Level
Upper East Side Donor Center 310 East 67th St.

Correction: “Just” Sam is actually a resident of Douglass Houses on the Upper West Side (not Amsterdam Houses). She made the final 20 of American Idol, but the show is shutting down temporarily after this Sunday (4/5).

I hope you’re finding these newsletters helpful. Please forward them to whoever you know who would find them helpful.  And keep sending me useful links!  Feel free to call me with any urgent problems or concerns: (212) 669-8191.