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COVID Newsletters

Weekly newsletter (6/24)


Governor Cuomo lifted the state of emergency today, after 15 months. NYC’s seven-day positivity average is 0.53% (down from 0.57% last week), and I’ll continue to update the list of vaccine sites, vaccination perks, and vaccine appointment resources on my website. Those interested in the statistics can check the data at the NYC Dept. of Health website or’s COVID tracker.

The Delta variant is now the most worrisome COVID factor. Cases of the Delta variant are now doubling every two weeks; experts say it is 60% more transmissible than last year’s main “Alpha” variant, and evidence from the U.K. suggests it doubles the risk of hospitalization. As such, the Delta variant poses a very dangerous threat to the unvaccinated– who are centered geographically in the South and parts of the Midwest and demographically among younger Americans ages 18-29.

One piece of major vaccine news is that in-home vaccination is now available for all New Yorkers. Visit or call 877-829-4692 to request an in-home appointment.


New York State’s $2 billion Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) opened June 1, 2021 to help low- and middle-income New Yorkers who have struggled to make rent or utility payments during the pandemic.

New Yorkers must earn less than 80% of the “area median income” ($95,450 for a family of four), and through next Wednesday (6/30), applicants earning less than 50% ($59,650 for a family of four) will be prioritized.

Those who are approved for ERAP could receive relief for up to 12 months of rental arrears dating from March 13, 2020– and get help covering missed payments for gas or electric utilities (some may even be eligible for three future monthly rent payments).

Unlike last year’s program– which was so complex to qualify for that many applicants gave up– ERAP has enlisted community organizations to assist applicants and landlords. In Manhattan, two groups are the first stepping up to assist (many more will follow and I’ll update the list below):

Catholic Charities Community Services (click to view website)
Help line: 888-744-7900

University Settlement (click to view website)
Help line (as of 7/1): 332-233-7440

Applicants can also call the State hotline at 844-691-7368 for application assistance.

Like many online processes, it can be tricky to apply. Some people report that clearing their browser’s cache helps the application form to work. Once the application is started, all questions must be answered and the application signed and saved to submit the application. (There currently is no way to save a partially completed application).

Before you apply, you’ll need to collect all kinds of documents, including personal IDs for all household members; proof of your rent and occupancy; and proof of income. If you’re applying for utility help, you’ll need copies of those bills, too. Review the list of the needed documents here.

Approved payments will be made directly to the landlord/property owner on behalf of the tenant; tenants will be notified of the amounts paid on their behalf.

Start the ERAP application process here.

If you have questions, contact my Northern Manhattan Office at 212-531-1609.

As soon as July 15, families with children will get monthly direct deposit payments or physical checks from the IRS for the expanded child tax credit

  • Up to $250 per child ages 6-17 or

  • $300 per child under 6

…thanks to the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress in March 2021. The families of 90% of kids in America will now receive this tax credit (estimated to cut child poverty by 40%).

The tax credit gives up to $3,600 per child annually for couples making up to $150,000 and single parents making up to $112,500. The payments will end this December; you can claim six months of back payments (January – June 2021) when you file your 2021 income tax return next year. If you filed a tax return last year, you’ll get the money automatically. If you don’t think the IRS has your contact information because you didn’t file a 2020 tax return, you can sign up for the payments here.

Look for a letter in the mail from the IRS in the next few weeks that explains how much you’ll receive each month.

Free “grab and go” breakfast and lunch in this year’s “Summer Meals” program will be available to all New Yorkers at about 400 sites this summer beginning Monday (6/28) on weekdays from 9 am – 1 pm. My office mapped the NYC Dept. of Education’s list of locations here— let us know where additional sites are needed (email Vegetarian meals will be available at all locations, and kosher and halal meals will be served at the same locations as last summer. More details are available here.

Families of public school students will also get $820-$1,320 per child in pandemic EBT to cover the cost of feeding their children during remote learning days. P-EBT will arrive on existing EBT cards or in the mail, and families will receive two rounds of payment. See what groceries are P-EBT eligible here (they’re the same as what you can spend SNAP benefits on). Regardless of if you need P-EBT to cover the cost of food, spending the funds at local stores and farmers markets will stimulate the state’s economy to the tune of $2.2 billion, so be sure to use your P-EBT.

I’m disappointed that the Rent Guidelines Board voted for a rent increase for rent-stabilized apartments. You can read my testimony calling for a rent freeze last week. For one-year leases from October 2021 onward, rents will be frozen at 0% increase for the first six months of lease and will have a 1.5% increase for the second six months; for two-year leases, rents may increase 2.5%. (Thankfully, the Board voted on a rent freeze for single-room occupancy units.)

Join us this Sunday (6/27) from 11 am – 6 pm at the Pridefest street fair where I’ll have a booth at the southeast corner of Broadway and E. 13th St.

Yesterday (6/23), I joined Community Board 2 for the first of three hearings on the SoHo/NoHo Rezoning proposal. It was livestreamed on YouTube, but if you missed it you have another chance tonight (6/24) at 6:30 pm via Zoom; register at

The third and final hearing will be Thursday, 7/8; register at

On Wednesday, 7/14 the full Board will meet and is expected to vote on the rezoning; register to watch that session at

Once that vote occurs, my land use staff will review the proposal, and I will issue my official ULURP opinion.

There are 14 other projects in the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) pipeline:

  • 250 Water St. (ULURP No. N210439ZRM) – CB 1

  • Disposition of Seaport Properties (ULURP No. N210444PPM) – CB1

  • 495 11th Ave. (“Slaughterhouse”) (ULURP No. TBD) – CB4

  • Windermere (ULURP No. 19DCP016M) – CB4

  • Starrett Lehigh – Terminal Stores (ULURP No. TBD) – CB4

  • 260 Madison Ave. (ULURP No. TBD) – CB5

  • 343 Madison Ave. (ULURP No. C210369ZSM, C210370ZSM) – CB5

  • Grand Hyatt/Project Commodore (ULURP No. TBD) – CB5

  • New Providence Women’s Shelter (ULURP No. TBD) – CB6

  • 3 E. 89th St. (ULURP No. TBD) – CB8

  • NY Blood Center (ULURP No. C210351ZMM, N210352ZRM, C210353ZSM) – CB8

  • 629-639 West 142nd St. Rezoning (ULURP No. C210261 ZMM, N 210262 ZRM) – CB9

  • Las Raices (ULURP No. TBD) – CB11

  • Restoring the George City Map Change (ULURP No. C 180024 MMM) – CB12

Citywide text amendments, which aren’t ULURPs, that my staff are working on are:

Congratulations to the two Manhattan NYPD precincts and one Public Service Area for winning the NYC Police Foundation’s “50 Grants for 50 Precincts” program, which offers grants up to $20,000 for police-community engagement initiatives. The 17th precinct won funding for officers and students from the High School of Art and Design to host a contest to choose someone to decorate the precinct’s garage door. The 13th precinct won for its proposed physical and mental wellness classes for youth connected with the Administration of Children’s Services. Housing Bureau Public Service Area 4 won funding to expand its Women Against Violence Emerge Program, which connects domestic violence victims with fellow survivors.

COVID News Clippings

Struggling Hospitals Could Explain Why So Many Black Patients Have Died Of COVID-19
By Stephanie M. Lee, BuzzFeed News, June 17, 2021

The Delta Variant Could Create “Two Americas” Of COVID, Experts Warn
By Peter Aldhous, BuzzFeed News, June 17, 2021

CDC Director: Delta variant to ‘probably’ become dominant strain in U.S.
By Ben Leonard,, June 18, 2021

COVID Segregation Is Worsening Even As NYC’s Vaccine Rollout Succeeds
By Nsikan Akpan, Jaclyn Jeffrey-Wilensky, and Mirela Iverac,, June 18, 2021

Opinion: Segregated hospitals are killing Black people. Data from the pandemic proves it.
by David A. Asch and Rachel M. Werner, Washington Post, June 18, 2021

Via Twitter: Prof. Akiko Iwasaki: A new study by @YaleSPH @ChenKai_yale & team shows that SARS-CoV-2’s reproductive number is attributable to seasonal factors; temperature (3.73%), humidity (9.35%) and UV radiation (4.44%). We need to vaccinate before the cold, dry, dark winter hits.

Youngest adults are least likely to be vaccinated, and their interest in shots is declining, CDC finds
By Akilah Johnson, Washington Post, June 21, 2021

Fauci Warns Dangerous Delta Variant Is The Greatest Threat To U.S. COVID Efforts (audio)
Morning Edition,, June 22, 2021

Coronavirus outbreak killed two at Fla. office, official says. A vaccinated person was spared.
By Timothy Bella, Washington Post, June 22, 2021

The Delta Variant Is a Grave Danger to the Unvaccinated
By Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, June 23, 2021

Heart Inflammation In Teens And Young Adults After COVID-19 Vaccine Is Rare, CDC Says
By Joel Neel and Nora Wamsley,, June 23, 2021

NYC News Clippings

New York City Lost 900,000 Jobs. Here’s How Many Have Come Back.
With restaurants leading the way, the New York job market is beginning to recover, but the pace is modest.
By Patrick McGeehan, NY Times, May 21, 2021

New York Faces Lasting Economic Toll Even as Pandemic Passes
The city’s prosperity is heavily dependent on patterns of work and travel that may be irreversibly altered.
By Nelson D. Schwartz, Patrick McGeehan and Nicole Hong, NY Times, June 20, 2021

Why We May Not Know Who Won the Mayoral Primary for Weeks
By Emma G. Fitzsimmons, NY Times, June 21, 2021


The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant was deliberately designed to help small arts organizations get up to $10 million in funding. Don’t hesitate to contact The NYC Dept. of Small Business Services’ Curtains Up initiative for individual assistance with applications.

The first deadline for New York State Council on the Arts FY22 grants is Thursday, 7/1. There will be three more rounds of grants through the fall. Learn more here.

Applications are now open for the New York State COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program, with grants up to $50,000 to cover lost business or costs incurred during the pandemic.

The NYC Artist Corps will give 3,000 artists $5,000 grants to support a creative activity that engages with the public. The next round of applications opens 7/6 – 7/20, and the following round will be open from 7/27 – 8/10.

Monday (6/28) at 2 pm, BIPOC filmmakers are invited to a webinar about applying for the Artist Corps hosted by Firelight Media and Black Public Media. Register here.

Also for the NYC Artist Corps, NYCHA is seeking 60 artists to install temporary public murals on sidewalk sheds and construction fencing throughout the city’s public housing network, part of the City Canvas initiative. Artists receive $6,000 stipends, and all expenses will be covered. NYCHA residents or artists who have strong connections to specific NYCHA communities will be prioritized. Apply by Monday, 7/5.

Applications are still open to get $800 toward an air conditioner or fan, known as the Home Energy Assistance Program Cooling Assistance Benefit. This link explains eligibility and necessary documents for this first-come-first-served benefit.

The NYC Economic Development Corporation invites nonprofits or joint ventures led by nonprofits to submit proposals for new or expanded facilities to support the local commercial life sciences community of early-stage companies, academic researchers, and incubators/accelerators. See the RFP here.

The NeON Nutrition Kitchen food pantry at 302 W. 124th St. is now open Wednesdays and Fridays, 11 am – 2 pm. Call 917- 809-8990 for more information.

New mothers in these Northern Manhattan ZIP codes (10026, 10027, 10030, 10031, 10032, 10033, 10034, 10037, 10039, 10040) can get up to $1,000 a month in guaranteed income for a year through a new pilot program from the Bridge Project. Apply here by Friday, 6/25.

Columbia University’s paid Freedom & Citizenship summer college seminar starts Tuesday (6/29), and applications are still open. The program awards a $1,000 stipend, introduces students to college-level work in the humanities, and prepares them for lives as informed, responsible citizens. Apply here.

Students can apply for CUNY’s free College Prep program, which begins Monday, 7/5 and helps develop university-level reading, writing, and math skills. Students can also get assistance to apply for future college and financial aid programs. See what documents are needed to apply here.

The City is offering partial scholarships for either a CUNY degree or social work license to eligible human services workers, the Human Services Career Advancement Scholarship. Apply for an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree here and for test prep for the licensed master social worker exam here.

Nonprofits advancing racial equity can apply for $500,000 grants from the Citi Foundation’s Community Progress Makers initiative. The foundation will prioritize organizations supporting communities of color through affordable housing, environmental sustainability, economic development, financial health, social justice, workforce readiness, and family-sustaining employment. Learn more and apply here.

Young adults are invited to apply for the Knowledge House Cybersecurity Innovation Fellowship. Participants get a monthly stipend, certifications, a paid internship, and equipment for the duration of the fellowship. Click the link above to learn more and apply.

Become trained in solar installation during a free course from WE ACT for Environmental Justice, offering 30 hours of OSHA training and 10 hours of site safety training. Interested participants must attend a virtual orientation on Wednesday, 7/7 at 1 pm. Register for the Zoom here.

In recognition of World No Tobacco Day, Smoke-Free NYCHA invites artists of all ages who are NYCHA residents to submit their artistic vision of a smoke-free environment. Prizes will be awarded for all age categories. Submit works by Thursday, 7/1 via this Google Form.

The Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance is hosting virtual and in-person arts and culture events throughout the summer.

The Arts Center at Governors Island is open through October with three new exhibits. All exhibits and programming are free. Reserve tickets here.

Nominate cultural organizations for the forthcoming online platform HueArts, which will feature a map and searchable directory to find arts entities by people of color and is sponsored by Museum HueThe Laundromat Project, and Hester Street.


Tonight (6/24) at 6 pm, tenants facing eviction can learn how to delay eviction until at least September by filling out the New York State hardship declaration form and how to connect with local tenant organizing groups. Join the Zoom here, hosted by the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition.

Tonight (6/24) from 6:30-8 pm, NYC Parks is inviting the community to participate in the design process for the renovation of the playground in Hamilton Fish Park (Houston and Pitt St.) by attending a virtual meeting. With this input, the Parks Department will develop a plan for the renovation, which will then be presented to the community board for public review. Register via Zoom here.

Tonight (6/24) at 7 pm, Lincoln Center Theater’s Resident Director Lileana Blain-Cruz is joined by three other LCT directors for a virtual conversation about their work and their hopes for the future of the theater in a post-pandemic world. Register for the Zoom here.

Friday (6/25) at 1 pm, Black business owners are invited to a virtual “Five Boro Black Business Forum: The Future Starts Here,” hosted by the City’s Black Entrepreneurs NYC initiative. Panel topics include accessing capital, strengthening networks, scaling businesses, and challenges and opportunities. Click the title to register.

Saturday (6/26) at 11 am, join a park cleanup at Sunshine Playground (E. 101st St. and 3rd Ave.), hosted by Friends of Sunshine Playground. Click here to volunteer.

Saturday (6/26) at 11 am, wildlife rehabilitator Annie Mardiney, shares her story and introduces a dozen of her rehabilitated birds over Zoom, hosted by senior citizen nonprofit Search and Care. Register here.

Bryant Park’s “Reel Talks” series discusses film, the culture of cinema, and filmmaking most Mondays at 3 pm during the summer. The next event is a “Conversation on Martin Scorsese’s NYC Films” on Monday (6/28) at 3 pm.

Monday (6/28) from 6-8 pm and Wednesday (6/30) from 4-6 pm, join a virtual open house about the FiDi-Seaport Climate Resilience Plan to give input about how to provide flood protection infrastructure while also responding to community needs. Register Monday’s session or Wednesday’s session, hosted by the NYC Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor’s Office of Climate Resiliency.

Monday (6/28) at 6:30 pm, Upper East Side, Yorkville, and Roosevelt Island parents and students are invited to a discussion of students’ needs, “Education & The Lens of Social Justice: Where are we? What is needed?”during a joint meeting of Community Board 8’s Social Justice and Youth & Education Committees. Click the title to register for the Zoom.

Tuesday (6/29) at 6 pm, join a virtual workshop and dialogue on community anti-racism efforts. The evening begins with a workshop on human rights law and protections against racism and is followed at 7:30 pm by a dialogue with Community Boards 1, 4, 6, 7, and 12. Register here.

Tuesday (6/29) at 6 pm, NYCHA residents are invited to a virtual “Community Conversation: Secondhand Marijuana Smoke,” hosted by the Smoke-Free NYCHA initiative. Click the title to register.