AG James Urges Stimulus Payments Go to Families, Not Debt Collectors
State Attorney General Letitia James yesterday led a bipartisan coalition of 25 attorneys general in sending a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, calling on the U.S. Department of the Treasury to take immediate action to ensure billions of dollars in emergency stimulus payments authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) go to American families and not debt collectors.
Congress passed the CARES Act three weeks ago to provide direct and immediate economic relief to all individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19, but — unlike other government programs — the CARES Act does not explicitly designate these emergency stimulus payments as exempt from garnishment from creditors.
“Millions of New Yorkers’ impacted by COVID-19 wake up every day uncertain about their ability to pay medical bills, buy groceries, or pay rent,” said James. “The CARES Act was intended to serve the American peoples’ basic needs and provide a vital lifeline to all who have lost their jobs or seen their incomes reduced. The Treasury Department can stop suffering for millions of Americans by taking immediate action and protecting these payments before many of these payments go out.”
The CARES Act authorizes the Treasury Department to issue emergency stimulus payments of up to $1,200 for eligible adults and up to $500 for eligible children.
Sanders Gives Valuable COVID-19 Updates
State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Jamaica, Rochdale Village, Rosedale, parts of Far Rockaway) noted in his daily e-newsletter yesterday that the mayor is expanding COVID-19 testing in hard-hit communities including in Jamaica, Queens.
Vulnerable New Yorkers who have symptoms or questions about COVID-19 can call 844-NYC-4NYC to connect with a medical provider from Health and Hospitals.
Sanders also noted effective yesterday, all essential City workers must wear face coverings when interacting with the public while on duty. The City is distributing face coverings to any worker who needs one. For more information, click HERE.
Sanders also noted that given the city’s current situation, many families are becoming unemployed due to their businesses closing. Those who did not qualify for SNAP may be eligible now due to income changes.
This program offers free and confidential full pre-screenings for SNAP, SNAP application assistance as well guidance on case issues. Additionally, they have partnered with many organizations and agencies where they may be able to offer resources around food assistance if the individual inquires or is not eligible for SNAP.
Finally, Sanders said due to COVID-19 many veterans who were previously denied VA healthcare enrollment due to high-income levels may be eligible to reapply for VA healthcare under the financial hardship provision based on applying for unemployment during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Veteran must provide VA information as to both, their calendar year to date and projected income, expenses, and any other special circumstances he/she believes will help in approving hardship determination.
For more info click on http://vaww.va.gov/vaforms/medical/pdf/vha-10-10HS-fill.pdf.
Meng Calls for Key Food Assistance Program to Allow Hot Food Purchases
U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) and Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan, Bronx) yesterday called for a key food assistance program to include hot food during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter they led to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the lawmakers urged the agency to allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries to purchase hot food from retailers for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. Currently, SNAP benefits do not cover hot food.
“As the COVID-19 outbreak forces families to endure financial hardships, we must make sure that nobody goes hungry, and that all New Yorkers, and those throughout the nation, can still put food on the table,” said Meng. “Granting a waiver that allows SNAP participants to purchase hot food would provide needed flexibility during this pandemic, and help ease the burden they currently face in providing nutritious meals to their families. Permitting the purchase of hot food would also make it easier for many essential frontline workers to do their jobs since these employees who are SNAP beneficiaries would not be forced to cook full meals during this difficult time. I urge Secretary Perdue to act swiftly and I await his response to our letter.”
The letter includes signatures of 53 members of Congress and is supported by the New York City Food Bank, Feeding America, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, and Bread for the World.
Schumer, Gillibrand Urges More Protections For Transit Workers
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) joined senate colleagues yesterday urging the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to update safety guidelines and ensure all frontline transit workers have access to personal protective equipment (PPE).
This has been a specific concern of the New York M.T.A. system, where workers have reported a need for more personal protection and cleaning materials needed to stay safe as they continue working in these risky conditions. Robust safety guidelines and access to PPE are vital to protecting both transit and healthcare workers on the frontlines of this pandemic.
“Our state’s transit workers are risking their lives every day as they continue to serve the public by providing reliable transit options to essential workers during this unprecedented health crisis,” said Schumer. “The Federal Transit Administration should do right by its workers on the frontlines and update safety guidelines and provide them with critical personal protective equipment to ensure their health and safety. I will continue to do everything in my power to support those who are helping New York and the country fight this pandemic.”
“Public transportation workers provide an irreplaceable service during this pandemic, ensuring that essential transportation is up and running during the COVID-19 pandemic in New York,” said Gillibrand. “Our brave frontline transit workers urgently need protective equipment to stay safe while they are putting themselves at risk every day to get people to and from work. I will continue to fight to ensure all frontline workers have access to the resources they need in supporting New Yorkers during this crisis.”
Addabbo: Don’t Forget Quality of Life Issues During Quarantine
State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways) reminded local governmental offices yesterday to not lose sight of the quality of life concerns during this time of COVID-19 quarantine.
Although many government agencies have depleted staff due to the state’s social distancing orders, Addabbo has been working with the National Parks Service and the NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY) to clean up problem areas throughout his district.
“I have heard from some of my constituents that there has been an increase in garbage piling up at Charles Park in Howard Beach, and I have been in touch with the National Parks Service to get that situation remedied,” Addabbo said. “I also contacted the DSNY regarding a burnt, abandoned car that needs removal within the district. I appreciate the efforts of all our government workers, as they perform their duties and maintain a work standard with a much-depleted staff.
“While we are all responsibly quarantining, we cannot forget about the quality of life for our constituents. I will continue to work with our dedicated government agencies to ensure that our quality of life remains while we fight the Coronavirus and protect New Yorkers.”