COVID-19 updates

Sen. Robert Jackson

April 28, 2020

If you missed an update from Senator Jackson during COVID-19, you can find them all archived here.

March 3, 2020 Read More

COVID-19 UPDATE

I am proud of our State government for moving quickly last night to pass a bill releasing emergency funds of $40 million to ensure we are prepared to respond to the evolving novel coronavirus situation. City government has also responded diligently and has asked that we pass along the following information:

At this time, New Yorkers do NOT need to:

  • Limit travel within the city.

  • Avoid public gatherings and public transportation.

  • Change anything about where you get your food or how you prepare it.

  • Wear a face mask if you are not sick. Face masks are only recommended if directed by a health care provider.

    • People wear protective face masks for many reasons, including seasonal allergies, pollution or protecting those around them from a common cold. They should not be harassed or targeted for wearing one.

What should New Yorkers do? New Yorkers should go about their daily lives, but take certain precautions:

  • Get the flu shot—it’s not too late. Although the flu shot will not protect you from COVID-19, it will help prevent the flu which has similar symptoms to this coronavirus.

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands).

  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.

    • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

  • If you feel sick, stay home.

  • If you have fever, cough and/or shortness of breath, and recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread of coronavirus, or have been in close contact with someone who has recently traveled to any of those areas, go to your doctor.

  • If you have these symptoms, but no travel history, stay home and call your doctor.

    • If you need connection to a health care provider, call 311.

    • Hospital staff will not ask about immigration status. Receiving health care is not a public benefit identified by the public charge test.

It is important that we separate facts from fear and guard against stigma. A lot of information circulating about coronavirus on social media and even in some news reporting is not based in the facts. Support your friends, neighbors and colleagues by proactively sharing this message and countering misinformation. Obtain information about COVID-19 from trusted sources like the NYC Health Department, the CDC, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

If you are being harassed due to your race, nation of origin or other identities, you can report discrimination or harassment to the NYC Commission on Human Rights by calling 311 and saying “human rights.”

If you are experiencing stress or feel anxious, contact NYC Well at 888-NYC-WELL (888-692-9355) or text WELL to 65173. NYC Well is a confidential help line that is staffed 24/7 by trained counselors who can provide brief supportive therapy, crisis counseling, and connections to behavioral health treatment, in more than 200 languages.

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My office and the offices of other elected public officials are coordinating a Covid-19 community forum on Sunday, March 8, where you can get answers to your question from public health experts. This forum will be broadcast on social media so you can interact from your home if you so choose. Stay tuned for information on time and location.

March 6, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

I’m writing again this week because there are two pressing threats to our community that I need to address—the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the continued health and safety of our immigrant neighbors.

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

In New York City and State, we continue to experience an increase in the number of reported cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). I know there is particular concern in the Jewish community in and around Washington Heights after two individuals affiliated with Yeshiva University have tested positive. There is also an issue of access to trusted information for our Spanish-dominant community members, as well as the concerns of our elderly population.

I am committed to using my voice as an elected public official to disseminate accurate and up-to-date information about how we can keep each other safe. Please consider amplifying the message by printing and posting the below graphics in your building and sending this email to your family and friends.

Currently, guidance from NYC Department of Health recommends that we:

  • Do wash our hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds

  • Do cover our mouth and nose with a tissue or a sleeve when we cough or sneeze

  • Do stay home if you feel sick.

 

  • Do not limit travel within the city.

  • Do not avoid public gatherings and public transportation

  • Do not change anything about where you get your food or how you prepare it.

  • Do not wear a face mask if you are not sick. Face masks are only recommended if directed by a health care provider

    • People wear protective face masks for many reasons, including seasonal allergies, pollution or protecting those around them from a common cold. They should not be harassed or targeted for wearing one.

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Our government is being tested—our ability to implement policies that keep people safe and allow goods and funds to flow to where they’re most needed, our ability to communicate clearly through the noise to all our community members (not just those of you who read emails like this one!). This virus has the potential to lay bare the inequalities in our health system and in our government. For instance, already my staff and I have experienced concerns about how some health guidelines interact with old habits of refusing to seek medical care among working class communities of color who can’t afford it. As the situation evolves, if you notice messaging that isn’t working or people who are struggling to get help they need, please reach out to my office to see if we can help.  I am committed to making sure our government rises to the occasion.

 

Health and Safety of our Immigrant Neighbors: ICE and Public Charge

Enforcement activities of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Sanctuary Cities like New York will enter a new, more aggressive phase according to the New York Times. The use of ICE special forces in our city to terrorize and disrupt our community means we really have to look out for each other. Please consider printing out the below Know Your Rights graphics and posting them in your building and emailing them to your networks.

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A more bureaucratic menace threatens to keep immigrants from vital social services: the public charge rule change. As of February 24, the federal administration has decided to widen how they screen people applying for certain visas, including green card applicants, for their likelihood to become a “public charge.” This is a wealth test designed to discriminate against working-class immigrants and, more importantly, to spread fear and misinformation within immigrant communities to diminish their use of government benefits. The New York Immigration Coalition has put together a very helpful one-pager we should all read to understand this hateful and discriminatory policy.

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The bottom line is that you should not cancel public benefits if this rule change doesn’t apply to you, and you should consult with an immigration lawyer if you have questions about whether it does.

If you have questions about any of these policies, don’t hesitate to get in touch with my office.

In Unity,

RJ

March 11, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

I wanted to make sure you knew about a Virtual Town Hall on coronavirus (COVID-19) and school communities tonight at 6:30pm that my team and I are organizing in order to give our parents, students, teachers, and other stakeholders access to trusted sources of information about the difficult issues we’re facing.

Moderators:

  • Me, Senator Robert Jackson
  • Council Member Mark Treyger, NYC Council Education Chair
  • Shino Tanikawa, Education Council Consortium co-Chair (ECC)
  • Marco Battistella, Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council co-Chair (CPAC)

Panelists:

  • A public health expert from NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene
  • Senior officials from NYC Department of Education

We will go live on my government accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @SenatorRJackson to take your questions. You can also submit questions in advance using this form. The Town Hall itself will be in English, but we are working to provide Spanish translation that will be available online soon after. If you don't have social media, you can call 415.655.0001 and enter code 735 002 539 to listen in.

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Please pass this email along to those in your life who could benefit from this event.

I also want to send along a few helpful phone numbers:

  • NYC is providing updates on the coronavirus situation locally that you can subscribe to receive by texting COVID to 692-692.

  • If you have questions about coronavirus, please call the NYS hotline at 888.364.3065. This hotline is staffed 24/7 and in multiple languages by public health workers.

  • If you see price gouging of soap, wipes, masks, or other important health products, call the NYS toll-free hotline at 800.697.1220 so the Attorney General’s office can step in.

In Unity,

RJ

PS - The census starts tomorrow! Please take time to fill it out right away so our district can be fully counted and receive the resources and representation we deserve. (My office has a laptop available 1–4pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday if you need!)

March 13, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

In this update I’m sharing the latest news and guidance I have about the coronavirus situation and starting a conversation about Mutual Aid in response to the pandemic.

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATE

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to grow in NYC and NYS right now. Because our local and state health agencies have been knee-capped by a slow and half-hearted federal response, testing has not been as widely available as it should have and we are focusing on containment as much as possible at this point. In keeping with this focus, Governor Cuomo yesterday banned gatherings of more than 500 people and mandated establishments with fewer than 500 occupants or attendees must operate at no more than 50% of their maximum occupancy. Thankfully, the Governor has just announced that the private health labs in New York State will be able to ramp up testing to 5,000 daily. Things are moving very quickly, so I want to provide some updates on my office’s response to the coronavirus situation:

Schools

I am calling on the Department of Education to close a majority of school buildings starting next week and shift education to remote methods. I support Council Member Treyger’s call for a select number of schools to remain open to offer grab-and-go meals and essential medical services.

I do not take this step lightly. I have great respect for our public health authorities and do not seek to undermine their guidance. However, I have received overwhelming concerns from parents, teachers, students, and other education stakeholders who no longer feel comfortable with keeping public schools open at a time when public and private universities have moved to remote instruction and when the Governor has banned gatherings of more than 500 people. I have also spoken with medical experts at leading universities in our city who expressed grave concerns with the decision to keep schools open thus far during the pandemic.

I stand ready to support educators and administrators and our entire school communities to make this transition as soon as possible so that we can keep our people safe during this fast-evolving public health crisis. I have pushed to allow remote learning to count toward a school’s 180 days of classes, and Governor Cuomo has just announced that this policy will take effect now.

Housing

I have also joined a letter with 23 of my Senate colleagues asking Chief Justice Janet DiFiore for a moratorium on evictions during the public health emergency at the city and state levels. We also need to be developing plans for people experiencing homelessness right now. (See below for Mutual Aid ideas.)

Census

I support Congressman Espaillat’s call to extend the deadlines for Census 2020 so that our communities can be fully counted without putting census workers at greater health risk.

Information + Resources

Up-to-date information is available at the State and Local levels:

NYC is providing updates on the coronavirus situation locally that you can subscribe to receive by texting COVID to 692-692.

If you have questions about coronavirus, please call the NYS hotline at 888.364.3065. This hotline is staffed 24/7 and in multiple languages by public health workers.

If you see price gouging of soap, wipes, masks, or other important health products, call the NYS toll-free hotline at 800.697.1220 so the Attorney General’s office can step in.

The following press outlets are offering their trusted coverage of the coronavirus for free:

New York Times

ProPublica

NPR

MY DISTRICT OFFICE STAFF WILL WORK REMOTELY STARTING MONDAY

In order to try to slow the spread of COVID-19, my district office staff will be working remotely beginning on Monday until further notice. You can still reach us by email and phone for intakes and questions. We will also be devoting staff energies to the mutual aid efforts I describe below.

MUTUAL AID IN OUR COMMUNITIES

All indicators suggest our communities will be encouraged to practice social distancing and possibly more extreme containment measures for the foreseeable future. These measures are going to take a toll on the physical and emotional wellbeing of all kinds of people. My staff and I are committed to supporting the communities in our district and beyond.

Adapting the grassroots model of mutual aid developed in response to natural disasters, we are calling on any interested community members to fill out this form for us to reach out about holding a phone call Monday at 12:30pm to start coordinating plans. Here are some of the ideas for what a mutual aid effort could do:

  • Elder care and meaningful socializing-at-a-distance

  • Childcare for essential workers like healthcare professionals

  • Support for homeless people

  • Grocery runs and prescription pick-up for immunocompromised and disabled people and their families

  • Mental health first aid and individual or group therapy sessions by affinity group with licensed practitioners

  • At-home extracurriculars for children including tutoring services, music lessons, yoga classes, etc.

  • Cooking classes

  • Emergency fund for vulnerable workers

  • Keeping a pulse on local healthcare infrastructure

If you’re able to pitching in, fill out the form to indicate your interest.

In Unity,

RJ

March 17, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

In this update I’m sharing the latest news and guidance I have about the coronavirus situation and sending you information about mutual aid in response to the pandemic my office is helping to jump-start in the neighborhoods I represent.

MUTUAL AID UPDATES

Last night we launched a form to gather information about the supports and needs in our community during the COVID-19 outbreak at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com. Please fill it out as soon as possible and share the link with your contacts. If you have capacity to be a "pod leader" who can help coordinate needs/support for your floor, building, or block, please include that information when you fill out the form. My team will be in touch with pod leaders to equip you with additional resources in the coming days.

We have over 40 “pod leaders” signed up already to help coordinate mutual aid in their floor, building, or block and more coming in by the hour. Please view these flyers in English and Spanish that you can print out and distribute and/or pass along to contacts in your networks to spread the word about mutual aid in your neighborhood. If you're in need of printing, let my office know and we'll try to hook you up with resources (health guidance permitting), either from our office or another elected official closer to you.

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My office is committed to providing resources and staffing to get these efforts off the ground, but ultimately mutual aid works when a community comes together. Here are some other efforts taking shape in our district:

  • Invisible Hands is a group of healthy volunteers from communities at the least risk for severe COVID-19 reactions working to bring groceries and supplies to those in high-risk demographics. Contact them to place an order for yourself or on behalf of family/friend/neighbor. Volunteers needed too! Request a delivery via website, phone or email.

  • Food Pantries are in special need at this time. See a list here and a map here and consider donating if you can. 

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATES

Constantly-updated resource

My team is curating a list of resources updated daily at covid19.senatorjackson.com. Below are some highlights. I’m grateful to other elected public officials also compiling resources that we share among one another.

Government Services

In order to try to slow the spread of COVID-19, my district and Albany office staff are working remotely until further notice. You can still reach us by email and phone for intakes and questions. We will also be devoting staff energies to the mutual aid efforts I described above.

Many other local and state elected officials have closed their offices, too. If you had appointments, call to see whether they are postponed or can be coordinated virtually.

Social Security offices are now closed to the public. Their secure online services remain available at www.socialsecurity.gov. If you cannot complete your Social Security business online, please call them at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Justice Policies

Advocates have continued fighting for justice during this pandemic. Their efforts bear fruit that gives us hope. Here are some highlights:

  • Governor Cuomo and Attorney General James temporarily suspended state debt collection in response to coronavirus. The state will temporarily halt the collection of medical and student debt owed to the State of New York and referred to the Office of the Attorney General for collection, for at least a 30-day period, in response to growing financial impairments resulting from the spread of 2019 novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. Apply here.

  • Evictions in NYC are suspended indefinitely. Housing Court will also be closed indefinitely, except for emergency cases (such as illegal lock-out, post eviction, emergency repair cases). Tenants will receive a postcard with a new date to go to court. People with emergencies should call the court. Questions can be addressed with the Housing Court Answers hotline at 212.962.4795 that is open M-F 9am-5pm. NYCHA hearings are also cancelled. Con Edison has temporarily suspended any electric and gas shutoffs for customers that are having payment difficulties related to COVID-19 coronavirus.

  • The Governor, Senate, and Assembly have reached an agreement on Paid Leave for New York State workers. My office is working diligently to make sure we continue to advocate for freelancers, school crossing guards, and other workers who may otherwise be left out of final agreements on this crucial policy. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, consider applying for a Coronavirus Financial Impact Loan from the Hebrew Free Loan Society.

I will continue to push for justice policies like universal cash payments to all New Yorkers and a bill to codify utility debt forgiveness for those who will not be able to pay those bills for lost income.

Education

Free Meals

Public Schools are offering free grab-and-go breakfast and lunch this week, 7:30am–1pm. You can go to your closest school, it does not have to be the one your child attends. You do not have to have a child at the school and your child does not even have to be school age. You can pick up both meals at the same time, no need to come back a second time. If the school is locked, ring the bell.

DOE Schedule March 17 - 23

  • Tuesday, March 17-Thursday, March 19: All staff reports to schools. Professional development in remote learning will be held for Teachers and Principals. Some administrators will also be present. 

  • Thursday, March 19-Friday, March 20: Students in need will be able to begin the process of picking up laptops for remote learning.

  • Monday, March 23: Remote learning begins.

  • Monday, March 23: Regional Enrichment Centers will be available for the children of first responders, healthcare workers, and our most vulnerable populations.

Remote Learning

Remote learning will go into effect for grades K-12 the week of March 23rd. DOE will support schools at all levels of readiness to deliver remote learning, and more information will be provided to families about online platforms in the coming days.

Special Education Concerns

NYC Schools Account

Please sign up for a NYC Schools Account. You must have a New York City Schools Account for your children to access remote learning programs. You can sign up for your account HERE [https://mystudent.nyc/].

DOE "Learn at Home" Resources

In addition to “remote learning,” the Department of Education is providing supplementary learning resources to students and parents for use during the school closure. The DOE has shared resources for students in all grades. These materials should not replace “remote learning” plans, but during this unusual time, it is important that students supplement their course work.

Grade-specific pages include:

    •    Guides and materials for instructional activities

    •    Recommended educational television shows

    •    Links to a variety of books, magazines, and websites on a wide range of topics that appeal to children at all ages

New York Public Library (NYPL)

You can find a comprehensive list of NYPL's digital resources on their website. This includes access to e-books, research e-journals, online newspapers, and resources for young learners. If you have any questions, please refer to their reference service, Ask NYPL.

Starting yesterday, Charter cable is offering 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. To enroll in the free broadband service, call 844.488.8395. Because this is the standard customer service line, use the "new service" or "add service" option. To avoid long wait times, call early in the morning or later in the evening, until 1am.

Small Businesses

Effective Tuesday, March 17th at 9 a.m. the Mayor has restricted restaurants, bars, and cafes to take-out and delivery only and has ordered that bars that do not serve food, clubs, movie theaters, smaller theaters, concert venues and gyms will be closed.

Sign up here to receive COVID-19 updates from NYC Small Business Services

NYC will provide relief for small businesses across the city that are experiencing a reduction in revenue due to the COVID-19 outbreak. If your business has fewer than 100 employees, and has seen a decrease in sales of 25% or more, you will be eligible for zero interest loans of up to $75,000 to help mitigate losses in profit. The City will also offer a grant for those businesses with less than 5 employees to cover 40% of payroll costs.

Healthcare

In the event that the novel coronavirus crisis worsens, the State needs the help of qualified retired health and related professionals AND students to supplement our hospital capacity on a temporary basis to treat seriously ill coronavirus patients including those who may need to be intubated. The NYS Dept. of Health will recertify individuals for the purpose. Please sign up here.

The city is also mobilizing a Medical Reserve Corps of retired and licensed medical workers, and is also seeking help from all healthcare workers right now.

Many hospitals are canceling elective procedures, including NewYork-Presbyterian, which has several locations within our district. If you were scheduled to receive an elective procedure in the coming weeks, be sure to consult your doctor’s office to see whether that procedure has been postponed.

Information + Resources

Up-to-date information is available at the State and Local levels:

  • NYC is providing updates on the coronavirus situation locally that you can subscribe to receive by texting COVID to 692-692.

  • If you have questions about coronavirus, please call the NYS hotline at 888.364.3065. This hotline is staffed 24/7 and in multiple languages by public health workers.

  • If you see price gouging of soap, wipes, masks, or other important health products, call the NYS toll-free hotline at 800.697.1220 so the Attorney General’s office can step in.

The following press outlets are offering their trusted coverage of the coronavirus for free:

In Unity,

RJ

March 21, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

LATEST UPDATES

The latest news is that Governor Cuomo has issued a 10-point NYS on PAUSE plan:

  1. Effective 8pm on Sunday, March 22, non-essential businesses statewide will be closed;

  2. Non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g. parties, celebrations or other social events) are canceled or postponed at this time;

  3. Any concentration of individuals outside their home must be limited to workers providing essential services and social distancing should be practiced;

  4. When in public individuals must practice social distancing of at least six feet from others;

  5. Businesses and entities that provide other essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet;

  6. Individuals should limit outdoor recreational activities to non-contact and avoid activities where they come in close contact with other people;

  7. Individuals should limit use of public transportation to when absolutely necessary and should limit potential exposure by spacing out at least six feet from other riders;

  8. Sick individuals should not leave their home unless to receive medical care and only after a telehealth visit to determine if leaving the home is in the best interest of their health;

  9. Young people should also practice social distancing and avoid contact with vulnerable populations; and

  10. Use precautionary sanitizer practices such as using isopropyl alcohol wipes.

The Governor also issued an executive order on Friday, March 20, to protect vulnerable populations including individuals age 70 and older, those with compromised immune systems and those with underlying illnesses:

  • Remain indoors;

  • Can go outside for solitary exercise;

  • Pre-screen all visitors and aides by taking their temperature and seeing if person is exhibiting other flu-like symptoms;

  • Do not visit households with multiple people;

  • Wear a mask when in the company of others;

  • To the greatest extent possible, everyone in the presence of vulnerable people should wear a mask;

  • Always stay at least six feet away from individuals; and

  • Do not take public transportation unless urgent and absolutely necessary.

Because the case numbers of COVID-19 continue to rise across New York State, these more extreme measures make the most sense at this time.

CALL FOR RENT FREEZE

I am joining thousands of other tenants who have signed a petition advocating for a rent freeze for 3 months. We are asking Gov. Cuomo to take action via Executive Order. Michael Gianaris, Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate, said that if this does not happen by Executive Order then he will introduce legislation. I will sign on to the proposed legislation. I encourage you to sign the petition for a rent freeze as well.

RESOURCE LIST

I am seeing and hearing that the effects of coronavirus are making daily life more and more difficult for many of my constituents. In an effort to keep you updated about resources from government and civil society, my team has compiled a continually-updated list at covid19.senatorjackson.com. Please email me if you have additional resources to add or find errors or out-of-date information.

MUTUAL AID

Another essential component of our collective response to COVID-19 must continue to be mutual aid. If you are interested in helping coordinate grocery drops, childcare, medical advocacy, and more for your building or block, please fill out the second part of this form. “Pods” are springing up throughout our district, and in the coming weeks we’ll start to see these local networks of support jump into action.

If you can’t commit to lead a “pod” but have support you can offer or needs others can help you meet, please fill out the third and fourth sections of the form above. Again, it’s at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com.

I’ll write more about the state budget situation early next week. In the meantime, stay safe.

In unity,

RJ

PS - I'm hosting a Virtual Town Hall on Mental Health with professionals who can answer questions and offer advice next Friday (27 March) on Facebook Live. There will be more info in my next update, but I wanted to tell you now in case you wanted to mark your calendars.

March 23, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

We have to walk and chew gum at the same time these days. April 1 is the statutory deadline for our state legislature to pass a budget, COVID-19 or no COVID-19. Please read on for a budget update, a legislative update, and some coronavirus response news.

BUDGET UPDATE

I am going to be very frank with you. Governor Cuomo has been handling this public health emergency with admirable leadership in many regards. However, at the same time, he is railroading through a budget with policy and funding decisions that will hobble our state’s ability to weather this crisis and come out the other side strong.

In particular, I have my eye on the following issues:

  • The Governor has not responded positively to advocates’ demands for revenue-generating mechanisms that are going to be essential for our state to maintain core, people-centered services. We have to tax the wealthiest New Yorkers now.

  • One of the most important uses for this much-needed revenue is education funding. The Governor had already put forward an education budget that advocates and I felt was woefully inadequate, but now he’s talking about pulling back funding even further from what is legally mandated by the Foundation Aid formula. We are seeing the vulnerabilities of an underfunded education system in our response to the COVID-19 crisis. We cannot perpetuate these funding inequities. We must fully fund Foundation Aid now.

  • The conversation on bail reform is ongoing, but Governor Cuomo has declared his intent to modify last year’s progressive reforms in this year’s budget. That decision is not only premature because we lack the data to evaluate the effects of the reforms, but it is also irresponsible in the present moment given the heightened risk of COVID-19 contraction facing incarcerated people. We must get as many people out of incarceration as possible right now because it’s the humane thing to do.

  • The Governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team II (MRT II) has handed down recommendations that would gut key financial supports and patients’ rights provisions of New York State’s Medicaid program at a time when we must be strengthening our social safety net. We must balance fiscal responsibility with a duty to provide quality care to all our constituents.

I am fighting hard on these and other issues as my colleagues and I finalize our One-House Budget Resolution this week. Please, keep up the pressure on us and on the Governor to do the right thing on your issues and concerns amidst this crisis.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Last week we passed some important legislation that begins to address the massive disruptions to the labor market that COVID-19 is causing. We’ve waived the 7-day waiting period for unemployment applications and mandated paid leave for businesses large and small. See Finances & Work > Unemployment Insurance and Paid Leave at my covid19.senatorjackson.com resource guide for more details.

I’m aware how difficult it’s been for many of you to finalize an unemployment claim because of the high volume of calls. My team is working with the executive branch to increase the capacity of the Dept. of Labor to handle these important cases.

I’ve introduced legislation that requires pharmacies to fill prescriptions at a 120-day supply when a state disaster emergency is declared. It forbids insurance companies from requiring prior authorization for a 120-day supply when a state disaster emergency is declared, imposing a $100 fine per dose of medication, which would result in a $12,000 fine for a 120-day medication request. We have to make sure our people can get their medications safely during this crisis.

Last but certainly not least, I am 100% committed to fighting for a rent moratorium for the duration and immediate aftermath of this crisis. I’m signing onto Sen. Gianaris’ bill calling for the same and I encourage you to sign the petition for a rent freeze as well.

 

COMMUNITY UPDATES

Mental Health During Coronavirus: A Virtual Town Hall

Join me and mental health leaders on Friday at 3pm on Facebook Live for a virtual town hall on mental health during the coronavirus crisis. We’ll hear tools and tips from practitioners covering topics that range from youth and elders to trauma and substance use. Then you’ll have a chance to hear answers to some of your pressing questions. If you have a question for a mental health expert, submit it in advance so we can prioritize it.

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The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum is still working to provide educational resources for the communities they serve, including site specific work from local artists to exhibit over the next year. Submitting an application for site specific artist work is easy and free.

Mutual Aid efforts continue in Senate District 31! If you are interested in helping coordinate grocery drops, childcare, medical advocacy, and more for your building or block, please fill out the second part of this form. “Pods” are springing up throughout our district, and in the coming weeks we’ll start to see these local networks of support jump into action. If you can’t commit to lead a “pod” but have support you can offer or needs others can help you meet, please fill out the third and fourth sections of the form above. Again, it’s at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com.

In Unity,

RJ

March 27, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

I wanted to send a brief message reminding you about Mental Health During Coronavirus: A Virtual Town Hall that I'm hosting at 3pm today on Facebook Live. Join me and panelists from the National Alliance on Mental Illness NYC, Columbia University Medical Center, John Jay College, and Mobilization for Justice. We'll hear tools and tips from experts on mental health care for youth, elders, people facing substance use challenges, and more. There will also be opportunity for Q&A, so please submit questions in advance at http://MentalHealth.senatorjackson.com. If you do not have regular access to Facebook, you can listen in by calling 408.418.9388.

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I'll write more soon with legislative/budget and COVID-19 updates.

In Unity,

RJ

March 30, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

I’m back up in Albany where the legislature and the governor are working to finalize a budget. I want to level with you: it’s not looking good. I am going to get into some of the details below with ways you can still get involved—it’s not too late! At the end of this email you’ll find important resources for our communities to have in the fight against COVID-19, including a recap from Mental Health During Coronavirus that I hosted last Friday.

FIGHTING FOR BUDGET JUSTICE

Late last week, I co-wrote an op-ed with my colleagues in the Senate Alessandra Biaggi and Gustavo Rivera that was picked up by the Daily News. I encourage you to read it. The bottom line is that Governor Cuomo is railroading us into an austerity budget that may include massive cuts to education and healthcare. Much like our education system, our healthcare system in New York State has been set back for years as a result of harmful policies put in place by the governor. Unbelievably, our hospitals and Medicaid may be forced to endure budget cuts at the time when we need them most. But this is not the only way. We can stanch the losses by raising revenue through a simple increase in the taxes that multi-millionaires pay. We just need the political will to do it.

Several colleagues and I are working with grassroots activists and advocacy organizations to throw everything we’ve got into this fight to raise revenues. On Sunday I appeared in a virtual press conference with fellow fighters from Citizen Action of NY, Working Families Party, Alliance for Quality Education, Empire State Indivisible, and more to articulate why this additional revenue is so important. I’m grateful to be in this with so many other leaders, both in and outside of government.

If you also feel like now is possibly the worst time to cut back on funding essential services like schools and healthcare, please make your voice heard.

  1. Get in touch with your state legislators and let them know your issues and concerns as far as our state budget is concerned.
  2. Be sure to get in touch with Governor Cuomo to let him know where you stand. We all acknowledge his steady hand during this crisis, but we also need to hold him accountable for our future, a future these cuts would compromise. You can reach the Governor’s Office at 518-474-2300.
  3. If education advocacy moves you, please consider joining the Alliance for Quality Education tonight in writing a post or recording a video that starts with: “If #GovernorAndrewCuomo makes education cuts... [insert your story].” Post your video on your social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) with the hashtag #CantStopWontStop.

LOOKING OUT FOR ONE ANOTHER DURING COVID-19

The numbers of positive cases and deaths keep rising, and I can feel the anxiety rising, too.

My office is open for constituent concerns at our usual phone number of 212.544.0173 and all of us are responding to emails as we work remotely. We’ve fielded hundreds of constituent calls over the past two weeks along. We’re here to support our community during this difficult time.

I also want to make sure you know that my team is curating a comprehensive set of resources that’s easy to navigate at:

covid19.senatorjackson.com

We have updated the Mental Health section to include the full Facebook Live event we held Friday, Mental Health During Coronavirus, as well as some of the resources our panelists wanted to share out. Thanks again to our great panelists and moderators from National Alliance on Mental Illness NYC, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and John Jay College for participating in this important event.

Another way my team and I are helping our community during this difficult time is through jump-starting mutual aid efforts in our district. We have over 170 “pod leaders” who’ve signed up to help coordinate neighbors who can offer support with those who express needs in a given floor, building, or block. We join thousands of other New Yorkers organizing similar networks of mutual aid across the city, networks we’re going to need over the coming months to supplement governmental response to this crisis.

If you want to get involved, fill out the form at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com with 1) your contact info, 2) whether you have capacity to be a pod leader, and 3) what support you can offer and what needs you have. Our office will get you looped in to hyper-local efforts near you!

In Unity,

RJ

p.s. - My colleague Gale Brewer is hosting an important town hall tonight that started 6:30pm called “Meeting Students Needs during COVID-19” that I recommend all parents and guardians tune in for if you’re able!

April 2, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

Today we concluded the budget process in Albany. You can read my statement below. My April 7 Budget Forum will be rescheduled for a later date as a virtual forum. I’ll provide more details soon. After my budget statement, you can read some important updates on the coronavirus situation.

MY BUDGET STATEMENT

The state budget is settled. The budget we passed today is not the budget any of us dreamed about or wanted to bring home to our communities. The fight was already a difficult one before coronavirus showed up and tipped the scales even further away from budget justice. I know that justice delayed is justice denied. It hurts me deeply that we could not do more on so many issues that matter to all our friends, our neighbors, and our children.

As a New Yorker, I will continue to fight to get every dollar of federal aid we need and deserve to get through this crisis—a crisis so much worse than it should be because of the Trump administration’s shamefully slow reaction.

In contrast, our state government pushed through some important items for our families. We put $1 billion more into Unemployment Insurance funds because so many people have lost their jobs. We added $200 million to childcare funding to assist families with workers on the front lines. And we acted so workers in our state at firms of more than four employees could have at least five paid sick leave days from now on.

In the face of the economic disaster unfolding alongside this public health crisis, we were able to maintain some stability where we could not make gains. Every school district in the state will receive the same funding as they did last year. As a parent activist who has advocated for equitable school funding for decades, I know this is not enough to meet the needs of our children, especially in communities of color. And yet, when so much else remains grim and uncertain, school districts now have at least a basis to plan for next year, thanks in large part to the efforts of Senator Schumer at the federal level who obtained $1.13 billion in education funding for New York State.

One small but notable victory comes in the form of $10 million for student mental health counseling that will be so critical moving forward. Another hard-won victory comes in the form of $35 million for the impoverished Rochester School District so the hardworking teachers and school staff can continue to serve this high-needs student population. We also made sure charter schools will not receive the extra funding the Governor assured them, but instead be treated at parity with public schools.

Our state’s hospitals are stretched to the limit in dealing with this crisis. Their gallant efforts come on the heels of a decade of hospital closings and ever-shrinking state aid. We were able to delay many of the Governor’s worst plans for hospitals and health care, including preventing many of his draconian cuts. But once this epidemic ebbs, and fewer federal dollars are coming in, we will again have to fight in Albany to bring resources back to rebuild our tattered public health system and exhausted but heroic healthcare workforce.

Schools and healthcare are two priorities that must get more funding. The Governor’s refusal to call on the state’s 50,000 millionaires and billionaires to pay slightly higher taxes in this budget knee-capped us during negotiations and will set our state back during recovery from this crisis. I commit to making sure the issue of raising more revenue stays on the front burner until our state has a tax system that benefits the many, not the few.

The coronavirus has worsened an already unfavorable balance of power facing legislators and advocates in the budgetary process. At the end of the day, we were not able to accomplish the budget justice we set out to achieve because of electoral politics: the Governor has too much power in the state budget process while we only have a simple majority in the State Senate. But if we can win a super-majority in the legislature this fall, we will be in a position to override his veto threat and score long-term victories in this fight. The power that so many strong grassroots groups and advocacy organizations have built in these difficult times will be crucial. Many of our individual battles are now delayed, but the righteousness of our larger fight for justice cannot be denied. I believe that together we will win.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

As always, the latest coronavirus resources my team and I have collected can be found at covid19.senatorjackson.com.

Here I want to highlight a few recent developments:

  • Today, Mayor De Blasio and Dept. of Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot issued a recommendation that all New Yorkers venturing out of their homes wear face coverings. Please leave specialized masks for healthcare practitioners, but do what you can to follow this guidance as you continue practicing social distancing and good handwashing technique!

  • The NYC Dept of Small Business Services is offering both “Employee Retention Grants” for businesses with 1-4 employees and 0%-interest loans for larger companies. The application deadline for the Retention Grant program is this Friday at 5pm! These programs are not meant to stand alone, but to provide a bridge until federal stimulus money arrives. I remain committed to working with city and state agencies to ensure our small businesses have the resources they need to weather this crisis.

  • Another resource available to Northern Manhattan institutions is a $10 million fund from NewYork-Presbyterian for immediate and long-term recovery of businesses and nonprofits in Northern Manhattan. Apply here today for these grants administered by the Hispanic Federation.

  • The mutual aid efforts in our district are coming into their own. I’m encouraged to see many instances of neighbors pulling together to support one another. If you’d like to get involved in the efforts my office is helping to jump-start, please sign up at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com. That is also the form you should use if you are in need of support during this time.

In Unity,

RJ

April 8, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

This update is focused on resources for our community during COVID-19. From unemployment to senior meal deliveries, my office is coordinating the latest information so you can find the resources you need to support yourself and your family. Please see below for some of the updates we’ve received recently. I also want to wish my observant Jewish neighbors Good Pesach and wish my observant Christian neighbors a blessed Good Friday and Happy Easter. These are difficult times, but I hope people of these faiths can find some comfort in the holidays this year in spite of all that’s going on.

COVID-19 UPDATES

It seems like the growth of new cases may be leveling off in New York City and State, but deaths continue to rise from COVID-19. Majority-minority districts like mine got confirmation today of what we already knew was happening: our black and brown neighbors are dying at far higher rates because this crisis exacerbates long-standing health disparities. If anything, this crisis has redoubled my resolve to fight for healthcare as a human right and help pass the New York Health Act.

  • If you have had coronavirus symptoms and self-isolation, please visit the NYC COVID-19 Engagement Portal to self-report data that will be crucial to evaluating where we go next in this public health crisis.

  • Please be advised that the Governor Cuomo has increased the maximum fine for violations of the state’s social distancing protocol from $500 to $1,000 to help address the lack of adherence to social distancing protocols.

  • The Governor also announced that the federal government has granted his request to allow COVID-19 patients to be treated on the USNS Comfort, the naval ship currently docked in my district. The approval will provide an additional 500 beds, staffed by federal personnel, to care for COVID-19 patients in New York.

COMMUNITY RESOURCES

As always, please see covid19.senatorjackson.com for the latest resources my team and I have collected. If you have updates or changes, reply to this email. Here are some resources I wanted to highlight today:

Sexual and reproductive healthcare

Planned Parenthood’s Project Street Beat Mobile Health Center Team is continuing to provide care during COVID while they follow public health guidelines to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

They’ll be at 181st St. and St. Nicholas Ave. for urgent needs on Friday, April 10 and Wednesday, April 15 from 10am to 6pm to offer the following services:

  • Birth Control—IUD, Implant, Injection, Pill, Patch, Ring

  • Emergency Contraception

  • Pregnancy Testing

  • Medication Abortion (starting 4/6/20)

  • STI Testing and Treatment

  • UTI Treatment

  • HIV Testing and Linkage to Care

  • PrEP/PEP- HIV Prevention Medications

  • Gynecologic Services

  • Pap Smears

  • Breast Exams

  • Narcan

  • Syringes and Safe Injection Supplies

For non-urgent visits, you can call 1-855-778-2328 (9am–5pm) to schedule a remote telehealth visit. Nurses Alice and Sarah will address all non-urgent needs over the phone.

Unemployment Insurance (UI) applications

My office has received hundreds of calls from the 100,000s of New Yorkers who are applying for UI right now, many for the first time. It’s a daunting process. We’re here to help however we can.

My staff and I have been on the phone with the Governor’s Office every afternoon and frequently raise the problems with the UI system. Our advocacy has gotten important guidance, increased staffing of the phones, and now a redesign of the UI website and a forthcoming reduction in the number of cases who need to call to finish the process.

If you’re stuck in the application process, it’s important to know that all benefits will be back-dated to the day you were let go if you have termination paperwork or the day you began their online application if you don’t.

If you’re unable to put food on the table or meet other basic expenses, please feel free to get in touch with my office for an intake so we can see what services might be able to help until you get your first check.

Senior Food Deliveries

NYC’s Department for the Aging (DFTA) has moved to centralize preparation and home delivery of meals for seniors who are used to eating at their local Senior Center. If you need delivery and are not yet receiving it, call your Senior Center or DFTA at 212.244.6469 to sign up.

Unfortunately, the transition to home delivery does not appear to have gone smoothly, and our seniors are suffering for it. If you or a loved one are experiencing difficulties with these meal deliveries, please let my office know. We’re in close contact with senior centers in my district to provide additional support.

Mental Health through Headspace

New York State is partnering with Headspace to offer free meditation and mindfulness content for all New Yorkers as a mental health resource for residents coping with the unprecedented public health crisis. You can access a collection of science-backed, evidence-based guided meditations, along with at-home mindful workouts, sleep and kids content to help address rising stress and anxiety at www.headspace.com/ny.

In Unity,

RJ

April 13, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

A few updates at the clear close of this rainy Monday. First, some good news: Late last week, after seeing Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s impressive 100% Census 2020 participation rate among her staff, I checked in with my own amazing team. My team also has 100% participation in the census! Take a moment to text a friend or coworker and make sure they’ve completed this important task: 10 questions that take less than 10 minutes and affect the next 10 years of our great city and state.

Read on for a few other important updates regarding our lives in COVID-19. My office remains open and in the service of our constituents. If you need support, especially navigating the government response to the crisis, please give us a call at 212.544.0173.

ABSENTEE BALLOTS

All primaries have been consolidated to June 23 for New York State. Because it’s unclear whether it will be safe for people to vote in person, I’m recommending everyone apply for an absentee ballot now that the Governor has made it possible for all to request by selecting “temporary illness” as your reason.

Currently, you can only request an absentee ballot by mailing in the application. I’ve introduced legislation that would allow you to request a ballot online, but until we pass that legislation and it becomes law you need to print out an application here. If you’re a constituent of mine, mail the completed form back to:

New York County Board of Elections

200 Varick Street - 10th Floor

New York, NY 10014

EDUCATION SURVEY

Thanks to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) for putting together this anonymous education survey to better understand what issues our school communities are facing during this time of remote learning. Please fill it out and share it with all the other school community members you know!

TIPPED WORKERS

Workers all across New York State are facing increasing economic precarity that lays bare the vulnerabilities of our system before the pandemic. On Thursday I was honored to participate in a virtual forum with the One Fair Wage (OFW) campaign who have been fighting for tipped worker wage parity and elimination of the sub-minimum wage in New York State and across the country. I learned about how the sub-minimum wage is affecting tipped workers as they try to apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) because it excludes tips from their official wages, artificially depressing the amount they can claim from UI.

Through a generous donation and some intense grassroots organizing, One Fair Wage has made it possible for tipped workers to receive an additional $500 to supplement unemployment shortfalls. You can learn more at https://ofwemergencyfund.org/.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (UI) APPLICATIONS

Over the weekend, the Department of Labor (DOL) rebuilt their unemployment insurance application systems to better handle the massive increase in filings due to the coronavirus crisis. My office has heard, on the whole, positive results from the new system. People are receiving calls back and stalled claims are being processed. Some advice for those of you still struggling to complete the process:

  • If you have a pending application that was completed before last week, please wait to receive a call from a DOL representative. If you do not receive one by close-of-business on Tuesday, you can get back in touch with my office Wednesday and we’ll see what we can do.

*There is confusion surrounding the call-back methods of DOL representatives. Please see the below tweets from the DOL about the way some calls may show up on your cell phone.

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Additionally, my office has learned that DOL reps will identify themselves by confirming the date you completed your claim and the method by which you completed it. If you do not receive this information at the beginning of the call, hang up and let my office know because it may be a scam.*

  • If you were not able to complete your online application before the new system was put in place, try to resubmit your application from scratch.

  • If you’re stuck in the application process, it’s important to know that all benefits will be back-dated to the day you were let go if you have termination paperwork or the day you began their online application if you don’t.

  • If you’re unable to put food on the table or meet other basic expenses, please feel free to get in touch with my office for an intake so we can see what services might be able to help until you get your first check. Keep in mind it can take 2–3 weeks for the first check to arrive after your application is approved.

COMMUNITY RESOURCES

My team and I continue to keep track of community resources that come online as this crisis continues. As always, you can find the latest at

covid19.senatorjackson.com

One resource I want to be sure to highlight is NMIC’s suite of hotlines. If you need support with your benefits, unemployment, immigration, or housing concerns, please reach out to NMIC!

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If you cannot go out to get food and are unable to afford grocery delivery, please consider filling out this form for NYC Food Delivery Assistance. This system is very new and has had numerous hiccups, but I am hearing it’s smoothing out with time. Contact my office if you have trouble.

A brief reminder that Planned Parenthood’s Project Street Beat Mobile Health Center Team is continuing to provide care during COVID while they follow public health guidelines to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. They’ll be at 181st St. and St. Nicholas Ave. for urgent needs on Wednesday, April 15 from 10am to 6pm to offer a range of reproductive health services. For non-urgent visits, you can call 1-855-778-2328 (9am–5pm) to schedule a remote telehealth visit. Nurses Alice and Sarah will address all non-urgent needs over the phone.

Last and maybe most inspiring, the mutual aid efforts in our district are going really well. I hear stories of people pulling together from all over. If you’d like to get involved in the efforts my office is helping to jump-start, please sign up at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com.

That is also the form you should use if you are in need of support during this time. I want to encourage anyone who’s in need of help to reach out, either through the mutual aid form or hotline or directly to my office. We New Yorkers have to know when to ask for support.

In Unity,

RJ

April 16, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

Today’s update focuses on some upcoming events and updates on social services and community resources. Next week I’ll write more on the legislation I’m sponsoring and co-sponsoring.

STANDING UP FOR WORKERS’ RIGHTS

Recently, I’ve continued getting connected with front-line workers in my district who are struggling to improve their working conditions. Last week I spoke to tipped workers with Restaurant Opportunity Center and One Fair Wage. I had a sobering conversation with nurses at hospitals in my district on Tuesday about the challenges they face. And today I’m supporting the residential workers at the Chamberlain who are striking for fair wages, benefits, PPE, and the right to work free from harassment. I stand with all our front-line workers during this crisis and encourage you to reach out to my office if you feel your voices aren’t being heard.

FEDERAL STIMULUS CHECK

As a part of Congressional relief efforts, many of us will be receiving federal stimulus payments over the coming weeks. Many of you who filed taxes in 2019 or 2018 will receive direct deposits to the accounts you used most recently for tax filing. My office has compiled some helpful information:

Who’s eligible?

U.S. residents will receive $1,200 for individuals or head of household filers; married filing jointly will receive $2,400.

Eligible retirees, recipients of Social Security, disability, or veterans’ benefits who do not make money to file tax returns will receive a payment.

U.S. residents who have no income, or those whose income comes entirely from benefit programs such as SSI benefits will receive a payment.

Eligible U.S. residents will receive their payment as well as an additional payment of $500 per qualifying child.

Who’s ineligible

Taxpayers won’t qualify for an Economic Impact Payment if any of the following apply:

  • Your adjusted gross income (AGI) is greater than:

    • $99,000 if your filing status was single or married filing separately.

    • $136,500 for head of household.

    • $198,000 if your filing status was married filing jointly.

  • You can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return.

  • You do not have a valid Social Security number.

  • You are a nonresident alien.

  • You filed Form 1040-NR, Form 1040NR-EZ, Form 1040-PR, or Form 1040-SS for 2019.

Do you need to take action?

Low income workers (under $12,200; for a married couple, under $24,400), certain veterans, and individuals with disabilities who are not required to file a tax return can check IRS.gov tool Do I Need to File Tax Return? to see if there is a filing requirement.

If you are not required to file a tax return, you have to fill out a form for non-filers in order to receive your check.

Beware of Loopholes & Scams

For-profit tax company Intuit has designed tools to get people who could file for free to pay for their software to claim their stimulus payment. If you make under $69,000, you are eligible to Free File and I would encourage you to pursue this option. Please note the deadline for federal and state taxes has been postponed to July 15.

Because of a loophole in the federal legislation, banks are able to garnish portions of stimulus checks for payment of private debts and loans. At the moment, nothing can be done about this loophole, but I am encouraging our legislative partners at the federal level to close this loophole in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation.

Keep in mind that the IRS will not call, text, email, or contact taxpayers via social media asking for personal or bank account information. Please watch out for emails with attachments or links that claim to have special information about the economic impact payments or refunds. These may be scams!

*For Undocumented Immigrants* — the Mayor’s Office announced this afternoon that $20 million will be available for $400–$1,000 disbursements to undocumented individuals and families in NYC. When we have more information about which organizations in my district will handle these payments, I’ll be sure to communicate that to you.

UPCOMING EVENTS

This is not really an “event” per se, but Governor Cuomo has today extended the “NYS on PAUSE” order till May 15. Please be advised.

Community Board 4 & Housing Conservation Coordinators will host a Virtual Forum "Tenant Protection & Housing Security during COVID19 Pandemic" on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 at 6:30pm where I will be a panelist with other elected public officials. Anyone interested in participating in the Video/Phone Conference must register.

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COMMUNITY RESOURCES

My team and I continue to keep track of community resources that come online as this crisis continues. As always, you can find the latest at

covid19.senatorjackson.com

A few additional resources to highlight today:

I came across a flyer for a 117-unit affordable housing development for very low income families called St. Nicholas Manor at 680 St. Nicholas Avenue. You can request an application by writing to Fairstead Management, 560 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY 10037. Completed applications must be received by May 15, 2020.

Legal Services NYC’s Access Line is up and running. People can call them M–F 10am–4pm at 917-661-4500 for legal consults about issues from housing and bankruptcy to immigration and unemployment:

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Community Service Society has some excellent hotlines to help constituents navigate complicated systems of healthcare and finances:

For help enrolling in health insurance, contact their Navigator Network at 888.614.5401 or enroll@cssny.org

For help understanding and using your existing health insurance, contact their Community Health Advocates at 888.614.5401 or cha@cssny.org.

For help with long-term care or behavioral health services through a managed care plan, contact their Independent Consumer Advocacy Network at 888.614.8000 or ican@cssny.org.

For help with managed care plans, contact their Managed Care Consumer Assistance Program at 888.614.5400

For guidance on student loans, contact their Education Debt Consumer Assistance Program at 888.614.5004 or edcap@cssny.org.

For money management and financial tips, contact their Financial Coaching Corps at cdavis@cssny.org.

For help correcting and/or sealing criminal records, contact their Next Door Project at 212.614.5441 or cjesse@cssny.org.

Community League of the Heights (CLOTH) has expanded their food pantry capacity in response to the current public health crisis. The Mutual Aid network my office has helped jump-start has proven to be a great source of extra volunteers for them, and they can use even more! If you’re able to help out with full confidence in your health and ability to take necessary precautions, click this link to sign up for your time(s) to volunteer

Schedule: Tuesday + Thursday 11am–3pm

Responsibilities

- packing bags of food, organizing bags in a van

- riding in van with staff

- delivering bags of food to recipients' homes/apartments

^^ This will involve carrying the bags and using the stairs. Food will be left outside of recipients' door (social distancing)

Gloves and face masks will be provided. Rules of engagement will be provided upon arrival and 6 feet of social distancing will be practiced.

I’ll close with a reminder: if you’d like to get involved in the efforts my office is helping to jump-start, please sign up at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com.

That is also the form you should use if you are in need of support during this time. I want to encourage anyone who’s in need of help to reach out, either through the mutual aid form or hotline or directly to my office.

In Unity,

RJ

April 21, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

I hope you are all staying safe and healthy. Lots of updates to share with you today, so read on for more information.

THE FIGHT AHEAD: A VIRTUAL CONVERSATION WITH 8 SENATORS

My office and I have organized a conversation with 7 of my progressive colleagues in the Senate on where we go from here. In advance of the first wave of cuts Governor Cuomo plans to propose at the end of April, advocates across the state are looking to the legislature to provide the way forward. My colleagues and I want to share our thoughts on what that way forward. (Hint: it includes passing bills, raising revenue, halting austerity, and canceling rent!) We also want to hear your thoughts and questions.

Join us on Wednesday, April 29 on Facebook Live, time TBD. Stay tuned for an event link, as well as a form through which you can submit questions in advance.

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#SaveSYEP

Today I joined a press conference with nearly 100 participants who are all dedicated to stopping Mayor De Blasio’s proposal to cut the Summer Youth Employment Program this summer and next. I’m proud to have fought to the max for SYEP for almost two decades, especially during my time as former Chair of the Education Committee in the City Council and co-chair of the Black Latino and Asian Caucus.

I know so many young leaders in our city who got their start in SYEP, including myself and my Chief of Staff, Johanna Garcia! I also had the pleasure of once again working with SYEP participants in my office last summer. These five amazing young people contributed so much to my team—they also learned valuable skills in research and writing, office culture, event planning, and civic engagement.

I am very much looking forward to having SYEP participants working with my office once again, whether we’re remote or in-person.

The Summer Youth Employment Program is going to be more important this summer than ever before:

  • Our youth need structure and opportunity after 3+ months of distance learning

  • Our food banks and community-based organizations and elected public officials’ offices will be working in overdrive as the city faces the economic fallout from this pandemic and we will need support!

  • SYEP is an investment in our collective future: the future of our children, the future of our communities, and the future of our city. I say to you, Mr. Mayor: SAVE SYEP!

COMMUNITY UPDATES

Earth Day 50 happens tomorrow. I’m heartbroken we won’t be able to march in the streets together for the climate justice our communities so desperately need. In light of the public health emergency, I encourage you to look at earthweeknyc.com for a winning coalition’s ideas on how to mark this important historical moment:

https://www.earthweeknyc.com/

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Yesterday afternoon, SOMOS Community Care and Governor Cuomo opened a new center for COVID-19 swab testing at Centro Médico Dominicano (2360 Amsterdam Ave M1). Testing is available Monday-Friday, 8:30am–4pm BY APPOINTMENT ONLY: call (888) 364-3065 to book a visit.

Important news from the IRS: While SSI recipients do not need to file to receive their $1200 stimulus checks, they DO need to use a special non-filer form [https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here] to claim $500 per eligible child by tomorrow at noon.

I’m very glad to see that NY Attorney General Tish James has taken action to prevent banks, creditors, and debt collectors from garnishing portions of our stimulus checks for their own enrichment. See her guidance released yesterday.

The Attorney General and Manhattan District Attorney have both provided important resources to constituents to report scams related to COVID-19. Please be diligent in filing a report if you or someone you know has experienced a coronavirus-related scam.

Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that the state is launching a new partnership with Ready Responders to bring COVID-19 diagnostic testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) to residents of NYCHA. I am proud to assist in the delivery of these supplies to several of our NYCHA developments in the coming days.

I’ve been hearing that remote learning has been hard on our students. In response to those concerns, DOE has issued an anonymous Remote Learning Survey that I encourage all our students and their families to fill out before May 1.

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NYC Census is seeking for volunteers for Census Day of Action/Hustle Texting on Thursday, April 23, from 10am to 8pm. You will be able to reach hundreds of New Yorkers within minutes with a text encouraging them to fill out the census and providing the link to the Census Bureau’s self-response website.

Goddard Riverside Community Center has set up a relief fund to support local families with emergency needs at their Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center in my district. Contributions will be directed towards families in need of food, medical supplies, and transportation due to COVID-19. Give what you can.

Another reminder that, if you’d like to get involved in the mutual aid efforts my office is helping to jump-start, please sign up at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com.

That is also the form you should use if you are in need of support during this time. I want to encourage anyone who’s in need of help to reach out, either through the mutual aid form or hotline or directly to my office. We New Yorkers have to know when to ask for support.

In Unity,

RJ

April 24, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

Today is the first day of Ramadan. I want to wish everyone who observes a safe and healthy fast. Many of us already have been forced to turn inward during this time of introspection, but Ramadan is also about maintaining connection. If you can this weekend, reach out to someone you’ve wanted to check up on and tell them you’re thinking of them!

In this email I’ll offer some thoughts about NYCHA and more details on the town hall I’m having with seven of my freshman colleagues next Wednesday, along with community updates.

NYCHA PPE DELIVERIES

Today I was proud to deliver PPE and sanitizer to several of our NYCHA developments. Many of these buildings house older residents who live in close quarters, so I’ve been especially troubled by the slow response to get these resources to them and am happy to lend myself and my staff to help the distribution effort. It also prompted some reflections on NYCHA I wanted to share with you.

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The precarious state of our public housing system is one of the many vulnerabilities in our society that already existed but that COVID-19 has brought into stark relief. Our mistreatment of these developments over the years is an indictment of our neglect of working class people and people of color as a society. The lack of PPE for these developments is just the latest manifestation.

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At the same time, it is a reminder that we already have a model that provides housing that meets people’s economic needs even in crisis—because public housing residents’ rent is tied to their income, many are insulated from the crushing joblessness sweeping our city because their rents will adjust downward. We need more of this, and we have to take better care of these existing developments.

THE FIGHT AHEAD: A VIRTUAL CONVERSATION ON NY’S COVID-19 RESPONSE

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Join me and seven of my freshman progressive colleagues in the Senate—Alessandra Biaggi, Andrew Gounardes, Jessica Ramos, John Liu, Julia Salazar, Rachel May, and Zellnor Myrie—for a virtual town hall at 5:30pm Wednesday, April 29. We will be looking toward the rest of the legislative session to discuss bills that need to be passed in order to:

  • raise revenues

  • prevent drastic cuts to essential social services

  • relieve the pressure tenants currently face

and more! You can submit questions in advance here, and the link to view live will be available on my Facebook page at 5:30 next Wednesday.

COMMUNITY UPDATES

Governor Cuomo announced today that all registered voters in New York will receive a prepaid envelope with an application for an absentee ballot. This addresses some of the concerns that led me to introduce legistlation to allow for online applications for absentee ballots. Polls will still be open on June 23, but this move will allow anyone who feels the need to receive a ballot at home to do so. I remain concerned about my most vulnerable constituents’ ability to safely return the absentee ballot application and the ballot itself while this pandemic continues; my team and I are strategizing ways to prioritize both safety and access to the ballot

Earlier this week, SOMOS Community Care and Governor Cuomo opened a new center for COVID-19 swab testing at Centro Médico Dominicano (2360 Amsterdam Ave M1). Testing is available Monday-Friday, 8:30am–4pm. Misinformation continues to circulate in our community, so I want to be clear. This clinic is BY APPOINTMENT ONLY: call (888) 364-3065 to book a visit. When you’ve made an appointment come prepared to socially distance with your mask on.

Unemployment Insurance (UI) continues to be a problem for many of my constituents. My office has identified the greatest difficulty for constituents with substantial freelance or independent contractor income who applied before the major redesign of the UI website on April 8 and/or before the application for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) was merged into the UI application interface on April 20. If your application says “pending” and you have not received a call from the Department of Labor, fill out this form and we can attempt to escalate your case.

A couple additional notes for UI applicants:

  1. If you’re claiming—regardless of whether you’re receiving checks yet—and have not earned any money in a given week during your claim process, you must select “N/A” in response to the question regarding whether you earned more than $502 in that period. Selecting “No” will make the system think you have earned something and may negatively impact your weekly payment amount and delivery time.

  2. When completing your benefits claim, you will be asked whether you are able to work. We understand that many of you are unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you would otherwise be able to work, you should answer 'YES' in order to receive your benefits.

Please pass along the word to any families you know whose kids don’t have access to tech for remote learning: The Department of Education still has internet-connected devices for families in need! Families that want to request a device should call 718-935-5100 (Option 5 on the menu) for help getting a device. Priority will be given to students most in need.

Mayor de Blasio announced on Wednesday that all NYCHA senior buildings will be enrolled in the food delivery program over the coming weeks. If you are having difficulty accessing the GetFoodNYC program or received a delivery that did not meet your needs, please let my office know.

A reminder that Community League of the Heights has expanded their food pantry capacity in response to the current public health crisis and they can use even more volunteers! If you’re able to help out with full confidence in your health and ability to take necessary precautions, follow this link to sign up for your time(s) to volunteer [https://doodle.com/poll/k785zexq38swrnpv]

Another reminder that, if you’d like to get involved in the mutual aid efforts my office is helping to jump-start, please sign up at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com.

That is also the form you should use if you are in need of support during this time. I want to encourage anyone who’s in need of help to reach out, either through the mutual aid form or hotline or directly to my office. We New Yorkers have to know when to ask for support.

In Unity,

RJ

May 1, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

The fight continues. This afternoon I have updates that include good and bad local news, a climate justice event next week, and some community resources.

MY COMMITMENT TO RENT RELIEF
Earlier this week, I held a town hall with 7 of my progressive freshman colleagues in the Senate. You can view The Fight Ahead here. Around 48:00 I speak about rent relief bills on the table. Today I’ve released a letter to all tenants in my district reaffirming my commitment to providing rent relief through legislative action now. I’ve reproduced it here for you to read.

NEW COVID-19 TESTING SITE OPENS IN INWOOD
I want to thank NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYC Health + Hospitals, and Mayor Bill de Blasio for opening a new coronavirus testing site in Inwood. The ability to test patients for COVID-19 at Clínica de las Américas at 178 Nagle Avenue is an important step toward correcting the devastating disparities we have seen in this crisis. The ZIP codes of Northern Manhattan I represent have been among the hardest-hit by COVID-19. Even before the data confirmed it, we knew our communities were suffering disproportionately. Since that time, I have been saying that the only way to turn around those outcomes is to provide more access to testing and more public health infrastructure in general. I’m grateful to the State for opening a site in Washington Heights last week and to the City for responding to this call by providing the additional testing location in Inwood that’s opening today.

You can make an appointment for a COVID-19 test at 175 Nagle Ave. by calling NYC Health + Hospitals at 1-844-NYC-4NYC.

NEWS FROM ISABELLA GERIATRIC CENTER
Our nursing homes do the difficult but crucial work of caring day in and day out for many of our elders, who are among the most vulnerable members of our society to COVID-19. Last night, the media reported a death toll at Isabella Geriatric Center that far exceeds the toll the Governor’s Office has reported for this particular facility. My office has been in touch with Isabella and parent company MJHS since this crisis began to ensure they had the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) they needed to keep staff and residents as safe as possible. We had heard higher numbers from MJHS earlier this week than those reported by the State. The reality appears to be graver still.

While I am troubled by the lack of clear communication around the extent of the toll COVID-19 has taken on Isabella residents, it has become clear to me that blame for these deaths cannot be laid solely at the feet of this institution. Indeed, non-profit nursing homes have taken on the task of caring for some of the most marginalized, most forgotten members of our society in the most trying times we have ever lived through. They have done so without a plan, without resources, and without acknowledgment until very recently that they are, in fact, on the front lines. As a government, we can and must do better by them.

Let me be clear in what I am calling for. First, the Governor must immediately establish a new system of reporting for all nursing home facilities that accounts for the privacy of residents and the need for greater transparency to families and the general public; the situation at Isabella demonstrates the current system is clearly broken—unable to account for deaths in the hospital, as well as suspected deaths that were never confirmed due to a lack of testing capacity. We knew from the moment the virus tore through the Kirkland, WA nursing home that this would be the key point of vulnerability in our healthcare system, but New York’s directives have not reflected that understanding.

Second, staff at Isabella and other non-profit nursing homes must be incorporated into the State and City systems of PPE acquisition and distribution that currently includes hospitals and other healthcare facilities. My office and the offices of other elected public officials encountered far too much difficulty helping MJHS navigate the bureaucracy before they got connected to reliable sources of life-saving PPE.

Third, these facilities must be considered priorities for both diagnostic and antibody testing. The stakes are too high for families not to know exactly how the virus has moved through the facilities where their loved ones live. Public health experts have been clear from the start: accurate data points are crucial to making progress in this fight.

Finally, we need to roll back any cuts to non-profit nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that are set to take effect when the state emergency concludes. These facilities will remain vulnerable to COVID-19 long after the emergency officially ends. They cannot endure further cuts that already left them in such a vulnerable place before this crisis.

I extend heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost beloved elders.

MAY 6 CLIMATE JUSTICE EVENT
Join me, Senator Benjamin, and leading uptown environmental justice advocates on May 6th at 12pm-1pm for a lunch time town hall to discuss the intersection between the Covid-19 crisis, the climate crisis, and environmental injustice. There will be a Q&A. RSVP here for the Zoom link. Let’s plan together for a just recovery and a just transition!

COMMUNITY RESOURCES
May is Mental Health Month! We have to take care of our mental health as much as our physical health during these difficult times. If you’re looking for support, check out the Mental Health section in the resource guide my staff and I are compiling at

covid19.senatorjackson.com.

Many of those resources come from the Mental Health During Coronavirus event we held virtually in late March with leading community advocates.

Streets near two parks will be closed starting Monday as part of the City’s Open Streets program.

  • Margaret Corbin Drive (near Ft. Tryon Park)
  • Laurel Hill Terrace (near Highbridge Park)

More to come!

Free masks will be distributed in three parks in my district:

  • Sunday, March 3, 2–4pm in J. Hood Wright Park
  • Tuesday, March 5, 10am–noon Highbridge Park Recreation Center
  • Tuesday, March 5, 10am–noon in De Witt Clinton Park

Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio are finally on the same page regarding NYC schools: All K-12 education in NYC will remain remote through the end of the school year in June. An announcement will be made at the end of May regarding summer programming.

Today is the last day to fill out the DOE’s anonymous Remote Learning Survey that I encourage all our students and their families to complete.

Both SNAP and WIC benefits refill today. Food Czar Kathryn Garcia asked me to pass along a message: if you are able to pay by cash or credit card, please consider holding off on your grocery trip until Sunday or Monday to give those who rely on benefits right now a chance to purchase the food they need.

Another reminder that, if you’d like to get involved in the mutual aid efforts my office is helping to jump-start, please sign up at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com.

That is also the form you should use if you are in need of support during this time. I want to encourage anyone who’s in need of help to reach out, either through the mutual aid form or hotline or directly to my office. We New Yorkers have to know when to ask for support.

In Unity,
RJ

May 7, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,
 
In this update I’ll let you know where things stand legislatively, show how we can honor our teachers and nurses, and provide local updates including antibody testing opening next week in my district.
 
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
We legislators must get back to work. There are so many things that need our legislative attention right now during this crisis. We need to provide rent relief, we need to raise revenue, we need to halt austerity. I’m eager to pass a wealth tax on millionaires and billionaires to help fund social services of healthcare and education. I’m eager to ensure that workers right now who are having trouble accessing unemployment benefits because they lack the status of “employee” are reclassified and given access to rights going forward. There is, quite frankly, so much to do.
 
I’m a member of the COVID-19 housing working group and have some close colleagues serving on the COVID-19 revenue working group. The goal is that we will go “back” to session virtually to vote on a package of bills that address the issues and concerns around the coronavirus and its effects on the lives of working people in our districts. As I hear more, I’ll keep you posted.
 
APPRECIATION WEEK FOR NURSES AND TEACHERS
International Nurses Day was yesterday, May 6, and kicks off National Nurses Week. Follow the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) for ways you can support nurses every day for a week. Today is calling your US Senators at 1-888-981-9704 to advocate for federal aid to states and localities—a worthwhile call!!

It also happens to be TEACHER appreciation week. One of the most meaningful gestures you can do to honor a teacher in your life right now is to reach out with an email to say thank you. #ThankATeacher

COMMUNITY UPDATES
Widespread antibody testing will begin next week in 5 locations across New York City. Manhattan’s location is in my district: 21 Old Broadway. Tomorrow, as soon as I have it, I’ll send along the phone number to reserve an appointment on my social media accounts (@SenatorRJackson). Priority will be given for local communities, and 1,000 tests will be administered each day.

Face Coverings will be available for free in (or near) my district at the following dates and times:

  • Friday (5/8), 10am–noon: Col. Young Park, West 145th St. and Malcolm X Blvd.
  • Friday (5/8), 10am–noon: Morningside Park, Morningside Ave. and West 114th St.
  • Friday (5/8), 2 - 4 pm: DeWitt Clinton Park, Field House in Park off West 52nd St. between 11th Ave and 12th Ave.
  • Saturday (5/9), 10am–noon: Highbridge Park Recreation Center.
  • Sunday (5/10), 2–4pm: Inwood Hill Park, 218th St. and Indian Rd.

For additional locations and times, see this map.

The YM/YWHA of Inwood & Washington Heights (the Y), has been given funding by generous donors for emergency relief distribution in the neighborhood. If you or anyone else you know is in need of:

  • Emergency food
  • Home delivered meals for older adults
  • Emergency cash assistance for people who have been laid off or furloughed due to the coronavirus outbreak
  • Child care for the children of first responders, healthcare providers, transit workers, and other eligible essential personnel
  • Mental health counseling
  • Medical care
  • Transportation to critical medical appointments
  • Companionship for older adults
  • Case assistance and crisis management (SNAP, SCRIE, HEAP, Medicare and Medicaid, and other benefit enrollment)
  • Application assistance with Coronavirus Financial Impact Loan with the Hebrew Free Loan Society
  • Financial counseling
  • Navigating the unemployment process

Please fill out this form.
(If you are a Spanish-dominant constituent in the neighborhood seeking assistance, call my office and we can help you get connected to this resource!)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-NYC) has a couple great webinars left during Mental Health Awareness Month:

I got word from my colleague Gale Brewer that Spectrum has extended their free 60-day internet connection offer for educator and student households through to June 30. If you encounter a shut-off of internet for non-payment issues, please reach out to my office for support.

I’m excited about Let’s Learn NYC!, a new program with DOE and Channel 13 that began earlier this week. It features lessons for students 3K through 2nd Grade and airs every weekday at 11am with episodes online on-demand.

On May 15 at 1pm, join Sinergia for a webinar with autism advocates on Meeting the Sensory Needs of Children at Home. You can RSVP here.

Next Tuesday, May 12, 6–8pm I’ll be on a panel with the rest of my colleagues who deal with NYC Education in the Senate, hosted by our chair, Senator John Liu. We hope to gather feedback from school communities about the impact of COVID-19 on NYC Schools. Sign up in advance here.

In Unity,
RJ

May 15, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

I hope this update finds you well. In addition to the latest community resources, I’ll be offering you a recap of my activities this week, information about an upcoming hearing, an update on unemployment insurance, and details for a food program my office will be starting up next week. Read on for more.

A BUSY WEEK WITH LABOR AND HOUSING
This week I had several meetings with labor leaders to discuss two things. First, I spoke about moving forward on raising revenues in New York State by taxing the wealthy. It’s unconscionable that Governor Cuomo would sooner cut vital social services like education and healthcare before asking our state’s millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. We aim to change that.

I also spoke about reclassifying as “employees” workers who are currently misclassified as “independent contractors.” In fact, I was honored to open up the Cornell Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) School’s webinar on Gig Worker Policy in New York State during the Coronavirus and Beyond yesterday afternoon. My bill S6699, the Expanding Worker Dignity Act, aims to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of working families across New York State. Workers like home health aides, nail salon workers, app-based drivers, and more deserve to have full labor rights, and this bill will make it happen.

It’s even more important now that our unemployment system has revealed the consequences of misclassification, with hundreds of thousands of workers having to go through extra hoops to qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, itself a program created to patch over our broken classification system.

Last night, I participated in a statewide town hall with the Housing Justice for All coalition, where I reiterated my commitment to meaningful rent and mortgage relief and joined in condemning landlord harassment of tenants who can’t afford rent because of coronavirus. The COVID-19 Housing Working Group in the Senate is wrapping up our work, so I’ll write more about the legislation we’ll recommend shortly.

LEGISLATIVE HEARING ON COVID-19 IMPACTS ON MINORITY COMMUNITIES
On Monday at 10am I will be chairing a joint hearing with Senate and Assembly leaders called “Exploring solutions to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minority communities.” It’s going to be a marathon, but I’m no stranger to those. I wanted to share some thoughts in advance.
 
This feels like too large a topic to cover even in what might be a 12-hour hearing. We could—and should—spend a week, 2 weeks, a month on the disparate impact of COVID-19 in our communities of color. But we have to balance the need for information with the need for action. Some of you might say, “Why even have a hearing? We already know what’s happened.” True. We’ve all heard the numbers, and many of us legislators have experienced this disparate impact in our districts. But hearings like this one are about distilling action items from those numbers and experiences.
 
This hearing will put both houses on the same page about what has happened, where things went wrong, and what we can do to support our minority communities in their healing. This hearing is also an opportunity for constituents to participate in the work we’re doing. It will be broadcast live, and I’ll be tweeting updates. Amplify what matters most and keep up the pressure on all of us to act on those issues and concerns.

FOOD PROGRAM STARTING SOON
My office is working with several partners in the community to coordinate a sustainable food bank to supplement the work of other excellent organizations addressing food insecurity uptown. I’ll write with more details early next week, but I wanted to let you know that this is in the wings right now. See below for existing opportunities to volunteer at the amazing CLOTH food pantry in the meantime!

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
This morning, my colleagues and I in the Senate had the chance to speak frankly and openly with the Department of Labor (DOL) Commissioner Roberta Reardon about the challenges many of you have faced when applying for unemployment benefits. Things are improving for many, and DOL is processing through the backlog of many cases we have escalated to them.

If you’re a new applicant, please watch this basic video from Commissioner Reardon. It’s very informative.

If you’ve applied more than two weeks ago and have neither seen a change in your status nor received a call from DOL, you can flag your case for my office by filling out this form. We’ll get in touch within three business days if there are any further questions we have, and we escalate cases to the Governor’s Office for urgent attention twice weekly.

COMMUNITY UPDATES
A reminder that all the resources my staff and I come across are sorted and logged in our Coronavirus Resource Guide that you can view at:

covid19.senatorjackson.com.

If you’re going out to enjoy the nice weather this weekend, don’t forget to maintain 6 feet of separation from people who aren’t in your household and to wear a mask or other form of face covering. As the weather turns toward summer, we have to stay vigilant so we keep our communities safe from another spike in COVID-19 cases.

Also, beware of the symptoms of Pediatric Multi-System Inflamatory Syndrome below and call your pediatrician if you notice them in your child.

The City’s COVID-19 testing clinic at Dyckman and Nagle is available for walk-ins Monday thru Friday, 9am–3:30pm.

The link for the Y of Washington Heights and Inwood's community support form was broken. My apologies! The Y has been given funding by generous donors for emergency relief distribution in the neighborhood. If you or anyone else you know is in need of:

  • Emergency food
  • Home delivered meals for older adults
  • Emergency cash assistance for people who have been laid off or furloughed due to the coronavirus outbreak
  • Child care for the children of first responders, healthcare providers, transit workers, and other eligible essential personnel
  • Mental health counseling
  • Medical care
  • Transportation to critical medical appointments
  • Companionship for older adults
  • Case assistance and crisis management (SNAP, SCRIE, HEAP, Medicare and Medicaid, and other benefit enrollment)
  • Application assistance with Coronavirus Financial Impact Loan with the Hebrew Free Loan Society
  • Financial counseling
  • Navigating the unemployment process

Please fill out THIS form.
(If you are a Spanish-dominant constituent in the neighborhood seeking assistance, call my office and we can help you get connected to this resource!)

CLOTH food pantry has new dates for volunteers to register. Only 5 volunteers are able to register per shift. Volunteers must be 21 years or older. Here’s the schedule of activities as it stands:

  • Mondays, 7–10am, UNLOADING truck, ORGANIZING shelves, PACKING bags
  • Mondays, 4:30–7pm, PACKING bags of food
  • Tuesdays, 9am–1pm, PANTRY DISTRIBUTION*
  • Wednesdays, 9am–1pm, PANTRY DISTRIBUTION*
  • Thursdays, 9am–1pm, PANTRY DISTRIBUTION*
  • Fridays, 7–10am, UNLOADING truck, ORGANIZING shelves, PACKING bags
  • Fridays, 2–5pm, PACKING bags of food
  • Saturdays, 9am–1pm, PANTRY DISTRIBUTION*

Another reminder that, if you’d like to get involved in the mutual aid efforts my office is helping to jump-start, please sign up at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com.

That is also the form you should use if you are in need of support during this time. I want to encourage anyone who’s in need of help to reach out, either through the mutual aid form or hotline or directly to my office. We New Yorkers have to know when to ask for support.

In Unity,
RJ


May 22, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

We’re heading into a strange Memorial Day weekend. I hope you can take time to remember the lives of servicemembers we’ve lost. I also hope you and yours can find ways to safely enjoy the warming weather. 

In this update, I recap the week, offer a preview of movement in Albany next week, give an update on testing sites in the district, and provide some helpful community resources.

 

HEARING ON DISPARATE IMPACTS OF COVID-19 IN MINORITY COMMUNITIES

Monday I chaired a marathon 12-hour joint hearing called “Exploring Solutions to the Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Minority Communities." If you missed it, catch our live tweet thread. We heard from over 30 public health experts and social service providers from across New York State. Our panelists unpacked the sky-high death rates for Black and Latinx people; the difficulty getting thorough investigations of the uptick in anti-Asian hate crimes; and the plight of undocumented workers, trans New Yorkers, and other marginalized people.

Among the solutions our panelists offered were stronger investments in public health infrastructure, increasing revenues through raising taxes on the wealthiest residents, policies to relieve rent and medical loans, better communication in Spanish and other common languages, and steps to eliminate the systemic racism in various aspects of our society.

I’m proud to have been a part of this effort and know this is only the beginning of a conversation around these public health disparities that must continue to shape our policymaking for the foreseeable future.

 

SENATE IN SESSION NEXT WEEK

I have been urging the Senate to reconvene for the past month, and next week it’s finally happening! We will be meeting as a conference on Tuesday and the Senate will be in session starting next Wednesday to pass a package of bills focused on coronavirus relief. I know the COVID-19 Housing Working Group I’ve been participating in has put a lot of thought into rent relief, and another group on Raising Revenue has also been hard at work. As soon as I have more details to share about our work next week, I will do so on social media and in my next update. At this point, I’m just glad to get back to legislating!

 

UPDATE ON TESTING SITES IN DISTRICT 31

Many of you have probably seen notices of COVID-19 diagnostic testing sites in your area. Unfortunately, neither the City nor the State list the other’s testing sites on their respective maps. Testing criteria have widened in the past few weeks, so if you desire a test, look up the closest testing site on the City and the State websites and call your healthcare provider to see if you qualify.

The State is working with SOMOS Community Care to open pop-up sites for diagnostic and antibody testing at three Northern Manhattan churches and one uptown doctor’s office. To make an appointment, call 1.833.766.6769:

Open from May 22–27: Office of Dr. Francisco Rosario, 19 Hamilton Place, #1.

Open from May 28 - June 1:

  • St. Elizabeth’s Church, 268 Wadsworth Avenue.
  • St. Jude’s Church, 439 W 204th Street.
  • Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church, 81 Arden Street.

Several of my staff have also gotten the free antibody testing by the City at 21 Old Broadway and report that the process is very smooth and well-run. If you are at least two weeks out from having COVID-19 symptoms, you are eligible to receive this blood test. Both the accuracy of these tests and what having antibodies means are still hotly debated within the scientific community, so the decision to get this test is a personal one and the results should not change your behavior moving forward.

 

BENEFITS + SOCIAL SERVICES UPDATES

Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits will be automatically distributed by the State to all families of school-aged children in New York City

Families of public school (or participating private school) children between the ages of 5 and 18 are eligible for the one-time benefit of $420 for each eligible child. 

Payments will be issued as follows:

  • Families currently receiving SNAP and Cash Assistance will receive a P-EBT benefit directly to their existing EBT cards, with $193 on May 19th and $227 on June 16th.
  • Families with Medicaid-only cases will receive the full payment in the last two weeks of June on a separate benefit card for each child in the household.
  • Families not receiving CA, SNAP, or Medicaid benefits will receive a benefit card for each eligible child to families in this cohort in July and August 2020.

 

DOE is distributing feminine hygiene products at schools with Grab’n’Go meal programs. For more details, click here. Schools in or near district include:

  • IS 52 Harold Levy, 650 Academy St, 10034
  • MS 218 Salome Ureña, 4600 Broadway, 10040
  • PS/IS 189, 2580 Amsterdam Ave, 10040
  • IS 528 Bea Fuller Rodgers School, 180 Wadsworth Ave, 10033
  • JHS 143 Eleanor Roosevelt,  511 W 182nd St, 10033
  • Community Health Academy, 504 W 158th St, 10032
  • PS/MS 194, 244 W 144th St, 10030
  • PS 123 Mahalia Jackson, 301 W 140th St, 10030
  • PS 192 Jacob H. Schiff, 500 W 138th St, 10031
  • PS/IS 161 Pedro Albizu Campos, 499 W 133rd St, 10027

 

The City is offering several kinds of jobs right now:

 

A few updates on state unemployment benefits. We’re seeing lots of motion on cases. If you’ve applied more than two weeks ago and have neither seen a change in your status nor received a call from DOL, you can flag your case for my office by filling out this form [https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe5qAuswfttmaTxoE9z4U_PBF9emZTamK617dc3YGVaJwhlhA/viewform?usp=sf_link]. We’ll get in touch within three business days if there are any further questions we have, and we escalate cases to the Governor’s Office for urgent attention twice weekly.

 

The City Human Resources Administration has released the application for the Cooling Assistance benefit [https://access.nyc.gov/programs/cooling-assistance-benefit/], which helps eligible households buy and install an air conditioner or fan up to a cost of $800. In addition, the City and State are creating a $55 million program to provide over 74,000 air conditioners to New Yorkers who are 60 years old and older and have income below 60 percent of the state median income, and do not have air conditioning at home. This is a good start, but we must keep up the pressure to make sure the cooling plan for summer 2020 works for the most vulnerable people in our city.

 

COMMUNITY UPDATES

A reminder that all the resources my staff and I come across are sorted and logged in our Coronavirus Resource Guide that you can view at:

covid19.senatorjackson.com.

If you’re going out to enjoy the nice weather this weekend, don’t forget to maintain 6 feet of separation from people who aren’t in your household and to wear a mask or other form of face covering. As the weather turns toward summer, we have to stay vigilant so we keep our communities safe from another spike in COVID-19 cases.

 

My team and I will be distributing free masks and hand sanitizer starting next Friday, May 29th, 11am–12:30pm at [INSERT ADDRESS] and 1:30–3pm at 137th St. and Broadway. 

  • Bring your own container for sanitizer
  • Practice social distancing if lines form
  • Only while supplies last

More dates/times and locations coming soon!

Submissions for the NYC Quarantine Film Festival are open through May 29 on FilmFreeway. Click the link to see guidelines and to submit! There will be prizes awarded by category, and the "Top 10" liked films and awarded film will get a public presentation (post-quarantine) in NYC Parks in 2021 as part of Inwood Art Works’ Film Works Alfresco outdoor cinema series.

If you're interested in volunteering with Riverside Park Conservancy, you can join a virtual orientation this coming Wednesday, May 20 from 5–6pm. Send them an email to register!

 

The CENSUS is still going! On Wednesday, May 27 at 5pm the NYC census team will host a virtual, citywide “Neighborhood Organizing Census Convening” to go over:

  • Updates on their campaign’s efforts and timeline
  • How you can get involved with organizing, phonebanking and more
  • Their new “friends and family” outreach toolkit

RSVP here and they will send you a link on the day of the event to your email.

CLOTH food pantry has new dates for volunteers to register. Only 5 volunteers are able to register per shift. Volunteers must be 21 years or older. Here’s the schedule of activities as it stands:

  • Mondays, 7–10am, UNLOADING truck, ORGANIZING shelves, PACKING bags
  • Mondays, 4:30–7pm, PACKING bags of food
  • Tuesdays, 9am–1pm, PANTRY DISTRIBUTION*
  • Wednesdays, 9am–1pm, PANTRY DISTRIBUTION*
  • Thursdays, 9am–1pm, PANTRY DISTRIBUTION*
  • Fridays, 7–10am, UNLOADING truck, ORGANIZING shelves, PACKING bags
  • Fridays, 2–5pm, PACKING bags of food
  • Saturdays, 9am–1pm, PANTRY DISTRIBUTION*

Another reminder that, if you’d like to get involved in the mutual aid efforts my office is helping to jump-start, please sign up at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com

That is also the form you should use if you are in need of support during this time. I want to encourage anyone who’s in need of help to reach out, either through the mutual aid form or hotline or directly to my office. We New Yorkers have to know when to ask for support.

In Unity,

RJ

May 27, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

I want to wish you all a Happy Eid-ul-Fitr (last Saturday) and Happy Shavuot (beginning tonight)! 

Read below for a summary of important legislation we’ve passed in Albany this week, information about our distribution of free masks and hand sanitizer, and a bunch of community updates.

My May newsletter should have hit households in Senate District 31 earlier this week. If you didn’t receive a copy, you can view it online for updates from the past few months.

 

LEGISLATIVE SUMMARY, PART 1: 27 bills passed yesterday!

We’ve been extremely busy now that we’re finally back in session. Here are some highlights among the 27 bills we passed yesterday in the Senate:

  • S7082 extends the window of the Child Victims Act to August 14, 2021 for filing civil lawsuits.  
  • S8275-A suspends “forfeiture days” facing many unemployment applicants for the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency.
  • S8289-B requires every residential health care facility to prepare and submit an annual pandemic emergency plan to the commissioner of health.
  • S8362-A requires contact tracers working in NYC to be representative of the cultural and linguistic diversity of the communities in which they serve.
  • S8113-A places a moratorium on the termination of residential utility services during the COVID-19 state of emergency and for 180 days after the state of emergency is over. It also provides that utilities offer residential customers the right to enter into or renegotiate a deferred payment plan.
  • S8192-B protects residential tenants that suffered a financial hardship during New York on PAUSE from being evicted for nonpayment of rent due during PAUSE; however landlords can still obtain a money judgment for rent due. 
  • S8416 This bill would include audio-only and video-only telehealth and telemedicine services to be eligible for Medicaid reimbursement.
  • S8411, one of my bills, decouples certain NYC taxes from the CARES Act to prevent our city from losing $50M this fiscal year and $25M next fiscal year. The City is already facing a $5.4B shortfall and can't afford to lose any more money. Every little bit counts. 

 

LEGISLATIVE SUMMARY, PART 2: Housing and the Fight Ahead

This afternoon, we passed S8419, referred to as the “Emergency Rent Relief Act of 2020.” The bill allocates $100 million of federal funds from the CARES Act for a rental housing voucher program. Tenants must meet a stringent set of criteria to be eligible for this relief: they must have been  rent burdened before the COVID-19 crisis and remain rent burdened now, they must have a household income below 80% of the Area Median Income, and they must be able to prove lost income due to COVID-19. The administration of the voucher program, including drafting preferences to prioritize applicants, is delegated to NYS Housing and Community Renewal (HCR). HCR may further delegate portions of the program to agencies and nonprofits throughout the state. Here are my thoughts on the bill:

  • This bill will make a small difference in our state. It’s an important first step. The fact is that we will take up the issue of rent relief again, with a much more comprehensive approach and with more funding. Not doing so is not an option.
  • Of course, I have some issues and concerns with this bill. $100 million is a drop in the bucket, as my colleague and bill sponsor Senator Kavanagh acknowledged in his remarks from the floor. I’m also concerned about the structure of a voucher program, especially one that has no accountability for landlords. Last, I believe that the means testing in this bill leaves out too many of our neighbors and must be modified in our efforts going forward.
  • I ultimately voted in favor of this bill because, at this point, helping 50,000 families with this money is better than doing nothing. But let me be clear that our work here is not done. Let there be no illusions that we have “dealt with” the housing crisis at our doorstep by passing this bill. We must redouble our efforts to home in on the best solutions on the table, account for the input of our communities and the housing advocates, and come together again in a few weeks with a plan to provide meaningful rent relief for all who need it.
  • I want to offer my thoughts about what this future legislation should look like. It should not be based on a voucher program if we are to prevent speculation and forestall a secondary real estate crisis that could result. An abatement program would prevent landlord abuse of funds and make relief available to a wider cross-segment of those in need, including to homeowners and small commercial tenants.
  • Our next bill must also reduce the barrier to entry for tenants in need. Anybody who has lost income in this crisis and cannot pay rent—be they tipped workers, freelancers, or undocumented immigrants—should have easy access to relief.
  • Finally, as we continue to fight for $100 billion in federal rent relief and $500 billion in unrestricted aid to states and localities nationwide, we must raise revenues from the wealthiest New Yorkers to supplement rent relief and other much-needed social services like healthcare and education.

 

MASK AND HAND SANITIZER GIVE-AWAYS

Tomorrow my team and I will be distributing free masks and hand sanitizer 11am–12:30pm at 127 Nagle Ave in Inwood and 1:30–3pm at 137th St. and Broadway in West Harlem

  1. Bring your own container for sanitizer
  2. Practice social distancing if lines form
  3. Only while supplies last

Soon I'll be sending an email dedicated to letting you know about additional locations, dates, and times for our give-aways.

 

COMMUNITY UPDATES

A reminder that all the resources my staff and I come across are sorted and logged in our Coronavirus Resource Guide that you can view at:

covid19.senatorjackson.com

As I mentioned last week, the State is working with SOMOS Community Care to open pop-up sites for diagnostic and antibody testing at three Northern Manhattan churches from May 28 - June 1:

  • St. Elizabeth’s Church, 268 Wadsworth Avenue.
  • St. Jude’s Church, 439 W 204th Street.
  • Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church, 81 Arden Street.

Call 1.833.766.6769 to make an appointment.

Testing criteria have widened in the past few weeks, so if you desire a test, look up the closest testing site and call your healthcare provider to see if you qualify.

 

If something happens to your health and you can no longer speak or communicate for yourself, it is essential to designate someone you know and trust as your Health Care Agent. End of Life Choices New York is offering a free Healthcare Proxy Helpline to help our constituents complete a New York State Health Care Proxy form, which we can do remotely through June 6.

 

The Boys and Girls Club of Harlem is opening a food pantry tomorrow! If you’re in West Harlem around 145th St. and could use the support, please sign up here.

 

Submissions for the NYC Quarantine Film Festival are open through tomorrow on FilmFreeway. Click the link to see guidelines and to submit! There will be prizes awarded by category, and the "Top 10" liked films and awarded film will get a public presentation (post-quarantine) in NYC Parks in 2021 as part of Inwood Art Works’ Film Works Alfresco outdoor cinema series.

On May 30th, 2002, the last steel column was removed from Ground Zero marking the end of recovery operations at the World Trade Center following the attacks on 9/11. Join the National September 11 Memorial and Museum on Saturday, May 30, at 11:00am for this special online ceremony of this anniversary, which can be viewed on YouTube or the Museum's website at www.911memorial.org/May30.

 

Our community in the Upper Heights east of Broadway needs supportive volunteers to help place and remove barricades for their Open Streets proposal to open Audubon Avenue from 181st to 190th Streets, 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm. If you can help, email Rosa Yolanda at connectemonos@gmail.com.

 

Another reminder that, if you’d like to get involved in the mutual aid efforts my office is helping to jump-start, please sign up at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com

That is also the form you should use if you are in need of support during this time. I want to encourage anyone who’s in need of help to reach out, either through the mutual aid form or hotline or directly to my office. We New Yorkers have to know when to ask for support.

In Unity,

RJ

June 5, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

This is the last time I’ll be able to communicate with you via this medium until June 24. In the meantime, please follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I’ll be more active there to provide updates on what’s going on.

Below find info about a March & Rally to Repeal 50-a that I’m organizing for Sunday, a legislative update on the bills I’m pushing at the state level to move us toward justice, a collection of ways to help our undocumented neighbors during these difficult times, and some important community updates.

 

MARCH & RALLY TO REPEAL 50-A ON SUNDAY

This Sunday my team and I are organizing a march to repeal 50-a and pass other bills in the #SaferNYAct (see more below!) to follow up on our vigils last weekend. We have to demonstrate support for this key measure of police accountability because there are forces working to water it down.

I’ll be starting at Marble Hill at 1pm as we make our way down to Riverbank State Park for a 4pm rally in support of the package of reforms we’re pushing for at the State level and in support of the larger Movement for Black Lives. I look forward to joining up with Assembly Members Carmen De La Rosa in Inwood and Al Taylor in the Heights.

Assembly Members Danny O’Donnell and Inez Dickens may be leading contingencies from farther south in the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights, and Harlem. I’ll signal boost as they make their plans.

If you’re interested in helping to marshal for the march to keep our people safe, please email my Deputy Chief of Staff Chris Nickell to RSVP for a marshal training Saturday.

 

 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Part of the change we need to see right now has to happen through changing laws. I’m proud to support a package of bills called the #SaferNYAct. These bills include:

  • S3695 - Clean repeal of 50-a that shields police misconduct from public accountability (O’Donnell/Bailey)
  • A3566 - Criminalizing false 9-1-1 complaint (Benjamin/Ortiz)
  • S2574A - Creating the Office of the Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute instances involving the death of a person following an encounter with a police officer
  • S1830B - Police STAT Act to publish important statistics on crimes and the people charged in them
  • S3253 - Right to Monitor Act affirming, our right to record the actions of law enforcement.
  • S7527 - Authorizing local governments to create local independent oversight of police
  • S6601 - Affirming the requirement of police officers to provide medical attention for people taken into custody
  • S4076 - Criminalizing the failure to obtain medical care for a person in police custody
  • S6670A - The Eric Garner anti-chokehold act establishing the crime of strangulation
  • S1137A - Banning racial and ethnic profiling by police
  • S2571 - Increasing number of low-level offenses that receive desk tickets rather than arrests
  • S6686 and S6793 - Requiring use of body cameras for NYS police and MTA police

I also support the inclusion in this package of S2253, the repeal of the “Walking While Trans” ban on loitering that has disproportionately criminalized our black and brown trans siblings.

 

SUPPORT OUR UNDOCUMENTED NEIGHBORS

Yesterday I held an hour-long special edition of Represent NYC on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network to highlight ways we can support our undocumented neighbors during these difficult times. I had some amazing panelists who shared some ways we can all help out:

 

BALLOT UPDATE

I thank our Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for providing this important information to keep us all informed:

Primary Day is June 23! There are three ways to vote:

In person: at your regular polling place, from 6am to 9pm on Primary Day. Search pollsitelocator.com for that location.

By mail, via Absentee Ballot: All eligible registered Democrats have already been mailed an application which they should fill out and return on or before Tuesday, June 16 by mail in the enclosed postage paid envelope. If you missed that application in your mailbox, you may also request an application online at the Board of Elections website at vote.nyc.  (If you miss the mail-in deadline of June 16, you can also drop off your application and vote in person at the Board of Elections office at 200 Varick Street, 10th Floor, during normal business hours until 5pm on June 22, the day before the primary.) 

In completing the application, specify "temporary illness" as your reason (The Governor has declared illness a legitimate reason to receive a ballot this year) and list the address to which you want the ballot sent (either your home or your "COVID address"). Again, you must apply by June 16 if using the mail to receive a ballot, which you must complete and return by mail, postmarked by June 22 or returned in person, to the Manhattan Board of Elections office, 200 Varick St., 10 Fl, New York, NY 10014 by 9pm on Primary Day.

Remember to put the absentee ballot into the provided envelope and sign and date that envelope!

Early, in person: Between Saturday, June 13 and Sunday, June 21, during these hours at these locations (info from the BOE):

  • Saturday, 6/13, 2020 10am–4pm
  • Sunday, 6/14, 2020 10am–4pm
  • Monday, 6/15, 2020 7am–3pm
  • Tuesday, 6/16, 2020 12pm–8pm
  • Wednesday, 6/17, 2020 12pm–8pm
  • Thursday, 6/18, 2020 10am–6pm
  • Friday, 6/19, 2020 7am–3pm
  • Saturday, 6/20, 2020 10am–4pm
  • Sunday, 6/21, 2020 10am–4pm

Early voting sites in or near my district include:

  • JHS 143 Eleanor Roosevelt, 511 West 182nd St. New York, NY 10033
  • Columbia University Berrie Pavilion, 1150 St. Nicholas Ave. New York, NY 10032
  • Columbia University Wien Hall, 411 West 116th St. New York, NY  10027
  • John Jay College North Hall, 445 West 59th St. New York, NY 10019 

Whichever way you choose, please remember to vote!

 

COMMUNITY UPDATES

The Governor recommends that all who have attended protests recently get COVID-19 testing. Look up the closest testing site.

Planned Parenthood’s Project Street Beat team is still out in the community providing care! If possible, patients should call 1-855-778-2328 prior to visiting. During unsettling times, it is more important than ever for PPGNY to continue to have our services available to communities most in need. They’ll be in our district at 1419 St Nicholas Ave (between 180th and 181st) on:

  • Wednesday, June 10th, 10am-5pm
  • Wednesday, June 24th, 10am-5pm

Another reminder that, if you’d like to get involved in the mutual aid efforts my office is helping to jump-start, please sign up at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com

That is also the form you should use if you are in need of support during this time. I want to encourage anyone who’s in need of help to reach out, either through the mutual aid form or hotline or directly to my office. We New Yorkers have to know when to ask for support.

In Unity,

RJ

June 26, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

Summer is here! I want to congratulate all the students, parents, teachers, and staff of our school communities for making it to this point. It hasn’t been easy. I hope our communities can take time this summer to heal from all we’ve been through.

 

WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO

Right after my last update on June 5, we held a march and rally with over 2,500 constituents in support of repealing 50-a, the law shielding police misconduct from public view. 

  

  

Early the week of June 8, we passed 10 bills that the Governor has now signed into law, including a repeal of 50-a. You can watch my floor speech on that monumental bill here.

The next week, I was honored to speak to constituents at a safely distanced town hall on Rethinking Policing hosted at St. Paul & St. Andrew Church on the Upper West Side. My main message is that our work is not done when it comes to ending systemic racism in policing practices and elsewhere, and we have to keep up the pressure.

    

I was glad to do an interview with Bronx-based journalist and City College grad Rick Aguirre on COVID-19 and the #BlackLivesMatter protests against police brutality, which you can see here.

Thursday, my staff and I, along with a dozen hard-working volunteers, offered dried goods and fresh produce to over 150 people in Holyrood-Santa Cruz Church in Washington Heights, thanks to Fr. Luis Barrios who donated use of the space. I was so happy to be able to support my community with this food pantry. Our neighborhood faces some very complex issues, but at the end of the day what matters most is safe shelter and nutritious food. When all is said and done, there was more demand than we could satisfy with the food I acquired, a mark of the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. I hope to offer this resource again soon in Inwood. I’ll publicize the date and location as soon as they’re finalized.

  

I have to brag on my staff for a moment. My Chief of Staff Johanna Garcia just published an op-ed in Gotham Gazette laying out what education needs to look like after coronavirus. It’s worth the read!

 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

I’m painfully aware that rent is due July 1. Relief beyond the $100 million we approved earlier this month is badly needed, but we are still waiting on the Federal government to allocate funding. That funding is a requirement for us to hammer out a rent relief program at the state level. Without it, we cannot provide the support our people need. I am ready to roll up my sleeves and do the work as soon as we know the money will be there.

Another area where federal funds are a must is in assisting our small businesses and nonprofit service providers. I continue to push S8169, my bill which would establish the coronavirus pandemic small business and not-for-profit organization loan program. The economic devastation of small businesses statewide, especially those in minority communities hit hardest by the pandemic, weighs heavy on my mind.

I am also co-sponsoring a bill to allow New York City to borrow responsibly during this economic crisis so we can maintain social services like education and healthcare.

 

COMMUNITY UPDATES

My office has been hearing a lot from constituents about quality of life issues, especially in Northern Manhattan. The kinds of issues we are hearing about—fireworks, loud music, drag racing, public smoking—are not new. But the intensity, especially of the fireworks, is unprecedented. I support the Mayor’s Task Force to crack down on supply chains of these illegal fireworks. My office and I are also coming up with ideas for community responses to these issues that we will share shortly. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to use the 311 app to log complaints. I know it can feel unsatisfying and like you aren’t being heard, but the collective heat map of complaints is important.

At several locations uptown in and around my district over the next several days, FDNY will be discussing fireworks safety. You can catch them 4–8pm on:

  • Saturday, June 27 at W 181st St and St. Nicholas Ave
  • Monday, June 29 at W 125th St and Frederick Douglas Blvd
  • Wednesday, July 1 at Nagle Ave and Dyckman St
  • Thursday, July 2 at W 163rd St and Amsterdam Ave

Parents and students, DOE has created a short, anonymous survey to help them understand what is most important to you for when you return to school in the fall. 

Housing Court has re-opened, but advocates are pushing hard to call on Governor Cuomo to extend the universal eviction moratorium. You can add your voice by visiting bit.ly/CalltoKeepCourtsClosed. In the meantime, know that no eviction warrants can be served until July 6 at the earliest, and housing court proceedings are postponed till then, too. 

Goddard Riverside is offering assistance to NYCHA residents and Goddard participants in need because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Spread the word: goddard.org/directrelief.

Phase 3 will be coming in New York City on July 6 if the metrics hold. In this phase, both Personal Care businesses are allowed to reopen and food establishments are allowed to offer indoor dining. Indoor capacity is limited to no more than 50 percent of the maximum occupancy for the particular area, not including employees. Stay tuned for more details!

In Unity,

RJ

July 8, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

Tensions are running high across many parts of our district over ongoing racial injustice, quality of life concerns, and more. In this update, I offer my thoughts on these issues, announce a new program called Senator In Your Corner, update you on some important legislation, and share community updates. Read on for more.

 

STATEMENT ON QUALITY OF LIFE CONCERNS

Dozens of my constituents have reached out via phone, email and social media over the past several weeks to let me and my office know about their issues and concerns regarding local quality of life issues. We have heard about fireworks, loud music, drag racing, and more. I have been in constant communication with our local precincts and with City Hall about these issues, especially with members of the Mayor’s taskforce on illegal fireworks. There are additional thoughts I want to share with you here.

First and foremost, I want to publicly ask those who are engaging in these behaviors to reflect upon how their actions are affecting others and urge you to find other activities that are less disruptive to our community.

Second, I encourage everyone who experiences these disruptions to call 311. Make sure you write down your complaint number and call it in to your local Community Board. You can also send the number to my office. I know it’s sometimes not a satisfying feeling to see no action taken immediately. However, the collective heat map that FDNY and NYPD and other agencies receive from 311 calls is important for long-term solutions.

My third point is that I urge us not to have these conversations about quality of life issues in isolation from the movement for racial justice that has taken center stage since the beginning of June. We will not make progress on either front if we only consider them in isolation.

The issue of police either comes up in these complaints or is waiting just off-stage, so I want to address it directly. Our city is having conversations about moving away from the current policing model as the way to provide the safety and security we all want and need. Those are good conversations to have. As a result, the City Council voted last week to move roughly $1 billion out of the NYPD budget. Some say it was just deck chair rearranging without real consequence; others say it was the beginning of the end of stability and safety in NYC. 

Regardless, the reactions of law enforcement leadership have been troubling. They are scapegoating (blaming) elected public officials for a spike in violence occurring under their watch; in reality this spike has everything to do with what our communities have been through during COVID-19 the past few months coupled with the usual summer uptick. We still have one of the best-funded police departments in the country. Until we put that money toward other forms of community safety, I will expect the NYPD to do their jobs. That includes doing a better job of snuffing out fireworks supply chains, solving the threats to life and limb posed by the Revel scooters in our community, enforcing noise ordinances when car stereo systems are keeping working people from much-needed sleep, and getting these unacceptable levels of gun violence under control. Our communities deserve better and we must all work together to ensure a positive change happens.

The other key factor in all this is you, the community. Many of the complaints we’ve received have not come with any ideas for solutions; please send me ideas if you have them! I point this out because I understand how difficult solutions are to come by these days. The ultimate solution is a change in the mindset of our community, one that’s been forced apart by sheltering in place during COVID-19 and has only come together again around the trauma of police brutality. 

We need messages of healing and unity coming from community leaders like elected public officials, clergy, tenant leaders, parent advocates, and community-based organizations. We need opportunities to reconnect with one another safely in dialogue and in service. My office is committed to supporting these things over the coming months and years. 

We’re going to be hosting a series of outdoor conversations focused on healing some of the wounds the past few months have opened up along race and racism. We’re also going to partner with local organizations to offer different ways we can come together to improve our community and help one another out. I look forward to sharing more details with you soon. We have to roll up our sleeves and put in the work because there are no easy solutions here, but together we can make the changes we need to see.

 

ANNOUNCING SENATOR IN YOUR CORNER

It's not safe yet to meet ON your corner, but I'm still IN your corner! My team and I are reworking our popular Senator On Your Corner model into a virtual #SenatorInYourCorner. We will be available for a two hour window to address your issues and concerns in real time. The first round will offer three opportunities to meet up. You can register at SIYC.senatorjackson.com for 4–6pm the following dates:

  • July 10 if you live in Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, or the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights
  • July 21 for Harlem and Hamilton Heights
  • July 23 for Washington Heights, Inwood, and Marble Hill. 

After you sign up, you’ll receive the information for the Zoom call so you can join via a phone, tablet, or computer. This way we can stay safe AND present!

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Last week, the Governor signed into law the Tenant Safe Harbor Act of Senator Hoylman’s that I co-sponsored and supported. It means that no tenant can be evicted during the state of emergency for nonpayment of rent if they’ve been adversely impacted by COVID-19. It means we don’t have to rely on the Executive Order to stay evictions for these people. 

This is good news, but our work isn’t done. With housing courts at risk of opening up for eviction filings, we need to try to keep those courts closed for as long as possible. Advocates are also pushing hard to call on Governor Cuomo to extend the universal eviction moratorium. You can add your voice by visiting bit.ly/CalltoKeepCourtsClosed.

The $100 million rent relief fund I mentioned last month has also been signed into law, but we are still waiting on Housing and Community Renewal (HCR) to publish the application so tenants can apply for the relief. We already know it’s not enough, and I encourage everyone to continue contacting your US Senators to push for federal relief funds to be allocated to the states so we can set up a rent abatement program that works for everyone and addresses the tremendous needs that exist in the wake of COVID-19.

As we keep up the pressure in the movement for racial justice and an end to police brutality, I wanted to let you know that I’ve introduced a bill to end so-called qualified immunity in New York State—S8668. Under an obscure Supreme Court doctrine, police are often protected from liability of misconduct in civil court. With so few criminal prosecutions of police misconduct in all but the most extreme and public cases, qualified immunity presents a significant barrier to justice for aggrieved families who are forced to go through civil court. 

We’ve taken down the wall of secrecy hiding police misconduct records from the public by repealing 50-a. Now we need to roll back qualified immunity so families of those victims of police brutality can pursue justice through the civil courts. I’ll write more about how we can make this bill into law in the next update.

 

COMMUNITY UPDATES

Save the date for a Tenant Info Session I’m hosting on July 15 6–8pm with Manhattan Legal Services. So many tenants are on the brink right now, facing so much uncertainty. While we continue fighting for real rent relief, I'm offering this opportunity to hear the latest on housing court, the eviction moratorium, and more.

New York City's mental health crisis response system is broken. Too many have been failed during their time of need. Often people receive handcuffs instead of help. On Tuesday, July 21, 7–8:30pm, join National Alliance on Mental Illness NYC (NAMI-NYC) and the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) for Save Lives, Don’t Take Them as they analyze the problems with our current mental health crisis response system and discuss potential solutions. 

Inwood Art Works founder Aaron Simms has launched a new podcast that features all local artists who reside in the Northern Manhattan area. You can check it out wherever you get your podcasts (Inwood Art Works On Air) and at this video trailer.

You can also find exciting content on the new website Spanglish Voices, which owes much to the efforts of Northern Manhattan’s own independent media producer Edwin Rosario Mazara. 

Over 90 studio apartments at “Victory Plaza” at W 118th St and 5th Ave are available through the lottery via Housing Connect for seniors making under $39,800 for a one-person household or under $45,500 for a two-person household. A mail-in application can be requested by sending a self-addressed envelope to: Victory Plaza c/o Wavecrest Consulting LLC, 87-14 116th Street, Richmond Hill, NY 11418. Applications must be submitted or postmarked by Aug. 25. Preference for half of the new apartments will be given to current Manhattan residents. People with vision, hearing and mobility disabilities will also receive preference for a small percentage of the units.

CLOTH food pantry has new dates for volunteers to register. Only 5 volunteers are able to register per shift. Volunteers must be 21 years or older. Here’s the schedule of activities as it stands:

Delivery shifts—on Mon and Fri—are now only held in the morning. There are no afternoon shifts for delivery days.

Distribution shifts—on Tue, Wed, Thu, and Satnow start at 8:45am

 

In Unity,

RJ

July 13, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

I hope you’re staying safe and well. The pace of news is not letting up even though it’s summer. Below are some really crucial information about a forthcoming rent relief program, our tenant info session this week and Senator in Your Corner events next week, and some community updates. 

 

RENT RELIEF PROGRAM

I know the need for rent relief is so great and only grows larger with each passing month. That’s why I keep pushing so hard for our Congressional delegation to provide New York with additional unrestricted aid so we can do more for tenants.

In the meantime, I want to share some news with you. This week, HCR, the state agency for housing in New York, will open their application for the $100 million fund we legislated from CARES Act money in June. The application will be available for two weeks online and by postal mail. In order to qualify, you have the meet the following criteria:

  • Be a renter with primary residence in New York State
  • Be paying more than 30% of your income in rent BOTH before March 1 and at the time of application
  • Have lost income due to the COVID-19 crisis during the period April 1 to July 31, 2020
  • Have a household income before March 1 that’s below 80% Area Median Income (i.e. below $90,600 for a family of 4)
  • Have someone in your household with U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status (can be a minor)

If this fits you, I encourage you to prepare the following documentation so you’re ready to apply:

  • Proof of ID (Drivers License or NYS ID card)
  • Lease (or another contractual obligation that indicates monthly rental amount)
  • Proof of rental payments from February 2020
  • Proof of household gross income prior to March 1, 2020 AND present
  • Landlord contact information and address

The maximum amount you can receive is however much money is required to get you to the previous percentage of your income you owed in rent pre-pandemic. 

As soon as this application goes live, I will let you know by e-update and on social media.

This is important to know: the application is NOT first come, first serve. HCR will evaluate all the applications that come in during the two week period and the money will be allocated based on need.

My office stands ready to assist anybody who needs support with this application. Please have them get in touch with us by calling 212.544.0173 during business hours so that we can help make sure as many people have access to these funds from our district as possible.

 

TENANT INFO SESSION

I'm hosting a tenant info session on Wednesday, July 15, 6–8pm. There is so much information to share and so many questions tenants need answers to. Join us! I’ll stream the session live on my Facebook page. With the help of Manhattan Legal Services and the Met Council on Housing, we'll answer as much as we can & offer future directions for advocacy.

 

SENATOR IN YOUR CORNER

Our first Senator In Your Corner virtual event went really well last Friday. Join us next Tuesday, July 21 for another one, this time for residents of Morningside Heights, West Harlem, and Hamilton Heights. On Thursday, July 23, we’ll have one for Washington Heights, Inwood, and Marble Hill. You can register for either of these events here.

Information for the Zoom call will be sent out 24 hours in advance and you’ll have a chance to “stop by” and speak with me and my staff about your issues and concerns. 

 

COMMUNITY UPDATES

As we enter another active Hurricane Season (which started June 1) and the COVID-19 pandemic continues, this is an important time to learn the main tasks we need to do to prepare, respond and recover from local emergencies and large-scale disasters in our community. Join us tomorrow at 4pm for a Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Webinar. We’ll learn about the types of disasters we might face, from home fires to hurricanes, and get access to the knowledge we need to sustain ourselves, our family, and our community in the event of a human-made or natural disaster.

 

Community League of the Heights invites you to sign-up for We're Here, a program that offers counseling, for free, to youth, parents, families, community members, to support your mental health and wellness at this time. We're Here mentors will connect with you on your needs, reach out, and help you, your family, your friends feel strong at this time.

IDNYC Enrollment Centers are temporarily closed due to precautions taken to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Appointments will not be taken at this time, however you may still submit your renewal application online. If you or a loved one need help accessing the renewal application, please contact my office at 212.544.0173 for assistance.

On Tuesday, July 28th at 6:30pm, Manhattan Community Board 4’s Balanced Business Task Force will host a Virtual Forum on Small Business Support Programs and NYC’s Re-Opening Plan in the Age of COVID-19. Presentation, panel discussion, and questions from the Public will focus on the following:

  • Discussion of Current and Future Re-Opening Regulations
  • Review of Current and Proposed Small Business Support Services and Programs
  • Status of Local Community District 4 Small Businesses
  • Lessons Learned and How to Improve Re-Opening Process

Register in advance to attend this forum!

If you run a restaurant or bar, consider applying for the Open Restaurants program. 3 or more restaurants on a block can apply together for the Open Streets: Restaurants program, too. These are important programs to safely jump-start the recovery of our small business dining establishments.

 

The Summer Youth Employment Program has been on a roller coaster, from cancellation and months of limbo to a week-long turnaround once the City’s budget restored some crucial funding. To work within the limited means, SYEP Summer Bridge 2020 has been developed as an engaging virtual program that will offer opportunities to learn new skills, explore potential careers and earn money this summer:

  • Career Exploration: Flex your research skills and discover new career possibilities.
  • Skill-Building Activities: Receive help with your resume, cover letters, and interview skills. Learn essential job readiness skills and workplace etiquette.
  • Connections to Professionals: Build your network through mentoring, career panels, social media workshops, and more.
  • Community Building: Our democracy needs your voice. Learn valuable skills to become an active citizen at work and in your community.
  • Earn Money: Get paid to participate! Youth between the ages of 14-15 and 16-24 will receive stipend of $700 and $1,000 respectively for their participation.

The application is for:

  • Young people age 14 to 24
  • Must be a resident of one of the five NYC boroughs
  • Legally allowed to work in the US

This program will run VIRTUALLY from Monday, July 27th through Friday, August 28th. Visit https://application.nycsyep.com/ to access the application today! If you have already applied for SYEP, you MUST reapply and agree to the new program model to be eligible to participate.

 

In unity,

RJ

July 27, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

Last week was a busy one in Albany as we passed over 200 bills. I’ve also been focused at home in our district on listening to the issues and concerns you have during this unprecedented summer of 2020. In this update, I’ll let you know what I’ve been up to in the district, summarize the key bills we passed last week, and give some important community updates.

 

ADVOCATING AT HOME

The last time I wrote, I shared news of a Tenant Info Session I was hosting with Manhattan Legal Services and Met Council on Housing. It went very well, and much of the information is still relevant. You can view it in its entirety on Facebook.

From noon July 16 to noon July 17, I fasted in solidarity with over 100 excluded workers who have been cut out of federal and state relief during COVID-19. I slept the night on the sidewalk in front of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Madison Avenue residence, and in the morning we marched to Governor Cuomo’s office in support of legislation that would tax the richests residents of our state to pay their fair share so our most vulnerable neighbors could get some relief through an excluded worker fund.

Last week I was happy to join NYC Food Czar Kathryn Garcia and Borough President Gale Brewer during the morning distribution of Kosher grab-and-go meals at PS 75. You can find a full list of Summer grab and go meals here.

I also participated in an advocate-led legislative briefing last Wednesday about my bill (S7378) to tax the wealthiest New Yorkers to fund our schools, which is more important than ever before. My thanks to the Movement of Rank and File Educators for hosting!

On Saturday, I was proud to lend a hand in cleaning up our green space with the great advocates at Friends of Inwood Hill Park. These clean-ups are going to be a regular part of my efforts to safely re-engage our civic participation in the time of COVID-19, so stay tuned for more opportunities coming soon!

 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Here are some of my bills that we passed during last week’s marathon session:

  • S5719 requires school districts to give more students access to busing if they have to walk through a high crime area or through vacant housing on their way to school.
  • S7708 makes electric and utility billing more transparent 
  • S3318-A prohibits landlords from imposing a surcharge of $5 per A/C per month in rent regulated units where the tenant pays for electricity
  • S7159 requires medical coverage notices to have accurate and clear information because too many people receive “partial denials” that lead them to not seek the care they need.
  • S6569 allows people in housing discrimination cases, following a dismissal for lack of probable cause or jurisdiction by the Division of Human Rights, to appeal the final decision or bring a new action in court.

And here are some other major pieces of legislation the Senate passed that I was proud to vote for:

  • The Healthy Terminals Act (S6266-D) gives raises airport and building service employees’ wages and includes health care supplements so these essential workers can earn the dignified living they deserve.
  • The SWEAT bill (S7256), that will give employees tools to fight employers that steal employee wages.
  • The Protect Our Courts Act (S425-A), which makes it unlawful for ICE to make arrests in or near state courts.
  • Legislation (S5140-B) that prohibits school districts from collecting biometric data, such as facial recognition, from our students.
  • A bill (S6479-A) making all single occupancy restrooms gender neutral.
  • Some great electoral reforms, including:
    • Automatic voter registration (S8806) when New Yorkers interact with certain state agencies such as the DMV. This will allow eligible voters to become registered voters automatically unless they opt out of registering to vote!
    • Allowing people to register to vote at least 10 days before an election (S2311), which is the constitutional minimum amount of time. 
    • Making it easier for New York City residents to register to vote by allowing them to register online (S6463). 
    • Allowing college and university campuses to be contiguous election districts so they contain poll sites (S4378-A).

These reforms will help to make it easier for all New Yorkers to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

In the coming weeks, we’ll hold a series of legislative hearings that you can watch live:

  1. July 28, 2020 at 11AM - How COVID-19 Has Impacted Higher Education. Watch here.
  2. August 3, 2020 at 10AM - Residential Health Care Facilities and COVID-19. Watch here.
  3. August 10, 2020 at 10AM - Residential Health Care Facilities and COVID-19. Watch here.
  4. August 12, 2020 at 10AM - Review of New York State’s Rate of Infection and Mortality Due to COVID-19 in Hospitals. Watch here.
  5. August 25, 2020 at 10AM - Evaluating the Financial and Operational Impacts of COVID-19 on the MTA. Watch here.

 

RENT RELIEF PROGRAM

I’m teaming up with Indivisible Harlem, Inwood Indivisible, Action Potluck, and Rise Uptown Indivisible to broaden access to the COVID-19 Rent Relief Program that HCR is administering.

If you have computer access you can apply directly online. HCR has information and direct access to the application.

You can schedule a phone appointment with our partners here

Voice mails left at 917.259.1044 will be returned by a volunteer. 

My office is also answering calls in real time at 212.544.0173 or by email at rrp@senatorjackson.com.

As a reminder, here are the Rent Relief Program requirements

  • Be a renter with primary residence in New York State
  • Be paying more than 30% of your income in rent BOTH before March 1 and at the time of application
  • Have lost income due to the COVID-19 crisis during the period April 1 to July 31, 2020
  • Have a household income before March 1 that’s below 80% Area Median Income (i.e. below $90,600 for a family of 4)
  • Have someone in your household with U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status (can be a minor)

Here are the documents required

  • Proof of ID (Drivers License or NYS ID card, passport)
  • Lease (or another contractual obligation that indicates monthly rental amount)
  • Proof of rental payments from February 2020
  • Proof of household gross income prior to March 1, 2020 AND current income
  • Landlord contact information and address (payments go directly to the landlord)

Note: Section 8 tenants, NYCHA residents, or anyone who currently receives the SCRIE or DRIE program, is not eligible for this program. Contact your program administrator directly to have your rent adjusted.

If there are people in your circles who have limited access to technology, please share with them that my office is holding a pop-up rent relief application clinic in front of 809 Lounge at 112 Dyckman St on Thursday, July 30, 10am–5pm, to support Rent Relief Program applications. They can call us at 212.544.0173 for additional information about appointment slots and walk-ups.

 

COMMUNITY UPDATES

As we look to our federal representatives to authorize additional stimulus and pandemic unemployment compensation payments, I want to let you know that Mobilization for Justice has a new clinic devoted to helping non-fillers access their $1,200 stimulus check. If you think you may qualify, contact them at 212.417.3791

  

 

The Hudson Guild’s 23rd Annual Community Art Jam goes virtual this year. Celebrate art in 2020 by viewing unique works of more than 100 artists

  

 

Also at the Hudson Guild is The Breathe Project, an opportunity to explore ideas about justice, equality and change in response to the muder of George Floyd. Art is on display now through Labor Day 2020 at the Elliot Center, 441 West 26th and at the Fulton Center, 119 9th Avenue.

 

New York City's mental health crisis response system is broken. Too many have been failed during their time of need. Often people receive handcuffs instead of help. Tomorrow, July 28, 7–8:30pm, join National Alliance on Mental Illness NYC (NAMI-NYC) and the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) for Save Lives, Don’t Take Them as they analyze the problems with our current mental health crisis response system and discuss potential solutions. 

CLOTH food pantry has new dates for volunteers to register. Only 5 volunteers are able to register per shift. Volunteers must be 21 years or older. Here’s the schedule of activities as it stands:

  • Delivery shifts—on Mon and Fri—are now only held in the morning. There are no afternoon shifts for delivery days.
  • Distribution shifts—on Tue, Wed, Thu, and Satnow start at 8:45 AM

In unity,

RJ

August 7, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

I hope you were able to stay safe during the rough weather earlier this week. I urge everyone to make a disaster preparedness plan if you haven’t done so already. NYC Office of Emergency Management and the Greater NY Red Cross have some great resources to do so.

Read on for a recap of the past couple weeks, a legislative update, and some community updates I want to make sure you’re aware of.

 

RECAP

I took some time to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha and my daughter’s birthday this past weekend. It was nice to see family, but I’m glad to be back, too!

In the last couple weeks, I’ve been busy advocating for a few different causes. I joined the New York State Nurses Association as a panelist on a statewide town hall about the rash of closures of inpatient psychiatric units and outpatient substance use clinics as hospital systems try to trim costs. I spoke about the need for NewYork-Presbyterian to reopen the Allen Pavilion psychiatric unit, and I also sent a letter that several of my local elected official colleagues also joined demanding the same. I’ll be participating in a rally with NYSNA outside the Allen on August 19 at 10am, and I encourage you to join me if it’s safe for you to do so!

I also joined our colleagues at United University Professions (UUP) for a virtual rally demanding that SUNY reopen safely. As a proud SUNY New Paltz graduate, I’m glad to stand behind UUP in calling on our state university system to take all necessary precautions to keep students, staff, and faculty safe. I’m working on putting together a similar event for CUNY very soon!

I also joined conversations about local concerns, including the Community Board 12 public hearing on noise where Washington Heights and Inwood residents spoke about their ongoing issues with excessive loudness in the streets from fireworks, drag racing, car stereos, and the like. My office and I are also involved in dialogues about the ongoing use of commercial hotels for homeless shelters in Community Boards 4 and 7 to keep houseless neighbors safe during the pandemic

The past two Thursdays my staff and I have spent all day in the streets supporting constituents with applications to the Rent Relief Program (RRP). It’s not a perfect program, not by a long shot, but it is a start to help our most needy neighbors. Combined we saw over 100 constituents, many of whom we helped submit applications to the RRP and/or to programs like SCRIE and DRIE (Senior Citizen and Disabled Rent Increase Exemption programs). We also helped folks fill out their census!

*note: If you applied for Rent Relief, you won’t hear back until the end of this month at the earliest. When I hear more information from HCR, the agency administering the program, I’ll pass it along!*

 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Normally, we wouldn’t be talking about raising revenue in August, but “normal” will never be the same after this year. I have led the drumbeat to tax the wealthiest New Yorkers to fortify our social services in our great state since before the pandemic hit. It’s now more important than ever before. I’ve written op-eds, appeared in half a dozen press conferences to support it, and even have my own bill to generate $4.5 billion by raising the income tax on multi-millionaires and billionaires so we can fully fund our public schools. 

That’s why I am so glad that Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins announced last week that she supports raising revenues, too. Governor Cuomo continues to fearmonger around this issue by saying the wealthiest New Yorkers will move, but evidence shows that’s not true. We need immediate & long-lasting #BudgetJustice now more than ever. Let’s have millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share. I’m ready to vote on these bills tomorrow. Let’s get it done.

 

COMMUNITY UPDATES

The most important update is about the census. We have a month less than we thought to get this done because of the xenophobia of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and every single person counts. We’re at just over 60% response rate with a little over a month to go. That means we could lose two congressional seats in DC and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for social services each year. 

Please do our community a favor! Text 10 people in your contacts the following message:

Hi there! Have you filled out your census yet? Please take 10 minutes to answer 10 simple questions that will impact the next 10 years in our community. Participate online, by phone, or by mail. Learn more and take the Census today at 2020census.gov.

You can also use these graphics:

 

If you are in need of an A/C or fan, please apply for the Cooling Assistance Program through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). The program is for income-qualified New Yorkers who have not gotten an A/C from HEAP in the past 5 years. The application deadline is August 30, 2020—but it is first come first served, so the sooner you get in your application, the better! The application is by mail only this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions. You can call 212-331-3126 or 311 to ask for more information or get the application mailed to you. Or, you can click here for information and a printable application. Please apply for HEAP if you are in need of an A/C!

Some construction notices:

  • ConEd will be doing work West End Avenue between 58th and 61th St from now until November 20
  • ConEd will also be doing work on West End Avenue northbound between 87th and 91st St till December 18
  • The Washington Bridge project begins soon, so please be aware of how it may impact your travels

 

NMIC has a new one-number intake you can use to get access to all their amazing social services! You can still use the hotline numbers I’ve sent in previous updates, but this is one number to keep handy.

 

Arts & Jazzfest NYC has a conversation and musical event with award-winning Broadway musician Emme Kemp and friends on August 22 and 23 as part of the Homespun Sundays series. See the log-in info below.

     

Dyckman Farmhouse is holding a series of Race Matters discussions this month, each looking at the topic of race from a different perspective. Sign up here for any and all of them!

 

CLOTH food pantry has new dates for volunteers to register. Only 5 volunteers are able to register per shift. Volunteers must be 21 years or older. Distribution shifts are available on Tue, Wed, Thu, and Sat, 8:45am–1pm.

Our Mutual Aid network is in the middle of a revamp, so I’ll write more about how you can get involved in my next update!

In Unity,

RJ

August 19, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

We are moving quickly toward an uncertain fall, and there’s a lot up in the air right now. In this update, I want to share news about voting, a legislative hearing tomorrow, school reopenings, and a tenants march later this week, along with some community updates.

 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

The integrity of November’s election is of paramount importance. Because we’re relying on absentee ballots to keep people safe during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we must do what we can to protect the Post Office. The national conversation about the US Postal Service (USPS) is finally getting somewhere, with legislation pending later this week and a Congressional hearing next week. 

We also need to create contingency plans. In the state legislature, I’ve signed onto my colleague Sen. Hoylman’s bill to authorize boards of elections to create secure ballot drop-off locations. That way, you could still securely turn in your ballot no matter where we are in the fight to save the USPS.

What can you do as a constituent? The online application for an absentee ballot is coming soon. In the meantime, you can email or call to request your absentee ballot. You can find the information on NYC’s Board of Elections website.

One more legislative update: Tomorrow, Thursday, August 20th, the Senate and Assembly will be conducting a joint hearing on the power and communication failures from Tropical Storm Isaias. If you have questions you’d like me to ask utility companies or regulators, please reply to this email! You can watch the hearing live starting at 11am tomorrow here.

 

SCHOOL REOPENINGS

I am having weekly calls with education labor leaders and am regularly in touch with other parent activists about school reopenings. Based on the information I’ve seen, we are not ready to safely reopen schools on September 10. I encourage you to check out this report, Too Many Dealbreakers, by Parents for Responsive, Equitable, and Safe Schools (PRESS). 

If you’re a stakeholder in the schools reopening conversation, I encourage you to sign up to share your concerns TONIGHT at the Panel for Education Policy (PEP) meeting. You can sign up here. The sign up window begins at 5:30pm and closes at 6:15pm. You’re allowed 2 minutes to speak.

 

TENANTS MARCH SUNDAY

On Sunday, August 23 at 1pm, several community groups in Northern Manhattan are coming together for a March to #CancelRent. I’m proud to co-sponsor this march and encourage you to come out if you can do so safely. I am the co-prime sponsor of the latest #CancelRent bill and have enthusiastically signed on to the other two bills as well. 

 

COMMUNITY UPDATES

If you’re a woman and/or person of color and you run a small business that needs additional support to stay afloat, consider applying for a $20,000 Neighborhood Business Grant from LISC NYC. The application is open through Sunday, August 23.

On Friday, August 28, the National Action Network is partnering with the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Caucus of the NYS Legislature to bus people down to D.C. for a Black Lives Matter march. If you’re interested in going please sign up here before Friday.

 

Save the date for an October 24 Walk to End Alzheimer's in Manhattan. You can sign up at act.alz.org/manhattanwalk (or RSVP for another borough’s walk!).

 

If you were previously rejected for Cash Assistance or SNAP because of the $600 unemployment supplement and think you’re now eligible, you should re-apply. Likewise, if you ARE receiving these benefits and aren’t getting that $600/week, you should log on to the ACCESS HRA website, use the app, or call 311 to submit a request for rebudgeting. 

CLOTH food pantry has new dates for volunteers to register. Only 5 volunteers are able to register per shift. Volunteers must be 21 years or older. Distribution shifts are available on Tue, Wed, Thu, and Sat, 8:45am–1pm. 

Our Mutual Aid intake for volunteers and support requests is back up and running! If you’d like to get involved in the mutual aid efforts my office is helping to jump-start, please sign up at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com

That is also the form you should use if you are in need of support during this time. I want to encourage anyone who’s in need of help to reach out, either through the mutual aid form or directly to my office. I’ll say it again: we New Yorkers have to know when to ask for support.

In Unity,

RJ

August 31, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

We’re heading into the month of September when a lot will have to become more clear—school reopening plans, relief for tenants, revenue sources for state and local government, and more. Read on to learn more about what I’ve been up to the past couple weeks, some important events I’m hosting, and community updates.

 

WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO

Two weekends ago I helped out with a parks clean up, joined a “Save our Post Office!” demonstration, and lent a hand at the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem giving out a generous food donation from Fresh Direct to our families in need.

     

 

Last Sunday I marched with over a dozen uptown community groups and other elected public officials in support of three crucial bills to provide meaningful housing relief:

  • S8802 / A10826 (Salazar/Niou) - clears back rent for residential tenants and provides mortgage relief to give all community members a clean slate so we can recover from COVID-19
  • S8667 / A10827 (Myrie/Reyes) - eviction moratorium for 1 year for commercial & residential renters; prevents public/private foreclosures
  • S7628A / A9657 (Kavanagh/Cymbrowitz) - creates Housing Access Voucher Program to provide rental assistance for families and individuals who are homeless or facing imminent loss of their housing.

       

 

On Wednesday of last week I was proud to honor Elsia Vazquez, founder and Executive Director of P.A.’L.A.N.T.E. Harlem, as Senate District 31’s 2020 Woman of Distinction for her work defending the rights and homes of tenants from predatory landlords. You can see my full video tribute to Elsia on my Senate website here.

 

 

Last week I also published an op-ed on school funding with my friend and fellow education warrior Michael Rebell. In the piece, we call out Governor Cuomo for his long-term obstruction to fully funding our schools behavior that’s coming back to haunt us now that our already-underfunded schools are facing 20% cuts. You can read the entire piece here.

 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

I’ve been raising hell about these education cuts with anybody and everybody because we cannot allow them to happen. We’re fighting to get NYC Department of Education to reopen schools responsibly, but there won’t be a fight to wage anymore if the Chancellor has to lay off 9,000 teachers because of these Cuomo cuts. 

My bill S7378, carried by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, would increase the marginal tax rates on multi-millionaires and billionaires no more than a few percentage points, raising $4.5 billion in the process that would plug the existing equity gaps in education funding and stabilize the future of public education in New York State.

With all the urgent legislation we need to pass like this bill, the Ballot Drop Box bill, the Excluded Worker Fund, the HALT Solitary Act, repealing the Walking While Trans Ban, mandating One Fair Wage for tipped workers, and so much more—we HAVE to reconvene. I’ve called on the Leader to bring us back into session as soon as possible. I’m ready to vote on these bills tomorrow. We all need to keep up the pressure to make sure we pass these bills before they sunset at the end of this year.

 

EVENTS COMING UP 

TOMORROW, Sep. 1, my office and the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce will host a Small Business Resource Fair outside of Anne Loftus Playground on Dyckman and Broadway. Together we’ll be offering our businesses: 

  • Consults with myself and my staff
  • Masks and hand sanitizer
  • Information on commercial rents with lawyers available
  • Financial assistance and loan information
  • Trainings on new city and state regulations 
  • How to avoid fines and closure of businesses
  • UI benefit and PPP loan information

Join us!

 

On Sundays in September—the 6th, 13th, and 20th—my office and I will be partnering with local groups and businesses to host Census Sundays where we help our community fill out the census before it closes at the end of the month. Join us at one of the locations below!

 

On September 9, I’m hosting a Forum on Public Safety. How can we decrease reliance on militarized police to keep our communities safe? Experts in mental health, youth programming and school culture, and gun violence prevention weigh in with their perspectives and answer your questions.

I’ll send a separate email about this event later in the week. It promises to be a very exciting conversation.

 

 

COMMUNITY UPDATES

Lots of people applied for the Rent Relief Program that we allocated $100 million toward at the end of May. Applications closed the first week of August and the agency, HCR, is still processing them. As soon as my office learns that decisions are on the way, we’ll let you know.

 

Election Day is November 3. The deadline to register is October 9. 

All of us now can vote by mail, and signing up is easy to do:

  • Go to nycabsentee.com or call 1.866.VOTE.NYC
  • When you fill out the application, select “temporary illness”
  • Your ballot should be mailed to the address you listed in late September
  • At this point, you can mail it or drop it off at a poll site or BOE office

If you prefer to vote in person, please try to vote early between October 24 and November 1. You can visit vote.nyc to find your early voting poll site

 

A 13-story tower of 46 condominium apartments could replace the historic 19th Century Audubon Guest House, the last wooden structure on Riverside Drive, if a Brooklyn real estate developer who made the Public Advocate’s list of New York City’s worst landlords gets his way. Agroup of local residents have formed the Upper Riverside Residents Alliance to block the demolition of the historic house, and prevent the construction of the unwanted, oversized and overpriced condo tower. If you’d like to know more or to join the fight, you can email PreserveRiverside@gmail.com or visit the website at StopTower857.org

   

 

Lincoln Center at Home is offering some amazing content online. You can create an account here to experience pop-up arts education workshops and concerts for families, as well as videos of performances—archival, home-made, documentary, or previously broadcast—by organizations across the Lincoln Center campus. Everything on the portal is free, and new content is added daily. 

 

Dyckman Farmhouse is offering some great events for September. Check out the flyer and links below!

Handwriting the constitution 

Traveling Kitchen for Kids

The Secrets of Inwood, Prehistoric NYC Neighborhood

 

CLOTH food pantry has new dates for volunteers to register. Only 5 volunteers are able to register per shift. Volunteers must be 21 years or older. Distribution shifts are available on Tue, Wed, Thu, and Sat, 8:45am–1pm.  

 

If you’d like to get involved in the mutual aid efforts my office is helping to jump-start, please sign up at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com

That is also the form you should use if you are in need of support during this time. I want to encourage anyone who’s in need of help to reach out, either through the mutual aid form or directly to my office. I’ll say it again: we New Yorkers have to know when to ask for support.

 

In Unity,

RJ

September 11, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

Today is a tough day for many New Yorkers. We lost a lot of heroes 19 years ago today, especially in Inwood and Washington Heights. But still we rise.

 

WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO

Last Tuesday I teamed up with the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce to give away masks, hand sanitizer, and crucial advice to owners of small businesses like nail and hair salons, childcare centers, cafés, and martial arts studios. 

 

I also met with restaurant owners to discuss how we can work together to put pressure on Governor Cuomo to do right by them. The bottom line is that State Liquor Authority and other agencies need to focus on supportive enforcement—not punitive. I am communicating that directly to the Governor and the Mayor.

 

I gave testimony before the City Council Education Committee on the need to take account not just of safety in school reopenings, but the way the looming 20% budget cuts will impact staffing levels to carry out those safety protocols. 

 

This Wednesday we held a Forum on Public Safety that featured a robust discussion with our panelists and audience members. You can view the whole thing on my Facebook page. I’m grateful to our panelists for their time, their work, and their vision.

 

LEGISLATIVE SPOTLIGHT

Last weekend, my Chief of Staff Johanna Garcia published an op-ed in the Daily News about a bill she suggested I introduce that will allow working parents to use Paid Family Leave to assist their children with remote learning. 

It’s such an elegant idea because it won’t cost the state anything extra and it doesn’t create any new bureaucracy, but it will go a long way to help alleviate the burden that working parents—especially working mothers—are shouldering as we go back to school. I’m very proud of her for coming up with this idea! 

You can read the full op-ed here. The bill is live as S8919 and my colleague Assembly Member Michaelle Solages is carrying it in the Assembly.

 

UNEMPLOYMENT NEWS

I know many of my neighbors who were able to collect unemployment insurance had come to rely on the extra $600 a week of Pandemic Unemployment Compensation that ended July 31. After a battle between the federal government and the states, a three-week benefit of $300/week called Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) is now going to be available to those receiving unemployment benefits.

Yesterday, NYS Department of Labor (DOL) announced via Twitter that the $300 LWA payments will begin next week. DOL announced that roughly 2 million New Yorkers have pre-qualified for the program because they have indicated that their unemployment is connected to COVID-19. These claimants should receive an email or text today informing them that they have pre-qualified and that no further action is necessary to receive payments starting next week.

Another 435,000 New Yorkers must submit additional certifications to qualify. Those claimants should receive a DocuSign email today with a link to certify for LWA benefits. Claimants who need to submit additional certifications may also do so by phone beginning today at 833-491-0632.

For those of you who need additional certification, you should begin receiving your payments during the week of September 14–20 if your certification is submitted by 5pm on Sep. 15. After that deadline, payments will begin on a rolling basis. The payments of $300 per week will be retroactive to August 1, the day after the $600 FPUC payments ended. The payments will be for three weeks: the weeks ending August 2, August 9, and August 16. DOL also noted that under federal rules, New York State may be eligible for additional weeks of LWA funding after the funds for those three weeks have been disbursed, but we don’t have information yet on what that would look like.

 

VOTING

Thanks to a bill we passed in May (S8130), you can apply online today to receive an absentee ballot at nycabsentee.com. You can also call 1-866-VOTE-NYC to have an application sent to you. Select “Temporary Illness” on the application as the reason for your request—we expanded the definition in July to include risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 (S8015). Absentee ballots are being mailed out by the beginning of October. If you have to request one, don’t delay!

At our urging, Governor Cuomo authorized secure absentee ballot drop-off boxes at all early voting and election day locations, as well as at 300 additional locations statewide. This way, you can still securely turn in your ballot and stay safe from COVID-19 no matter where we are in the fight to save the US Postal Service.

The early voting period is October 24 through November 1 for several hours each day, with locations to be announced soon online at vote.nyc.

The general election occurs on November 3. Polls are open 6am to 9pm, and you can find your poll site online at nyc.pollsitelocator.com

Even while we expand access to absentee voting, many of us—especially voters with disabilities and those who lack reliable mail service—will vote by casting an in-person ballot. To ensure a safe and smooth experience for in-person voters, poll workers set up and prepare polling locations, welcome voters, verify voter registrations, issue ballots, and help voters navigate the process. Become a poll worker today! Apply here.

 

 

COMMUNITY UPDATES

P.A.’L.A.N.T.E. Harlem is offering a limited number of COVID-19 Rent Relief Grants for Manhattan residents who lost income and can prove unemployment, have a lease agreement, and can provide 2 rent statements March–June 2020. Apply online here.

 

NYC Care is a health care access program that guarantees services at little or no-cost at NYC Health + Hospitals facilities citywide. It’s for New Yorkers who have lived in New York City for at least 6 months and do not qualify or cannot afford health insurance. You can access care regardless of immigration status or ability to pay.

  • Guaranteed first doctor visit within two weeks
  • 24/7 low-cost prescription medication and customer service
  • Mental health and substance-use disorder services
  • Vaccinations and other routine screenings and tests like the COVID-19 test and more!

Find out how you can enroll. Call 1-646-NYC-CARE to enroll TODAY and visit nyccare.nyc for more information.

 

If you or people you know of have complaints about noise coming from a bar or restaurant establishment nearby, please consider seeking support from MEND NYC https://www1.nyc.gov/site/oath/conflict-resolution/mediating-establishment-and-neighbor-disputes.page—a new citywide initiative to provide free mediation and conflict resolution services to address quality-of-life issues that impact both New York City residents and businesses. MEND can help resolve the dispute quickly and in a way that satisfies all parties without involving enforcement.

 

The Emma L. Bowen Community Service Center (Amsterdam and 145th St) will host a FREE health fair on Friday, September 18, 2020. There are both virtual and in-person activities including free health screenings, information, and referrals. I’m going to try to swing by myself! 

 

Most NYC farmers markets in my district remain open as an essential service, and all accept Health Bucks coupons and most accept SNAP. Health Bucks are $2 coupons that can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at all NYC farmers markets. SNAP recipients are eligible to receive Health Bucks. For every $5 spent at farmers markets using SNAP on an EBT card, individuals can receive $2 in Health Bucks. Health Bucks are available year-round at NYC farmers markets that accept SNAP. Find a farmers market here.

For additional information on how individuals can access and use Health Bucks, please refer to this video: How People with SNAP Benefits Use Health Bucks.

Organizations may apply for free Health Bucks to distribute to clients. Organizations can apply from mid-May through November. Health Bucks are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Apply for Health Bucks online.

 

There will be a free virtual concert as part of the 17th Annual Arts JazzFest NYC on Saturday, Sep. 12, at 3pm. You can tune in here.

CLOTH food pantry has new dates for volunteers to register. Only 5 volunteers are able to register per shift. Volunteers must be 21 years or older. Distribution shifts are available on Tue and Sat, 8:45am–1pm.  

 

If you’d like to get involved in the mutual aid efforts my office is helping to jump-start, please sign up at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com. We’re about to gear up some senior wellness calls you can make from the safety of your own home. More on that soon!

That is also the form you should use if you are in need of support during this time. I want to encourage anyone who’s in need of help to reach out, either through the mutual aid form or directly to my office. 

 

In Unity,

RJ

September 21, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

I want to wish all who celebrate Shana Tova u’Metuka. May the new year bring you health and happiness.

Also on Friday, we lost one of the best. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a true champion of the Courts, especially when it came to gender equality and reproductive rights. I extend my condolences to her family and friends. We must fight any attempt to replace her before the country gets to vote in November and before our chosen elected public officials take office in January. We must hold  the line in her memory.

In this brief update, I want to tell you about an important piece of legislation I’m carrying and let you know about some community events coming up.

 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

I have a piece of legislation that would stiffen the penalty for selling illegal guns and deter gun traffickers from bringing illegal guns into our communities, S6649. Grassroots group Harlem Mothers Stop Another Violent End (S.A.V.E.) is hosting a petition to increase support for the bill, and I encourage you to sign on here.

I also want to let you know that Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. is observing the 2020 National Day of Remembrance with a Call to Action Rally to support this NYS Gun Kingpin Legislation. Join us on Friday, Sep. 25, 12–2pm at 306A West 128th Street, New York, NY 10027. You can also call Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. founder Jackie Rowe-Adams at (212) 234-0112 for more information.

 

CENSUS + VOTER REGISTRATION

The Census ends on September 30! We have to pull out all the stops to increase our state’s response rate in these final 9 days. Get involved with city-wide efforts here.

We also have to get out the vote: for National Voter Registration Day (9/22) tomorrow, join DemocracyNYC to Text Out the Vote, with shifts available from 9am until 8pm!

 

COMMUNITY UPDATES

Columbia University Medical Center’s Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center has two great events coming up. The first is The Faces of Depression: Learn about depression through personal stories and from healthcare professionals tomorrow, Tuesday, Sep. 22, 6:30–8:30pm. The second concludes Prostate Cancer Awareness month next Wednesday, Sep. 30, 7–8pm called Prostate Health: What you Need to Know. You can check out the flyers below!

On Thursday 9/24, I’ll be stopping by Lincoln Center’s free food distribution, in partnership with the Food Bank for New York City. The event starts at 11am. Anyone in need may stop by to receive fresh produce, plant-based protein, frozen prepared meals and shelf stable pantry items. Wear a mask and bring your own cart!

 

Join the NYC Commission on Human Rights to Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month in a conversation about Human Rights, Race, Colorism and Community on Thursday Sep. 24, 6:30–8:00pm. [ZOOM LINK] Panelists include Director of the AfroLatin@ Project Amilcar Priestley and Professor Johanna Fernandez of CUNY.

 

If you’d like to get involved in the mutual aid efforts my office is helping to jump-start, please sign up at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com. We’re about to gear up some senior wellness calls you can make from the safety of your own home. More on that soon!

That is also the form you should use if you are in need of support during this time. I want to encourage anyone who’s in need of help to reach out, either through the mutual aid form or directly to my office. 

 

In Unity,

RJ

October 2, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

I hope you are staying safe and well in these uncertain times. This is the last update I will be providing before the last day of voting on November 3. In the next month, I encourage you to follow my accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook so you can keep up with what I’m doing and provide feedback.

Everyone in the district should be receiving a physical copy of my newsletter shortly. You can read it online here.

 

COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS

We must remain vigilant. As schools reopen and indoor dining resumes, we are on a knife’s edge between a new wave and the low numbers we’ve seen for a few months. In my district, the 10040 ZIP code of lower Inwood and upper Washington Heights made it onto the list of 20 “hotspots” in New York State earlier this week. Please follow the “Core Four” guidelines to stay safe.

 

CENSUS EXTENDED + VOTING

A judge last week ruled that the Census 2020 efforts must continue through October 31! That gives us more time to make sure everybody gets counted. Stay tuned on social media for more outreach efforts my office will be supporting, and sign up for your own volunteering here.

(Including this information again about voting because it’s so important!)

You can apply online today to receive an absentee ballot at nycabsentee.com. You can also call 1-866-VOTE-NYC to have an application sent to you. Select “Temporary Illness” on the application as the reason for your request—we expanded the definition in July to include risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 (S8015). Absentee ballots are being mailed out by the beginning of October. If you have to request one, don’t delay!

*My office has not received any complaints of absentee ballot issues in our district, but please follow all instructions on the ballot to make sure it’s counted properly!*

At our urging, Governor Cuomo authorized secure absentee ballot drop-off boxes at all early voting and election day locations, as well as at 300 additional locations statewide. This way, you can still securely turn in your ballot and stay safe from COVID-19 no matter where we are in the fight to save the US Postal Service.

The NYC BOE started mailing out absentee ballots on Sep 18. If you are concerned about the status of your absentee ballot, you can track it at online at https://nycabsentee.com/tracking.

The early voting period is October 24 through November 1:

  • Saturday, Oct 24, 10am–4pm
  • Sunday, Oct 25, 10am–4pm
  • Monday, Oct 26, 7am–3pm
  • Tuesday, Oct 27, 12–8pm
  • Wednesday, Oct 28, 12–8pm
  • Thursday, Oct 29, 10am–6pm
  • Friday, Oct 30, 7am–3pm
  • Saturday, Oct 31, 10am–4pm
  • Sunday, Nov 1,10am–4pm

You have to look up your early voting location, which you can do here. The locations in our district include:

  • JHS 143 Eleanor Roosevelt, 511 West 182nd Street 10033
  • Columbia University Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion, 1150 St. Nicholas Avenue 10032
  • Fort Washington Avenue Armory, 216 Ft. Washington Avenue 10032
  • The Forum, 601 West 125th Street 10027
  • Madison Square Garden - Lobby, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza 10001

The general election occurs on November 3. Polls are open 6am to 9pm, and you can find your poll site online at nyc.pollsitelocator.com

 

POLICY UPDATES

We cannot wait on Washington to help us. We must raise revenues at the State level now to preserve vital social services and funding for our Community-Based Organizations. I remain ready to vote TOMORROW on these key bills that will ensure the wealthiest New Yorkers pay their fair share. Remember, billionaires have become over $500 billion wealthier during the pandemic. I know they’re good for it.

 

New legislation

I’m introducing a bill to rein in the State Liquor Authority by standardizing their enforcement procedures and moving them away from punitive measures and toward more supportive ones. I’m also putting forward a bill to keep ICE away from schools, hospitals, and other key social service sites. Stay tuned for more news!

 

Eviction Moratoria

The Governor issued an executive order on Tuesday regarding evictions and the Tenant Safe Harbor Act. The good news is that this order now prevents evictions from being executed against tenants who were behind on rent before March 1, 2020. We still have a LOT of work to do, though, because the order still allows landlords to initiate new eviction proceedings for tenants who aren’t covered by the CDC order or the Tenant Safe Harbor Act.

I reiterate my support for a blanket eviction moratorium at the State level that extends for a year after the state of emergency ends and has very narrow carve outs for tenants cohabitating with abusers. 

 

NYCHA bill signed into law

I am so pleased that the Governor finally signed my colleague Senator Comrie’s bill S5342 that requires NYCHA to include notice in lease documents that informs a tenant of the ability to add legal occupants to their lease. Too often, these procedures are buried and contribute to confusion and hardship for NYCHA residents.

 

Federal funding for food programs

On Wednesday, Congress reached an agreement to fund the government through Dec 11. That includes an additional $8 billion for nutrition benefits and some important regulatory waivers through FY 2021, including measures to help families with school-aged children buy groceries and flexibility for school districts to make meals more accessible to students.

Additionally, the bill extends waivers for the National School Lunch Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) that were included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act until Sep 30, 2021. This waiver allows WIC agencies to operate largely remotely so pregnant people and those with young children don’t have to apply for the program or pick up their benefits in person.

The bill also extends the Pandemic-EBT through September of 2021, and expands the program to include younger children who might have received meals at daycares that are closed or operating on reduced hours. As I get more information about when those P-EBT payments will go out, I will let you know.

 

FOOD GIVEAWAY ON TUESDAY

On Tuesday, October 6, at 1pm, I am partnering with Fidelis Care, St. Jude’s, and Altagracia Faith and Justice Works to give away fresh produce for up to 75 people. Meet in the parking lot of St. Jude’s (439 W 204th St)

PSA TO KEEP OUR COMMUNITY CLEAN

A few basic messages: 

Don’t throw your personal trash in the corner cans, especially if they’re overflowing! 

Curb your dog, please!

Be considerate of others if you’re driving with music on.

These are PUBLIC HEALTH issues!!

 

COMMUNITY UPDATES

Outer Seed Shadow runs some amazing community gardens and culturally responsive programming at Dyckman and Marble Hill Houses, but this year has forced some reinventing: join them on TV for their first "Soul Gardens" workshop on BronxNet at 12pm tomorrow, Oct 3. You can also watch live at www.bronxnet.org/watch.

 

The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Alliance Annual 2020 Fall Festival has gone virtual—tomorrow (Saturday) streaming 10am-4pm on Facebook Live!  You can also check out their October events below

 

Fire Prevention Week starts tomorrow. I am so thankful for the work of the FDNY earlier this week to save lives at a fire on W 158th St. That fire was started by an overloaded extension cord. Visit these locations in or near my district to make sure you know how to address fire hazards in your apartment:

  • W 181st St & St. Nicholas Ave, 12–4pm on Saturday, Oct 3 (tomorrow!)
  • Broadway & W 125th St, 3–7pm on Thursday, Oct 8
  • W 79th St & Broadway, 12–4pm on Saturday, Oct 10

 

Because the seasons are changing and our access to sunlight is decreasing, I want to let you know that the National Alliance on Mental Illness NYC is hosting Treating Depression: Myths and Realities by NAMI NYC Public Education Events Wednesday October 28th, 2020 from 4-5:15pm. Register on Eventbrite.

The 3rd Annual Alzheimer’s Hispanic Symposium will be held on Friday, October 9, 10am–12:30pm in English and then followed by Spanish. Register for the Zoom link or call 800.272.3900.

 

CLOTH food pantry has new dates for volunteers to register. Only 5 volunteers are able to register per shift. Volunteers must be 21 years or older. Distribution shifts are available on Tue and Sat, 8:45am–1pm.

If you’d like to get involved in the mutual aid efforts my office is helping to jump-start, please sign up at MutualAid.senatorjackson.com. We’re about to gear up some senior wellness calls you can make from the safety of your own home. More on that soon!

MutualAid.senatorjackson.com is also the form you should use if you are in need of support during this time. I want to encourage anyone who’s in need of help to reach out, either through the mutual aid form or directly to my office. 

In Unity,

RJ

P.S. - One more thing we're working on with some dedicated mutual aid volunteers is developing a network of tutors for K–8 students who need additional support with remote or hybrid learning. If you have experience and/or time to give, please fill out this form and we'll be in touch!

November 6, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

This is my first e-update in a while. Now that the elections are over, my team and I have access to this email list once again and we’ll go back to two or three updates a month.

So much is happening. Before we dig in, I want to thank the voters of the 31st Senatorial District for placing your trust in me once more to represent you in Albany for another two years. It’s truly a honor.

In this update, you can read what I’ve been up to recently, learn about some upcoming events my office is putting together, and browse our community updates.

WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO
 

Two Wednesdays ago I held a lunchtime Tenant Info Session with the great people at Mobilization for Justice and the Met Council on Housing. We discussed:

- the state of eviction protections in New York

- what to do if your landlord files papers to begin eviction proceedings

- and how to build a strong tenants association to keep you and your neighbors safe

It was a very informative session, and you can view it on my Facebook page.

 

I’ve been very active leading up to the elections in spreading the word about the Working Families Party. Regardless of your political views, so-called “minor” parties are an important part of democracy here in New York. Governor Cuomo forced through a set of changes that required these parties to meet a much higher threshold to maintain their status: while it used to be 50,000 votes every four years, it’s now 130,000 votes or 2% of the total, whichever was greater, every two years. The Working Families Party and the Conservative party were able to meet those thresholds this year, and that’s a good thing for democracy.

 

Yesterday I hosted a 30-minute episode of Represent NYC on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN). My friends Rev. Dr. Damaris Whittaker of Fort Washington Collegiate Church and political consultant Richie Fife joined me to talk about access to the ballot through early voting, the current state of affairs in the national and state elections, and where we go from here. Check us out!

 
 
 
 
 
 

Today I collaborated with Ryan Health on the first of four free flu vaccine drives in Northern Manhattan, this one in Marble Hill. Read below for more dates and times near you! 

 
 
POLICY UPDATE
 

Last week, I held a press conference with Assemblymember Michaelle Solages of Long Island and my very own Chief of Staff Johanna Garcia, who came up with a game-changing piece of legislation to ease the burden of working families whose children are learning remotely. I’ve introduced this bill and believe it’s necessary to staunch the loss of parents—especially women—from the workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 economic crisis. Check out some of our media coverage for Johanna’s bill below.

CBS 2

Politico (paywalled)

One of my bills was sent to the governor for a signature recently, S3320. It requires landlords comply with consent orders for court-mandated repairs within 60 days of receipt. I’ll write more next time if it becomes law, but this is a really special bill for me because I sponsored a resolution urging its passage when I was in the City Council 15 years ago.

Important note for tenants: If you received eviction papers from your landlord before the courts shut down in March, contact your attorney or a legal service provider immediately. The 10-day window to answer those papers was on pause for all these months, but it began counting down again on Monday. If a tenant doesn’t respond, the court can issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord, which can make eviction much harder to avoid. If you need a free consultation, please reach out to Mobilization for Justice first thing Monday at (212) 417-3888.

 
UPCOMING EVENTS
 
 
 
 
 

On Sunday, Nov. 8, at 1pm I’m co-sponsoring an Uptown Rally to Protect the Results of the 2020 election in Mitchell Square at 167th St and Broadway. We will gather peacefully with masks and social distancing to call for every vote to be counted.

Please spread the word and consider joining us Sunday at 1pm!

 
 

Later that day, Sunday, I’m collaborating with Coalición Mexicana and Inwood Art Works to offer a belated Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration at IS 52.

Join us on the track at Vermilyea for a communal ofrenda, a screening of the beloved 2017 film Coco, and candy for kids!

Bring a blanket to sit on and some layers to keep warm as the sun sets.

Please RSVP so we can observe public health guidelines.

 
 
 
 

On Tuesday we’ll do the 2nd of our 4-stop flu vaccine drive, this time in Inwood. Ryan Health will offer free flu shots at 10th Ave and 204th St, along the basketball courts and the playground.

You can sign up for an appointment online at flushot.senatorjackson.com or call my office at 212.544.0173 to make an appointment.

No insurance or identification are needed. Masks are required and will be provided as needed. Come get your flu shot so you’re protected this winter.

 
 
COMMUNITY UPDATES
 

*Schools update* Fully remote DOE families only have one option to opt-in to blended learning (students learn in the school building for part of the week and remotely at home the rest of the week). This is a change from the four opportunities promised this summer, and one that I have spoken out against. Parents deserve better from the DOE during this time when they’re balancing so much.

As it stands, through Sunday, November 15, families will be able to fill out this form indicating their wish to change learning preferences. Students who change from remote to blended will begin in-person between the weeks of November 30 and December 7, and will be informed by their school their start date and schedule. Schools will make every effort to accommodate these requests based on programming and space capacity.

 
 
 
 
 
Cultural events

Outer Seed Shadow runs some amazing community gardens and culturally responsive programming at Dyckman and Marble Hill Houses, and now they’ve gone virtual:

Join them on TV for their second "Soul Gardens" workshop on BronxNet at 12pm tomorrow, Nov 7.

You can also watch live at www.bronxnet.org/watch.

 

UWS Live Tuesdays: Afro Roots from Goddard Riverside Community Arts continues on Tuesday, November 10th, at 7:30pm with internationally celebrated bala master Famoro Dioubate.

 
 

A new episode of Inwood Art Works’ podcast On Air has just dropped, featuring Dominican composer and pianist, Miguel Tejada.

Tru Titanz, an eight-member fusion band of Caribbean genres and Hip-Hop, joins Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance on Thursday evening.

 

Mutual aid tutoring program—volunteer opportunity!

We’re expanding the ranks of volunteer tutors as we prepare to start matching students with teachers. There’s still plenty of time to become a tutor! You can sign up on this Airtable form and one of our amazing mutual aid volunteers will be in touch.

In Unity,

RJ

November 16, 2020 Read More

Dear Neighbors,

COVID-19 is on the rise again in NYC. We’ve made so many sacrifices so far and many of us have already lost so much. We still must do our part to slow the spread this holiday season. 
I’m hitting the streets in hot-spot ZIP codes uptown with Test & Trace to distribute masks and hand sanitizers. I’m also passing along some guidance from NYC Department of Health below. Please read it carefully and share widely.

WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO
 
 

Last Monday I was honored to serve on a panel about the importance of Community Schools, a model where the school becomes a community hub that serves an expanded set of stakeholders to include students’ families and neighborhoods.

I helped found the first Community School in NYC back in the early 1990s at PS 5, the Ellen Lurie School, so it was a real pleasure to speak on the topic almost 3 decades later. You can watch the panel on YouTube if you’re interested in learning more!

 
 

On Tuesday we had our second flu shot clinic with Ryan Health and ran out of vaccines it was so successful! See below for our next date *tomorrow.*

I also got the chance to shoot some hoops at the Dyckman Courts on that warm November afternoon. It’s so important to stay active, especially as we face a rise in the pandemic once more.

 
 

Last Thursday afternoon we honored our 2020 Veteran of Distinction for Senate District 31, Marines veteran and lifelong Inwoodite John Higgins, in an intimate ceremony in the church garden across from his building. John is an advocate for environmental justice and is dedicated to recognizing his fallen comrade, Joe Vad, for his bravery in battle with a local memorial.

Congratulations, John. And thank you for your service and your advocacy.

 
 
 

Today I spent the afternoon picking up 80 turkeys from the National Supermarket Association and dropping them off at places of need within our district. I thank the NSA for their generosity. It’s so critical, especially at this time of year and with COVID-19 creeping back, that we make sure families have food to put on the table.

 
 
POLICY UPDATE
 

This morning I held a press conference with my colleague Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and a great group of housing advocates about a bill we passed that just got signed into law. S3320 has a long history for both of us, coming out of the tragic death of Jashawn Parker in 2002 at the hands of landlord neglect.

I helped pass a resolution in the City Council calling on the NYS Senate to pass the bill AM Dinowitz got passed in the Assembly for 17 years straight. The law now says court-ordered repairs must be made within 60 days of those orders. No more fooling around. 

 

We’re about to have to make some more tough decisions as a city and a state as COVID-19 numbers continue to rise. I have full faith in our public health experts and urge that they be given the space to lead. I also need to emphasize the importance of really and truly centering equity, especially when it comes to education. The desire to keep schools open is a noble one, but it must come with the desire to improve the current system so it can work for all families. And it must happen in concert with decisions to close other industries so our approach can be uniformly guided by the science.

 
UPCOMING EVENTS
 

Tomorrow, Tuesday, we’ll be collaborating with Ryan Health for our 3rd free flu shot drive at La Plaza de las Américas at 175th St and Wadsworth. We still have a few socially-distanced appointments available, so call 212.544.0173 in the morning or drop by to see if we can squeeze you in! 

We’ll also be teaming up with NYC Test + Trace Corps to distribute free masks and hand sanitizer, so stop by even if you aren’t planning to get a flu shot!

 
 

Next Monday, 11/23, I’ll be stopping by the West Side Campaign Against Hunger to help in their distribution of holiday meals and thank them for all the amazing work they’ve done to keep our community fed so far during this pandemic. You can swing by to pick up food on November 23rd at 1pm at 263 W. 86th St.

Next Tuesday, 11/24, we’ll be doing our final flu shot drive outside of CLOTH at 159th St and Amsterdam Ave. We have more slots available there, so sign up at flushot.senatorjackson.com or give us a call to make an appointment!

 
COMMUNITY UPDATES
 

The holidays can be hard for a lot of people as it is, and this year proves to be even more difficult. At the same time, we have an opportunity to stop a second wave in New York City, and in large part it hinges on us making smart but tough decisions: please follow NYC Department of Health guidelines and consider spending Thanksgiving with your loved ones virtually. If you are going to gather, you must follow NYS guidelines of no more than 10 people in an apartment. 

 
 
 

As always, remember the core guidelines:

- stay home if you’re sick

- keep 6 feet of distance

- wear a face covering

- keep your hands clean

- and get tested regularly

 
 

NAMI-NYC is offering Ending the Silence For Families tomorrow 4–5pm. It’s a 1-hour presentation for parents, caregivers, and other family of middle or high school aged tweens and teens about young people’s mental health and how to talk with them about it—very important now during the pandemic more than ever before.

 

Columbia University Medical Center has an event later this week that might be of interest:

Lung Health & The Risks of Tobacco During COVID on Thursday, November 19th at 3pm. Register here.

 
 
 
 
 

There are Thanksgiving food giveaways that I want to highlight: 

Goddard Riverside has their Thanksgiving Dinner pick-up at their main location, 593 Columbus Ave (@88th St) 12–3pm on November 26th, Thanksgiving Day itself.

 
 

A couple of young professionals approached my office about an event they’re doing at Incarnation Church (570 W 175th St) on November 27th 11am–1pm called Leftovers with Love for those impacted by COVID-19. Please stop by if you’re in need.

 
 

The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) helps low-income people pay for heating. Enrollment is open today! See if you qualify online or call my office at 212.544.0173.

 
 

CLOTH food pantry has new dates for volunteers to register. Only 5 volunteers are able to register per shift. Volunteers must be 21 years or older. Distribution shifts are available on Tue and Sat, 8:45am–1pm.

In Unity,

RJ