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District 39

Brad Lander

Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Gowanus, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, Kensington

This list of resources on coping with the coronavirus crisis is being regularly updated. If you have resources you want to add, please email lander@council.nyc.gov. To sign up for email updates click here. *Last updated: August 13, 8:30 AM*

As the coronavirus outbreak and response continue to escalate, we wanted to keep you as informed as possible about what we are doing to keep people safe and healthy, and also how we can work together (virtually) as neighbors to help out. I remain deeply grateful for the solidarity and thoughtfulness of this community in times of crisis. ~Brad

Current Public Health Directives

You can follow updates from the City at nyc.gov/coronavirus, and from the State here. You can sign up for updates from the city by texting COVID to 692-692. (to get the updates en español, envíe el mensaje COVIDESP a 692-692). You can also call the New York State Department of Health’s Novel Corona Virus Hotline 24-hour hotline at 1-888-364-3065. 

New York entered Phase 4 of reopening on July 20th. Most businesses are operating at reduced capacity, indoor dining remains closed as are gyms, malls and museums.  Masks are required and people must stay 6 feet apart as much as possible. For guidance on this policy, please visit esd.ny.gov.

If you or a loved one is sick: Stay home, and call your doctor. New Yorkers can call 311 to get routed to a healthcare provider, or call the New York Presbyterian Hospital hotline at: 646-697-4000. If symptoms worsen (trouble breathing, persistent chest pain or other warning signs), head to the emergency room.

Testing: Now that tests are more widely available and hospitalizations are down, New Yorkers are encouraged to get a diagnostic test if they 1) have COVID-19 symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath, loss of appetite or smell), regardless of age, chronic conditions, or occupation, 2) believe they have been exposed to the virus (and really, who doesn’t?), or 3) work in a congregate residential setting (nursing home, shelter, or adult care facility), regardless of symptoms. So, when in doubt, get tested. The City now has 29 testing sites across every borough.

More information and testing locations can be found hereCurrently, private testing sites are seeing 7-14 days of delay in returning results. The city-run sites through Health & Hospitals have faster turn around times.

Antibody tests are also becoming more widely available. While diagnostic tests tell you if you have the virus at the point in time you are tested (and therefore must remain in isolation for 14 days, and help with tracing contacts to prevent spread), antibody tests tell you if you had the virus at some point in the past. There is still no conclusive evidence that having had the virus would make you immune, so a positive test shouldn’t change your behavior (i.e. wear a mask and keep your distance still). But getting tested can help researchers and policymakers better understand the spread of the virus. If you have sufficient antibody levels you could be eligible to donate plasma to help those still struggling against the virus. Antibody tests are now available at most urgent care facilities, and the City has set up one site per borough to provide free testing by appointment, visit here to see if you qualify and make an appointment.

(Regardless of whether you have antibodies, please consider donating blood. NYC’s blood supply is dangerously low right now).

Financial Assistance:

Due to the impact of COVID-19 on New York City’s workforce, the City of New York has developed a list of resources for those who may be unemployed due to COVID-19 or are seeking additional assistance with food and rent or other expenses. Families seeking emergency assistance for evictions, food, rent or utilities can call 311 to get referred to legal assistance, food pantries, cash assistance, and SNAP/food stamp applications, or visit Access HRA.

Unemployment Insurance: File a claim here. The State has waived the 7 day waiting period for those out of work due to COVID-19. For specific questions about applying for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance as a freelancers, visit here.

Food Assistance. In this time of historic high unemployment, more New Yorkers are experiencing food insecurity for the first time. Grab-and-Go meals are available at specific NYC school sites. No one will be turned away. Anyone who shows up will be able pick up three meals. The hours are 7:30 – 11:30 am for families and children, 11:30 – 1:30 for adults. Find locations here, or text “NYCFOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877.

The City is also establishing a home-delivered meals program for people who do not have other means of accessing food. The application for food delivery assistance is here.

Food pantries and mutual aid organizations have stepped up to fill the gap. Here are a few in our area:
Kensington: People in Need
Borough Park: Masbia Soup Kitchen
South Slope: Camp Friendship Food Pantry
North Slope: Brooklyn Relief Kitchen

For a more complete list of food pantries, visit here or see the list of mutual aid organizations at the bottom of this page.

Housing and Utilities: Most evictions proceedings are on hold through at least October 1. For those who had eviction warrants before March 17, a conference with a judge will be required before any proceedings moved forward. Cases are continued to be filed however. There is still an effort at the state level to put a full moratorium on evictions for as long as this crisis continues, and campaigns to cancel rent are ongoing. Here is a comprehensive resource on your current tenant rights and answers to common eviction questions. There is a statewide moratorium on all utility shutoffs—water, gas, electric, and telephone for the duration of the crisis.

Health Insurance: You can still enroll for health insurance on the New York health plan marketplace. If you lost your job or health coverage, or are uninsured, you can enroll in a plan today at nystateofhealth.ny.gov. You may also qualify for health care coverage from Medicaid or Child Health Plus through the marketplace. 

Mental Health: This crisis moment can be a big strain on mental health. The State has set up a COVID-19 Mental Health hotline. For free emotional support, consultation and referral to a provider, you can call 1-844-863-9314. NYC Well is also available for individuals looking to receive immediate or ongoing assistance. Here is a good compilation of resources for managing stress and anxiety or accessing teletherapy and other forms of support. 

Paid Sick Leave: New York City’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law provides a minimum of 5 days paid sick leave for NYC employees. The State legislature passed legislation to provide emergency paid sick leave up to two weeks for employees who test positive for the virus or are told to quarantine. The federal government also passed legislation providing emergency paid sick leave, but only to employees of businesses with between 50 and 500 employees, just a fraction of the workforce. While these are good steps, both efforts leave out hundreds of thousands of workers in NY who are independent contractors, including many misclassified workers like food delivery workers and for hire drivers. I am continuing to push legislation to expand paid sick leave to reach many more people, both now and in the long term.

Small Businesses: For information about federal small business grants, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), visit here.

Interest-free loans are available through my office for small businesses in District 39. More details here.

City Council passed legislation in April to cap the fees that third party delivery companies (like Seamless and GrubHub) charge restaurants. We suspended sidewalk cafe fees, took action to stop harassment of  commercial and residential tenants, and protected small business owners from losing everything as a result of personal liability for their commercial leases. We are also working on a plan to open streets up for open air dining and other commercial activity.

More than that will be required. We’re going to need Depression-style public policy here: a moratorium on evictions, suspension or delay of mortgage and tax payments, and economic recovery payments to small business and families. I’ll fight hard for all of that (and to make sure it does not only reward corporate and investor interests, as so often happens).

Not-for-profit organizations: Our not-for-profit organizations and human service providers are essential. I called for the City to more aggressively pursue measures to make sure non-profits get paid for their work and can pay their employees. The City put out some guidance for health and human services non-profits and announced several other measures, including guaranteed contract payments to those human service organizations, even if they can no longer meet their contractual obligations. Here is an extensive list of resources for nonprofits.

Student Debt: New York’s Department of Financial Services reached an agreement with private student loan companies to provide temporary relief to those struggling to pay down debts due to the coronavirus. The agreement defers loan payments for 90 days and waives late fees, and should provide some relief for more than 300,000 New Yorkers. (The federal CARES Act deferred payments for most federal student loans until September, without additional interest.)

Burial Assistance: The Human Resources Administration (HRA) has increased their burial assistance allowance and cap on burial costs. The burial allowance is increasing from $900 to $1,700 and the cap on burial costs is increasing from $1,700 to $3,400. Additionally, they have extended the time frame for when you can apply to 120 days from the date of the individual’s death. Applications that were received on or after March 12, 2020 will be considered for the increased burial assistance allowance, regardless of immigration status. You can call the NYC HRA Office of Burial Services at (929) 252-7731.

Caring for Our Seniors: 

We know that many people are concerned about the increased risk to older people. Here are the CDC’s recommendations for higher-risk populations.

Many grocery stores are now offering senior-only shopping hours in the early morning to help more vulnerable shoppers stay safe.

Working with service providers Heights and Hills in Brooklyn and Greenwich House in Manhattan, our office set up a program to provide regular weekly check in calls to seniors at risk of isolation during the pandemic. Learn more and sign up to volunteer with the Neighbor Network here.

Caring for Our Children: 

A more complete list of resources for parents, updates from the DOE and recordings from our past parent support calls are collected here.

Remote learning: Educators are doing their best to teach remotely. More details and resources from the DOE on remote learning are here.

Regional Enrichment Centers: Some schools are open as enrichment centers to provide childcare, food and support for children of essential workers and those who cannot stay home. Here is the enrollment form.

Technology access: NYC is buying and giving out Ipads for students who do not have access to technology at home (people can fill out the form to request tech here), and Spectrum is making internet access free for those who do not already have it for the next two months.

Meals for schoolchildren:  Grab-and-go meals are available for students between 7:30 and 11:30 am at any public school. Meals are also available for parents and any adults from 11:30 to 1:30.

Know a college student looking to help others or a younger student looking for help with their schoolwork? Sign up to volunteer or get free tutoring help here.

Volunteering

Supporting Seniors: Sign up with the Neighbor Network to make regular friendly check in calls to isolated seniors. More information here.

In Person Food Support:

  • Masbia Soup Kitchen in Boro Park and Flatbush is in urgent need of volunteers to help package food for delivery. Work can be done with minimal contact, and they have gloves and cleaning supplies. Sign up here.
  • City Harvest: Help package food into family-sized portions for delivery. Sign up here.
  • Sign up with Invisible Hands: Deliver groceries and other supplies to elderly and immunocompromised people in your neighborhood. More information and sign up here.
  • Camp Friendship Food Pantry: Help receive and distribute deliveries. More information here.

Mutual Aid: Join a neighborhood mutual aid group to connect with your immediate community. This new website has collected ways to plug into mutual aid networks across the city. Or join one of these neighborhood-specific Facebook groups: 

Census outreach: Due to the pandemic, the U.S. Census has paused field operations, but it is no less critical that we make sure all New Yorkers are counted. The next 10 years of federal resources and representation for our community are on the line. Fill out the Census here if you haven’t already, and sign up to join a text-a-thon to encourage others to do so.

Donate blood: Health officials are saying there will soon be a blood shortage becuase of how many blood drives have been cancelled. To donate, call 800-933-2566 or go to www.nybc.org.

Places to Donate Supplies

Mask Crusaders PPE Donations: Sign up to donate supplies you or your organization may have available to help keep front line health professionals safe.

Social service organizations CAMBA, CHiPS, and Heights and Hills which are serving vulnerable populations (homeless and elderly) are in need of donations of cleaning supplies. Donations can be dropped off at their offices.
CAMBA: 1720 Church Avenue, 2nd Fl., 718) 287-2600.
CHiPS: 200 4th Ave., (718) 237-2962
Heights and Hills: 81 Willoughby Street, suite 302, 718 596-8789 (specific need of toilet paper, soap and toothpaste for elderly clients).

Buy Supplies for CHiPS Soup Kitchen. CHiPS is in need of takeout containers, plastic grocery/to-go bags, and ziplock bags. They also need sandwich bread, tuna, mayo, cold cuts, peanut butter, jelly, fruit cups, applesauce, granola/snack bars, paper napkins, plastic cutlery, and juice boxes/canned drinks. You can donate by ordering through the CHiPS Wish List on Amazon, or delivering non-perishable items to 200 4th Avenue, Brooklyn. Call 718 237 2962 and someone will come down to receive your donation. 

CHiPS is also providing meals to those in need outside their building every day from 11am-1pm, and is accepting donations of individually wrapped meals during those windows.

Have a prepaid MetroCard you aren’t using? Sign up here to give you MetroCard to an essential worker.

Places to Donate Money

  • The Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation created a COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to provide emergency assistance to restaurant industry workers. Here is a list of resources for workers who’ve been directly impacted by the mass restaurant closings. You can donate here.
  • Food Bank for New York City is supplying the city’s food pantries and soup kitchens which are in growing demand. Donate here.
  • Citymeals on Wheels are providing emergency meals for hundreds of thousands of seniors, working in partnership with local senior centers. Donate here
  • City Harvest which is rescuing food from restaurants to provide for food pantries. Donate here
  • If you are ordering groceries from Fresh Direct, you can add a donation to NY Common Pantry to help another family with their groceries, click here for more information.
  • Dumplings Against Hate: Funds raised go to Asian Americans For Equality’s Emergency Small Business Relief Fund. Donate here.
  • Domestic Workers Alliance: Coronavirus Care Fund for their domestic worker members
  • One Fair Wage: Emergency Coronavirus Tipped and Service Worker Support Fund
  • Make the Road New York: COVID Emergency Response Fund for their immigrant and low-income members
  • Freelancers Union has started an emergency fund for freelancers. You can donate here, applications for relief will open April 2nd, more FAQ answers are here.

Additional resources

Centers for Disease Control: Most up-to-date information.
NYC Health and Hospitals: Nursing home and patient visitor policy
Hand in Hand, the Domestic Employers Network: How to be a fair employer during coronavirus.

Please do what you can to stay safe and sane in these very anxious times. I’m finding that Prospect Park remains a very beautiful place for a walk, where you can practice social distancing and spend time alone or with family or a friend. 

We’ve got a long way to go, and the next few months are going to be hard ones. But it is still by working together (even if more virtually than usual), supporting those who are most vulnerable, looking out for loved ones and neighbors, and building social solidarity, that we are going to get through them.