I hope you and your families are doing well as we move into Spring. March marks the one-year anniversary since the global COVID-19 pandemic started affecting our communities, health, safety, emotional well-being, small businesses, schools and our daily lives. While this pandemic has exposed longstanding gaps in health, education, human services and others, it has also changed the ways we connect, support and stand up for each other.
My staff and I have been working tirelessly for our neighborhoods since the start of the crisis to ensure that our residents are kept safe, up to date and receive the best assistance possible with any issue or concern. We are proud that since March 2020 we have delivered over 110,000 food boxes, 85,000 face masks, conducted 159 weekly cleanups and graffiti removals, provided over 1,900 COVID-19 testing, over 550 constituents helped to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, sponsored over 36 Tele-Townhalls to address issues and resources available, and much more.
Below are some of the highlights we have been working on since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic:
BUDGET: As part of the NYC Council budget allocations for Fiscal Year 2021, I am proud to provide discretionary and capital funding of a total of over $8.2 million to schools, senior centers, hospitals, police stations, parks, animal care, community organizations and others for the necessary initiatives and programs such as quality of life, food pantries, senior programs, technology, safety, neighborhood cleanups, health and safety, education and much more.
LEGISLATION: As our community seeks to cope with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been successful in supporting legislation that will directly help those in need such as to ensure that there is a vaccination plan for homebound seniors, protect small businesses against tech companies seeking to profit from the pandemic as well as fighting to dedicate more resources to increase COVID-19 testing throughout the district.
CONSTITUENT AFFAIRS: My District Office has worked on over 2,400 cases since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Although remotely, our Constituent Affairs staff has assisted constituents with issues and concerns such as unemployment, food insecurity, health and safety, housing issues, senior benefits, illegal parking, noise complaints, and so much more.
STAY IN TOUCH WITH US: We have been here for you throughout this crisis. Please find below some of our initiatives and ways you can further stay in touch with us:
Week in Review: Our Week in Review is one of the best ways to stay in touch with us on a weekly basis to receive updates on community issues, food and face mask distributions, surveys, upcoming events, weekly community cleanups, budget and legislation updates, and more. Sign up by emailing MGjonaj@council.nyc.gov.
Food Distributions: Food insecurity is one of the greatest concerns brought by this pandemic. If you are in need of food or know someone who does in District 13, please contact my office at (718) 931-1721 or email us at MGjonaj@council.nyc.gov for more information on locations and times.
Clean Up District 13 Initiatives: If you are a community group, civic association, tenant association, resident or religious group, among others, call our office to schedule a clean-up in partnership with your group at (718) 931-1721. Together we can keep our neighborhoods cleaner!
We are in this Together: While much has been accomplished, we still have a long way to go as a community during these challenging times. And while I am certain that our city will be stronger in the face of this pandemic, our community will come out ever stronger.
NYC Councilman Mark Gjonaj
District 13, Bronx
COVID-19: Vaccination Appointment Assistance
COVID-19: Vaccinations for Homebound Seniors
COVID-19: Vaccine Eligibility
COVID-19: Vaccine Eligibility for Adults with Underlying Conditions
COVID-19: Vaccinations at Yankee Stadium
Free Transportation for Seniors to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine
NYC will provide transportation to seniors 65 years and over unable to travel for their vaccines including Access-a-Ride, Ambulette and Curb taxi service. Make an appointment by calling 877-VAX-4NYC or visiting https://vaccinefinder.nyc.gov/ and you’ll be directed to book the trips as eligible and appropriate.
Online Family Storytime
Free Spay/Neuter Clinic for Dogs and Cats
Mental Health Awareness Virtual Townhall
Free Tax Preparation in District 13
How to Wear Two Face Coverings
NYLAG’s Mobile Legal Help Center is continuing to help constituents in our district with free legal help. Please contact our office at (718) 931-1721 for available appointments via phone.
Virtual Free Housing Advocacy Assistance
Free Immigration Assistance
In partnership with CUNY Citizenship Now, our office is offering free immigration assistance to constituents in our District. See the information below!
Clean Up District 13 Initiative
Graffiti Removal Services
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Councilman Mark Gjonaj is pushing to introduce legislation that would help New Yorkers get through this time of uncertainty. Please find below the list of Legislative Service Requests Councilman Gjonaj has submitted to alleviate the hardships that many of our neighbors are facing today. To view Councilman Gjonaj’s proposed legislation, Click Here.
New York State continues to increase testing capacity for COVID-19 on a daily basis. Individuals who have questions regarding eligibility or access for testing should call the New York State COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 or visit the NYSDOH website https://covid19screening.health.ny.gov. Click Here to find a testing site near you.
The COVID-19 test site at RAIN Boston Road Senior Center is now open. The testing site will be open from 9 am till 6:30 pm, seven days a week. No appointment needed and it is for everyone in the community.
Contact Tracing Program
If you test positive for COVID-19, a Contact Tracer will connect you with the support and resources you may need to quarantine, such as help getting medical care, child care, groceries or household supplies. The Tracer will work with you to identify anyone you’ve been in contact with over the past 14 days to trace and contain the spread of the virus. Note that if you get a call from a Tracer, your caller ID will in most cases say “NYS Contact Tracing. (518-387-9993)” If you get a call, please answer the phone. Answering the phone will keep your loved ones and community safe.
Combat Stress & Mental Health Support
In difficult times mental health is very important and it is understandable and common to feel anxious and stressed, but no one should feel alone – help is always available. Click Here to find a list of mental health resources.
Drug and Alcohol Use Services
The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for people with substance use disorders and in recovery. The City has many free and low-cost services for people with drug and/or alcohol problems. In addition to these services, you can call New York City’s 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week hotline at 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355) or visit NYC Well online.
Important Links on Daily Updates
Click on the following sources for daily updates on the coronavirus:
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- New York State Department of Health
- New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- COVID-19 Data in NYC
- NYC Agency Suspensions and Reductions
- NYC Health and Hospitals
- Montefiore Medical Center
Text COVID to 692-692 for regular SMS updates on the latest COVID developments in New York City. To receive updates in Spanish, text COVIDESP to 692-692.
Updating on Indoor & Outdoor Dining
Indoor Dining: Since March 19, restaurants are allowed 50% capacity, up from the current 35% capacity limit.
Outdoor Dining: The city’s Open Restaurants Initiative, which allows for restaurants to serve customers on sidewalk and curb space, will be made permanent. Outdoor dining will also be permitted year-round. Restaurants can now extend their seating past the front of adjacent storefronts if neighboring businesses agree to it, the City announced. Restaurants that want to better heat outdoor dining spaces by enclosing so may do so but must keep capacity at 25%. For more information, Click Here.
Current Relief for Small Businesses
City Launches Small Business Supports for Hard-Hit Low and Moderate Income (LMI) Communities: The City announced three financial assistance programs available for small businesses in low-to-moderate income (LMI) neighborhoods. The NYC LMI Storefront Loan, Interest Rate Reduction Grant, and Strategic Impact COVID-19 Commercial District Support Grant will provide critical resources to small businesses to help them build back and grow beyond the pandemic. Click Here to apply and for more information.
SBA Paycheck Protection Program: The Paycheck Protection Program has reopened, offering forgivable loans to small businesses. Congress authorized up to $284 billion toward the small business loan program as part of the COVID-19 relief act. For more information, visit sba.gov.
SBA Shuttered Venue Operators Grant: The Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) Grant program was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, signed into law on December 27, 2020. The program includes $15 billion in grants to shuttered venues, to be administered by the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance. Eligible applicants may qualify for SVO Grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees. For information, Click Here.
Economic Injury and Disaster Loan Program: The Economic Injury and Disaster Loan Program through the Small Business Administration still has available funds. Small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations can apply. The loan is determined based on business income and need, with an interest rate of 3.75% of businesses and 2.75% interest for non-profits. The funds may be used for working capital and normal expenses, such as paying business rent, unities, and fixed debt payments. The loan is for 30 years, with no prepayment penalty. Applicants who generally wouldn’t qualify for the PPP may qualify for EIDL, but please note, this is a loan. More information, as well as the application can be found by Clicking Here.
New York Forward Loan Fund: Wells Fargo has pledged $20 Million to fund the New York Forward Loan Fund. The fund supports minority- and women-owned businesses, and landlords who own small multifamily properties in low- and moderate-income communities. These loans are available to small businesses, nonprofits, and small landlords that did not receive a loan from either the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for COVID-19 in 2020. The loans are not forgivable in part or whole. The loans will need to be paid back over a 5-year term with interest. More information about NYFLF is available online at www.esd.ny.gov/nyforwardloans. Fill out a pre-application and match with a participating lender.
NYS Shared Work Program: Consider the Shared Work Program as you manage business cycles and seasonal adjustments. Shared Work lets you keep trained staff and avoid layoffs. Employees can receive partial Unemployment Insurance benefits while working reduced hours. Full-time, part-time and seasonal employees are eligible. Click Here for an overview of the Shared Work Program.
Current Relief for Non-Profits
Robin Hood Foundation: The Robin Hood Foundation has announced they will be providing immediate response grants to nonprofit organizations, averaging $45,000 in funding for the first three months. Click Here to apply for the grants.
Current Relief for Faith-Based Organizations
US Small Business Administration: To apply for loans offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), please visit: sba.gov and for more information on which loans faith-based organizations are eligible for, Click Here.
Support Small Business
Please note New York State’s Price Gouging Law prohibits merchants from taking unfair advantage of consumers by selling goods or services that are “vital to the health, safety or welfare of consumers” for an “unconscionably excessive price” during an abnormal disruption of the market place or state of emergency. To report incidents of price gouging to the NYS Attorney General’s office call (800) 697-1220 and fill the Price Gouging Complaint Form by Clicking Here.
NYC Public Schools
New York City’s public schools reopened for in-person learning on December 7, starting with elementary schools for students whose parents agree to a weekly COVID-19 testing. Middle Schools reopened on February 25th. Pre-kindergarten classes also reopened December 7 alongside elementary schools. Schools that serve children with special educational needs, known as District 75 schools, reopened December 10. NYC high school buildings will reopen for in-person learning beginning Monday, March 22, 2021. Your child’s school will contact you with your student’s specific in-person schedule. To learn more about school-based testing, Click Here. Visit schools.nyc.gov/coronavirus for more information. Click Here to read more about 2020-2021 School Year.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s school with any questions or concerns, and remember: wash your hands, wear a face covering, keep six feet of distance from others and stay home if you’re feeling sick.
NYC Catholic Schools
Catholic school buildings remain open. Parents who desire can choose full time remote learning for their child. Remote learning will be with their child’s teacher, learning in the classroom with students who are in the building. Please visit CatholicSchoolsNY.org/opening for regular updates, and to view opening videos which tour the enhanced environment to which students, teachers and staff have returned to.
Free Meals for ALL New Yorkers
Three free grab-and-go meals will be available daily for ALL New Yorkers in more than 400 Meal Hubs across the 5 boroughs. For more information and to find a location near you visit http://schools.nyc.gov/freemeals. Kosher meals are now available at 12 sites. Halal meals are available at all 400+ grab-and-go sites and 25% capacity is being added at 32 DOE sites in neighborhoods with high need during the month of Ramadan (approx. 400,000 meals total across the City).
The New York Public Libraries
The New York Public Library has expanded grab-and-go service to 30 branch locations as part of our gradual reopening. They hope to reopen even more locations soon. Find details about locations, services, and requirements, and learn more about accessing remote resources. For more information, please visit:https://www.nypl.org/about/coronavirus
Free Meal Delivery Program: All participants in the GetFoodNYC program can now sign up for recurring deliveries for a month at a time by calling 311 or through the NYC Food Delivery Assistance webpage by Clicking Here. Participants no longer need to order every 2-3 days. If you are a senior and need help connecting to these meals, you can register with a local senior center so that food deliveries can be managed by the center on a long-term basis. Households that qualify may order three days of food at a time for up to a month. Each delivery will contain three days of food (9 meals per person, but no household will receive more than 18 meals per delivery). All orders will be delivered within three days or less of the order date.
NYC Department for the Aging: For more information on senior resources offered by the City, Click Here.
NYC Department of Veterans’ Services: To learn more on the veterans’ resources offered by the City such as food assistance, emergency financial assistance, business support, healthcare and much more, Click Here.
NYC Veterans’ Needs and Mutual Aid: The Veterans Mutual Aid – NYC Metro will provide ranges from regular check-ins with isolated veterans to helping veterans find safe housing and assistance to make it through the pandemic. Click Here to apply for aid. NYC Veterans Alliance is also maintaining and updating a comprehensive resource list at nycveteransalliance.org/covid_19.
Mental Health Support for Veterans: If you are a veteran living in New York, or New Jersey, you can get trauma counseling and crisis intervention support. Call 311 to get connected to these services; in an emergency, call 911. Veterans can also access mental health support by calling the Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255.
To apply for Unemployment Insurance, Click Here.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: PUA Update – 1/30/2020: New Yorkers who are enrolled in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program do not need to reapply for benefits if they continue to be unemployed when they reach the end of their initial benefit year. Instead, PUA claimants should continue to certify weekly while unemployed to continue receiving the benefits they are eligible for. Claimants who are receiving traditional Unemployment Insurance (UI), should reapply if they continue to be unemployed when their benefit year has ended. For more information about extended benefits, visit on.ny.gov/cauwa.
NYC Health and Hospitals: NYC Health and Hospitals is hiring 500 non-clinical staff to help with patient transport, clerical work, and cleaning. No medical background is required and hiring will be expanded to thousands soon. Please visit nyc.gov/getwork for more information and to apply.
Disaster Response Jobs at SBA: The SBA is hiring temporary employees to assist with disaster relief efforts. Bilingual language skills a plus. Click Here to apply.
As many industries are laying off employees during the Coronavirus Pandemic, please note the following employers that are currently hiring and apply with them directly:
- To apply with 7-Eleven, Click Here.
- To apply with Amazon, Click Here.
- To apply with CVS, Click Here.
- To apply with Dollar General, Click Here.
- To apply with Domino’s Pizza, Click Here.
- To apply with Kroger, Click Here.
- To apply with Papa John’s, Click Here.
- To apply with Pizza Hut, Click Here.
- To apply with Walmart, Click Here.
- To apply with Services for the Underserved, Click Here.
- To apply with the Child Center of NY, Click Here.
- To apply with the Fund for Public Health NYC, Click Here.
Recruiting TLC Drivers: New York City is looking for TLC-licensed drivers to help with important work related to the coronavirus, such as delivering food to the elderly who are home bound. This work will be paid $15/hour plus reimbursement for gas and tolls. Drivers will be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis. Click Here to sign up.
Recruiting Medical Professionals: New York State is looking for qualified health, mental health, and related professionals to supplement our health care capacity. Click Here to take the Health and Related Professionals survey.
Governor Cuomo signed the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020. The Act prevents residential evictions, foreclosure proceedings, credit discrimination and negative credit reporting related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also extends the Senior Citizens’ Homeowner Exemption and Disabled Homeowner Exemption from 2020 to 2021. The Act adds to New York State’s efforts to protect tenants and homeowners from the economic hardship incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Residential Evictions: The Act places a moratorium on residential evictions until May 1, 2021 for tenants who have endured COVID-related hardship. Tenants must submit a hardship declaration, or a document explaining the source of the hardship, to prevent evictions. Landlords can evict tenants that are creating safety or health hazards for other tenants, and those tenants who do not submit hardship declarations.
Residential Foreclosure Proceedings: The Act also places a moratorium on residential foreclosure proceedings until May 1, 2021. Homeowners and small landlords who own 10 or fewer residential dwellings can file hardship declarations with their mortgage lender, other foreclosing party or a court that would prevent a foreclosure.
Tax Lien Sales: The Act prevents local governments from engaging in a tax lien sale or a tax foreclosure until at least May 1, 2021. Payments due to the locality are still due. For more information, Click Here.
During the Coronavirus Pandemic, the Social Security Administration is focusing on providing services to people in dire need. You can conduct most business online by Clicking Here including applying for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits.
They will accept also requests for dire need benefit payments including:
- If you did not receive your monthly payment;
- If you are currently homeless or at risk of becoming homeless; or
- If your benefits were suspended and can now be reinstated.
You will continue to receive your monthly benefit amount if you use Direct Deposit. Click Here to find out what services are continuing and which ones are being suspended, how to contact the agency, and important information about deadlines that are being extended to ease the burden on you and medical providers during this pandemic.
MTA NYC Transit
Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order directing the MTA to develop a plan to bolster mask compliance across public transportation system’s subways, buses and railroads. In response to this directive, the MTA announced riders who refuse to wear a mask on public transit will be subject to a $50 fine.
Alternate Side Parking
ASP rules are in effect. When ASP is in effect, non-metered residential side streets that have multiple ASP days will be cleaned – with vehicles required to be moved – only on the latest day in the week on each side, until further notice. Meters remain in effect. For up to date information, please Click Here.
|NYCHA Management and Maintenance: NYCHA’s property management offices remain open, but will suspend direct-contact meetings with residents in an effort to enhance social distancing practices per DOHMH guidance. Property office staff will continue to assist residents via telephone, email, and through scheduled appointments to speak to staff from behind the reception desk. Please refrain from walking into your respective property management office without an appointment unless it is absolutely necessary. NYCHA will reevaluate their policy in 30 days.
Additionally, NYCHA staff will continue to perform EMERGENCY maintenance and repairs such as water leaks, gas leaks, local power issues, stoppages, and hazardous conditions (e.g., electrical issues or fire hazards) at developments and in apartments. For more information, please call the CCC at 718-707-7771 or visit www.nyc.gov/nycha.
Curbside Collection: Collection service for trash and recycling is ongoing (with some delays). Curbside compost collection has been suspended as of May 4, 2020 until June 30, 2021. Follow your normal collection schedule. Put items at the curb between 4 p.m. – midnight, the evening before your pickup day.
Food Scrap Drop-off Sites: Sites are closed. Residents should not leave food scraps at any location.
Get Compost: The DSNY Compost Distribution Program has been paused until further notice. This includes all compost deliveries, pickups and scheduled giveback events.
SAFE Disposal Events: Events have been canceled through June 30, 2021.
Special Waste Drop-off Sites: Sites are closed through June 30, 2021. Residents should not illegally dump waste.
ecycleNYC: For buildings already enrolled, pick-up appointments are now available. Please be patient as DSNY works through the backlog created during quarantine. New enrollments are on hold but you may now submit an application here.
Curbside E-Waste Pickup Request: New appointments will not be accepted.
For DSNY updates, Click Here.
The NYPD will no longer respond to 911 calls for vehicle collisions that result in only property damage. Motorists will be responsible for filling out their own reports and forwarding the reports to the DMV. Police Communications Technicians will connect the caller to a pre-recorded message explaining that the police will not respond and the motorist will be provided with further instructions.
Police will still respond to the scene of an accident if any of the following conditions are present:
- Third party caller, if caller can communicate exigent circumstances, or injury to parties involved,
- Any person trapped, injured, incapacitated, or deceased,
- Any vehicle requiring a tow,
- Motorists unable, or unwilling, to exchange information,
- Damage to property other than any vehicle involved, or the contents thereof,
- Any act of suspected criminality (i.e. hit and run),
- Any vehicle displaying or containing hazardous material,
- Any bus or commercial truck weighing over 10,000 lbs.,
- Any NYS/City involved vehicle collision, and/or
- Any vehicle collision involving a deer and/or a domestic animal.
If you are about to become homeless, Homebase can help you stay out of shelter. Homebase offers:
- Services to prevent eviction
- Assistance obtaining public benefits
- Emergency rental assistance
- Education and job placement assistance
- Financial counseling and money management
- Help relocating
- Short-term financial assistance
Although Family Justice Centers are closed for walk-ins, survivors and victims of gender-based and domestic violence (intimate partner violence, elder abuse, sex trafficking, stalking, sexual violence), no matter their income, language, immigration status, gender identity, or sexual orientation in NYC can STILL reach the Bronx Center directly, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. through 5 p.m at 718-508-1220. During off-hours and weekends, victims and survivors can access help and resources by calling NYC’s 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline (800-621-4673) or visiting the NYC HOPE Resource Directory online at www.nyc.gov/NYCHOPE.
New Yorkers with disabilities can reach out to the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities for more information about COVID-19 and how to stay safe. New Yorkers can reach out on Twitter to @NYCDisabilities, 311 or visit http://nyc.gov/disability for more information. Hearing impaired New Yorkers can call the office’s video phone at 646-396-5830.
If you are a pet owner affected by COVID-19 and need assistance, call the NYC COVID-19 Pet Hotline 1-877-204-8821, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week.
The Governor is also asking all New Yorkers who have recovered from COVID-19 to contact the state and donate blood. Individuals who have recovered from the virus may have convalescent plasma in their blood, which has antibodies against the virus and could help with the development of a treatment for the virus. More information about how to donate is available Here. You can also donate blood plasma through the Red Cross Here.
Taxpayers should be on the lookout for IRS impersonation calls, texts and email phishing attempts about the coronavirus or COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments. These scams can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft. For more information from the IRS, Click Here.