Photo Courtesy of John McCarten/NY City Council
“It cannot be emphasized enough that every funding request in this letter has life and death implications,” Councilwoman Koslowitz said.
By Forum Staff
Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) led 94 New York elected officials from all levels of government in a letter urging President Donald Trump to support the expansion of critical safety net programs for New Yorkers, as the Empire State continues its fight against COVID-19.
These programs include food assistance for children and seniors, hazard pay for essential workers, paid sick leave, additional funding for unemployment benefits and other essential initiatives.
According to the electeds, NYC is the epicenter of the coronavirus health crisis, and the experiences of its hospitals and frontline health care workers, social service providers, municipal employees, educators, and other unsung heroes have served as both examples and warnings for regions facing later COVID-19 peak timelines. These lessons should serve as a critical guide in the next stimulus package, the officials said.
The missive calls for:
Individual Assistance: In order for emergency assistance programs across agencies to be implemented, we urge you to promptly approve New York State’s application for Individual Assistance. This IA designation is critical to our ability to access federal programs in the most expansive way possible.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Prior to the pandemic, 1.5 million New Yorkers were SNAP beneficiaries. “We request that you suspend administrative requirements to facilitate enrollment and maintenance of benefits during this pandemic, including more flexible requirements for interviews, documentation, and verification; the expansion of USDA pilot programs that allow online SNAP purchases; issuance of waivers to permit SNAP benefits to be used for prepared and hot foods; and the removal of citizenship requirements. We also urge you to support additional increased funding for SNAP and for the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP).”
Pandemic-EBT: “We request that you approve Pandemic-EBT for New York State, support increased funding for this important program, and expand it to include all children.”
Senior Nutrition Programs: “We request your support for increased funding for SNPs to provide home-delivered and pre-packaged meals to low-income seniors in New York, including meal delivery services to those homebound due to COVID-19 public health emergencies.”
Women, Infants and Children: “We request your support to raise the age of eligibility for child participants in WIC; increase the Cash Value Benefit for WIC participants to allow for a higher benefit level for fruit and vegetable purchases; and for Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to use the flexibility provided in the Families First Act to provide a waiver for WIC’s cashier signature requirements.”
The Emergency Food Assistance Program: “We request that TEFAP be able to permit food pantries to utilize funds for salaries or volunteer stipends and waive all State and local match requirements for these expenses.”
Unemployment Insurance Benefits: “We urge the federal government to release additional funding for Unemployment Insurance Benefits, as directed by the CARES Act, to the states without delay.”
“It cannot be emphasized enough that every funding request in this letter has life and death implications,” Koslowitz said.