By Michael V. Cusenza
Community groups across the Center for Popular Democracy network Friday honored May Day, a day of action historically led by workers and immigrants to demonstrate strength and solidarity, with dozens of socially-distant in-person and online activations in 19 states, including New York, demanding #Recovery4All from the COVID-19 crisis.
The May Day demands include:
#CancelRent —“We must cancel rent and mortgage payments, freeze evictions, foreclosures, and utility shut-offs on all housing. Elected officials need to establish a housing emergency fund and provide $100 billion in rent assistance. We must declare a moratorium on all work requirements for housing and care for people experiencing homelessness.”
#ReleaseThemAll —“We must release particularly vulnerable populations from prisons and jails to relieve concentration of risk to coronavirus. We must release everyone currently in immigration detention and close immigration courts. We must hold telephonic bond hearings, divest resources from wall construction and border enforcement to provide medical care, and create cash-based disaster relief to out-of-work households regardless of status. Every person regardless of status needs to be supported with safe and accessible health care.”
#EssentialWorker —“We need universal basic income, unemployment insurance, Green New Deal, Medicare For All, Childcare for All, Paid Sick, Hazard Pay, PPE, and a paycheck guarantee.”
#AmazonStrikes —“We must ensure paid leave, hazard pay, and care subsidies. We must shut down and clean facilities with workers. And we must provide personal protective equipment, eliminate discipline for raising safety concerns, and end work practices such as production quotas.”
“This is a once in a 100 year crisis, which will have a long term impact on our communities. In the last couple of months frontline communities across the country have been hit the hardest with no end in sight. This pandemic has made the country realize that the systems we have now are not working. Our fight to secure the most basic human rights is not new. We know all too well that the economic and political fallout could leave many more of our people jobless, homeless, hungry or, even worse, dead,” said Tracey Corder, director of Federal Action and Racial Justice at Center for Popular Democracy.
Additionally, this week, U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Queens and Bronx) led members of the New York congressional delegation in calling on House and Senate leadership to include rent and mortgage forgiveness in the next COVID-19 relief package.
In their letter, Meng and Ocasio-Cortez also called for the creation of a Housing and Urban Development fund that would reimburse landlords for the cost of cancelling rent for the duration of the crisis, and for an additional six months after the pandemic ends. This fund would be extended to small privatelandlords, public housing authorities, nonprofit organizations or housing cooperatives.
“Not only does HUD have the capacity to administer a program of this scale, but it would serve as a direct stimulus for the countless families that are facing unprecedented economic hardship,” Meng and Ocasio-Cortez wrote in the correspondence with congressional leadership. “We need a universal program that will cover all renters without introducing costly bureaucratic measures that will slow the receipt of aid and preserve the already limited stock of affordable housing.”
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