“The extra $600 each week, for many, will help keep them in their homes, allow them to purchase medication, pay rent or help feed their family. Without it, those same people may not be able to make it through to the end of this shutdown,” said Sen. Addabbo.
By Michael V. Cusenza
New Yorkers this week face three “dangerous cliffs,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday as he sounded an alarm and making the case for New York’s urgent need for federal action amid the continued blows of the COVID-19 pandemic.
New York’s senior senator said that according to reports, Senate Republicansscrapped their plans to release a proposal for the next coronavirus relief bill last week after continued differences within the party and the White House on myriad issues, including unemployment insurance.
Schumer said, because of this inaction, New Yorkers are now on three dangerous cliffs:
- Unemployment insurance and the federal $600 boost has expired
- Renter and homeowner eviction protections are now gone
- State and local governments are going broke
The federal unemployment insurance benefit of $600 is expired, federal eviction protections are gone and local governments from the City of New York to Nassau and Suffolk County governments are looking at a combined tens-of-thousands of local government layoffs unless something is done—and done fast.
“The coronavirus has hit New York families especially hard and without action this week in the Senate, millions of those families who have been financially hanging on by a thread would be hurt even more,” Schumer said.“Undoubtedly, without action this week to cushion the economic blows of the pandemic we face three dangerous cliffs that include unemployment insurance, renter protections and state and local budgets that are going broke. So, we are here today to demand Leader McConnell stop the dithering, present the next coronavirus relief bill, start negotiations and then get that bill on the floor because a failure to do so will mean too many fall off that veritable cliff.”
According to the State Department of Labor, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits, including more than 1.8 million New Yorkers. Schumer also said that approved payments to New York recipients for Unemployment Insurance totaled $32.1 billion from March 1 through July 17. Schumer says these figures prove how critical the issue of unemployment has been for New Yorkers and their families, and how essential the additional $600 is to keeping families above water.
On the issue of evictions, “more than 325,000 of New York City’s lowest-income households—almost a million people—are at risk of severe income loss and may be unable to pay rent,” according to Win, a NYC nonprofit that works with City Hall to provide temporary, emergency shelter to families with children experiencing homelessness.
“What has sadly happened here is that needless inaction in the senate by Leader McConnell has put millions of New Yorkerson the edge of these three cliffs and people could be in for a financial freefall unless action is taken,” Schumer added.
On Monday, State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said it is crucial for the federal government to extend the $600 portion of unemployment payments before they expire on Friday, July 31.
“As our country continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, with many local businesses still either completely shut down or only partially open, it is imperative that the federal government extend the $600 unemployment boost,” Addabbo said. “This extra money will help the more than one million New Yorkers—many of them my constituents—who cannot return to work yet or who have lost their jobs due to the shutdown. As expenses continue to pile up, it is our responsibility as elected officials to ensure that none of our residents who are unable to work suffer due to this pandemic. The extra $600 each week, for many, will help keep them in their homes, allow them to purchase medication, pay rent or help feed their family. Without it, those same people may not be able to make it through to the end of this shutdown.”
Even with businesses slowly returning as New York is now in Phase 4 of reopening, it remains difficult for many New Yorkers to find work if they have been laid off.
“The working people of New York are what make our city and state the great place that it is, and we must do what we can to make sure that they are protected during this difficult time,” Addabbo added. “I have received several constituent complaints asking me to do what I can to keep this lifesaving benefit intact.”
The senator said he plans to pen a letter to his colleagues in the federal government, asking them to keep this $600 weekly benefit alive for a certain period, so people can continue to survive throughout the pandemic.
This month, the U.S. surpassed 4 million reported COVID-19 cases. More than 144,000 people have died in the U.S. from the virus, and the economic blow has been unprecedented.