Photo courtesy of by Annie Tritt / NYT / Redux
The question of how to disperse $22 billion in federal aid for NYC is receiving very mixed proposals. While Mayor Bill de Blasio has already signaled where he believes funds should be allocated, an alliance of over twenty business leaders and nonprofit organizations are voicing their concerns and providing ideas of their own; the group is made up of critics of the Mayor and his administration and the Real Estate Board of New York.
The Mayor’s initial ideas are as follows:
- Budgeted allocations:
- $234 million for park and graffiti restoration
- $300 in one-time tax credits for lower-income homeowners; $90 million for the program at large
- $121 million to temporarily help expand government-funded and led mental health crisis teams
- Prospective allocations, according to Laura Feyer, one of the Mayor’s spokeswoman:
- Vital investments in small business grants
- The largest tourism campaign in city history
- Directly hiring 10,000 New Yorkers in the City Cleanup Corps
- Providing universal 3-K early education
- Housing vouchers
The alliance, however, finds the Mayor’s allocation plan to be insufficient as they predict that many of his proposed initiatives and projects will shortly be underfunded; once they deplete their allocated funds, they fear that further funding down the line would inevitably need to be pulled from more deserving projects and sectors. Here are their additional, key concerns:
- Those who need it the most, especially after the pandemic, are being sidelined.
- They cite businesses owned by people of color, cultural organizations, and hotels amongst other examples.
- Unemployed individuals will not receive adequate support from the funds.
- The group believes that the money would be better spent on jobs and training for workers in order to be better prepared for their future careers.
- The proposed initiatives and projects are generally catering to issues that are not as pressing as others, especially in the immediate pandemic climate.
On this basis, the alliance has sent a letter to the Mayor, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and other City Council Members proposing their ideas for the distribution of aid. Their key proposals are as follows:
- A $300,000+ million program to bridge the gap between unemployed individuals and job openings
- Facilitate arbitration between landlords and tenants over lease dispute
- Invest in cultural organizations
- Extend a waiver through 2021 on hotel room taxes, which the city has stopped collecting through the end of summer
The budget’s approval date is July 1st.
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