Brooklyn Boro

COVID-19 update: Williams calls for rent freeze, cites housing injustices for communities of color

June 18, 2020 Editorial Staff

On the front lines of the war on COVID-19, there are many civilian heroes going out of their way, as volunteers and contributors. Also, many who are elected to serve are going the extra mile. In this column the Eagle hopes to give our readers an ongoing update on those fighting in the front lines.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams released a statement ahead of the Rent Guidelines Board’s final vote, set for Wednesday evening, urging the board to freeze rents on one- and two-year leases for rent-regulated units amid the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on New Yorkers. “Housing injustices, particularly for Black and Brown communities, have long been rampant. Now, the affordable housing and homelessness crisis has compounded with the COVID-19 health and economic crises, more instances where communities of more color and lower income communities are disproportionately harmed,” said Williams. “While it would be an error not to acknowledge and address each mounting crisis in its own complexities, it would also be a failure not to see them as deeply interconnected, each a part of why we protest. Policing injustices brought us out of our homes — rising rents will keep us out.”

A growing coalition of national, family, and community foundations announced on Wednesday the selection of 62 grant recipients through the NYC Green Relief & Recovery Fund’s first round of funding. The NYC-based nonprofits will receive grants ranging from $5,000 to $120,000 to support essential maintenance, stewardship, public programming, and management of parks and open spaces. The Fund is being administered by City Parks Foundation, and is still accepting applications until June 19th. Guidelines and application instructions are available here.

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This Juneteenth, BRIC is hosting a virtual #BHeard Town Hall that will look at the state of freedom in Black communities as they grapple with COVID-19, benign neglect, and state-sanctioned violence. Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of enslavement in the United States. Since June 19th, 1865, the day has emphasized education, achievement, and reflection on African-American freedom. Airing on YouTube Live, BRIC will bring together artists, activists, change-makers, and stakeholders for community and conversation.

New York Attorney General Letitia James and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced that the state has, for the third time, renewed an order to halt the collection of medical and student debt owed to the State of New York that has been specifically referred to the Office of the Attorney General for collection for an additional 30-day period. In response to continuing financial impairments resulting from the spread of the coronavirus, the OAG again renewed the orders on Wednesday. “More than 2.6 million New Yorkers filed for unemployment in the last three months, so we will continue to look for ways to protect each of these individuals’ wallets, and the wallets of millions more across our state,” said Attorney General James.

Brooklyn Public Library and Apple Bank are hosting a series of virtual programs to celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month and the diverse cultural traditions that tell the unique story of America. The series will culminate with the fifth annual World Language Festival on June 27. All of the programs presented are virtual and free and made possible with the generous support of Apple Bank, celebrating over 20 years in Brooklyn. More information may be found at the Library’s online calendar.

Following the lead of major international film festivals, the Brooklyn College Film Department will hold its 38th Annual Undergraduate Film Festival as a fully virtual event from June 26 to 28. This spring, 120 students graduated from the Brooklyn College Film Department — a record number. “This year the BC Undergraduate Film Festival is celebrating the resilience, hard work, determination and courage of the Class of 2020,” said Film Department Chair Annette Danto. The trailer for the event can be found here.


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