Good Morning, Brooklyn: Thursday, September 2, 2021
CUNY CANCELS STUDENT DEBT: The CUNY (City University of New York) Comeback Program is forgiving nearly $95 million in unpaid tuition and fee balances for more than 52,000 students in New York City’s public university system. The CUNY Comeback Program, announced at the end of July, utilizes federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds to cancel outstanding student tuition and fee balances, providing financial relief to CUNY students who experienced economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Believed to be United States’ largest student debt-forgiveness program of its kind, the initiative is expected to see these numbers rise as the university starts reviewing thousands of additional hardship applications.
Grateful students have come forward to thank CUNY for launching the CUNY Comeback Program, many referencing the daily struggles they faced during the health crisis, from losing loved ones to incurring heavy financial tolls. Students’ debt to CUNY nearly doubled during the pandemic with an average outstanding balance of about $2,000.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROGRAM RELAUNCHED: The Biden Administration’s announcement that it will relaunch the Risk Sharing Program for HUD-insured multifamily mortgages, drew a joint statement with U.S. Rep Nydia Velázquez and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. The Risk Sharing program is a partnership between the Department of Treasury’s (Treasury) Federal Financing Bank and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Citing the Obama Presidency’s success with this affordable housing program, Velázquez and Gillibrand said, “…As we continue to recover from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are confident restarting this program will breathe new life into the economy by revamping the construction and availability of affordable rental units for working families in New York City and across America.”
BROOKLYN COLLEGE SERIES ON WEST SIDE STORY: The classic musical “West Side Story,” and its Brooklyn connection are the focus of an educational series at Brooklyn College this fall. Associate Professor María Pérez y González is teaching the series as part of Brooklyn College’s Department of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies project centering on the 10-time Academy Award-winning 1961 film —now marking its 60th anniversary —and its connection to the forthcoming December 2021 release of a version produced by Steven Spielberg with Tony Kushner, Rita Moreno (who played Anita in the movie) and others. The course will bring in as guest lecturers: playwright Tony Kushner; multiple Grammy-nominated percussionist, composer, arranger, and producer Bobby Sanabria; and composer, producer and conductor Jeanine Tesori.
Bobby Sanabria explores the artistic and cultural impact of West Side Story through the lenses of the humanities and social sciences, highlighting Puerto Rico’s history with the United States, immigration, ethno-racial relations, gender, gangs, language, music, character analysis, and more.
FUNERAL FOR FIRST HAITIAN-AMERICAN BISHOP: The funeral for the first Haitian American Roman Catholic Bishop in the United States takes place today, Thursday, September 2, when the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn, presides at the Mass of Christian Burial for retired Auxiliary Bishop the Most Reverend Guy A. Sansaricq. The 11 a.m. funeral mass takes place at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, located at 856 Pacific St. in Prospect Heights, which can seat over 1,500. Sansaricq, the first Haitian American Catholic Bishop in the United States, died on August 21, 2021, at the age of 86.
Born in Jérémie, Haiti, on October 6, 1934, Bishop Sansaricq was ordained to the priesthood in 1960. Awarded a scholarship, he earned his master’s degree in 1971 at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He began his ministry in the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1977, was consecrated as a bishop in 2006 and retired in 2010 after reaching the mandatory age for doing so.
HOCHUL APPOINTS TWO FOR ALBANY: Two highly-competent NYC officials have been lured to Albany in the new Hochul administration. Governor Kathy Hochul has appointed Brooklyn-born Kathryn Garcia and Neysa Alsina, as director of State Operations and Special Advisor on Pandemic Relief, respectively. Garcia, a past commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation, led its 9,700 uniformed and civilian employees. During the pandemic, Commissioner Garcia served as the COVID-19 Food Czar, delivering over one million meals a day to hungry New Yorkers.
Ms. Alsina previously served as chief counsel to the New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. She has also served as Senior Policy Advisor to Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez in Washington, D.C
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