Ocasio-Cortez hosts monthly town hall on COVID-19 relief package and HEROES Act

Ocasio-Cortez hosts monthly town hall
File photo

On May 21, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hosted her monthly town hall where she discussed the latest COVID-19 relief package and the HEROES Act.

The congresswoman was also joined by city leaders, who shared resources to access free meals and address the rise in domestic violence incidents.

Video of the virtual town hall is available here.

Key resources from the town hall:

  • Food Assistance: Visit nyc.gov/GetFood or call 311 and say “get food” to access services. It has a map to hundreds of grab and go sites, emergency food home delivery for those most in need, cooking videos and shopping resources.
  • NYC Hope is the city’s online resource directory for information and resources about gender-based violence, including intimate partner and family violence, elder abuse, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking. NYC.gov/nychope
  • NYC’s 24/7 domestic violence hotline: 1-800-621-HOPE (4673), 1-866-604-5350 (TTY) or call 311.
  • New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence text line: 1-844-997-2121.
  • Youth specific domestic violence hotline: call 1-866-331-9474, text “LOVEIS” to 22522 or chat at loveisrespect.org.
  • NY State COVID-19 email alert sign up https://now.ny.gov/page/s/coronavirus-updates
  • Text “COVID” to 692-692 to get important COVID-19 related updates sent to your phone. You can text “COVIDESP” to get updates in Spanish.
  • Blood donations are needed. Visit nybc.org or call 800-933-2566 for information.
  • Labor laws and workplace safety: If you believe an employer is in violation of either existing labor laws or recently issued executive orders you can contact the NYS Attorney General’s Office at (212) 416-8700 or Labor.Bureau@ag.ny.gov.

 Q&A from the town hall:

It has been slightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Q: I’m wondering what you are doing to make sure aid is continued after the end of July for people who lost their jobs.

A: If passed, the HEROES Act would extend weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through next January. The Congresswoman voted in support of the HEROES Act.

Q: What can be done to support the postal service?

A: The HEROES Act would provide $25 billion in funding for the U.S. Postal Service to ensure it doesn’t become obsolete and has language providing additional protections to postal workers. There would also be an additional $15 million is provided for the Postal Service Inspector General for oversight of this funding.

Q: When do you anticipate the HEROES Act to pass and any sense as to what the amount will ultimately be?

A: The House passed the HEROES Act on May 15. It now awaits a vote in the Senate. Majority Leader McConnell has not yet indicated if or when he’ll vote on the act.

Q: What can be done to assist renters and small landlords?

A: The congresswoman has supported a rent moratorium, eviction moratorium and foreclosure moratorium since the beginning of the crisis. She specifically called for the creation of a HUD fund that would provide assistance to small landlords in the event that “rent cancellation” becomes law.

Q: Why is not everyone receiving a $1,200 stimulus check (aka Economic Impact Payment?)

A: Only adults with Social Security Numbers making below a certain income threshold are eligible. You can learn more about eligibility here. The congresswoman recently voted in support of the HEROES Act, which would provide another $1,200 stimulus check to everyone with a Social Security Number AND a Tax ID number. The inclusion of a Tax ID number would help get stimulus checks to many immigrant families who were left out of the CARES Act.

Q: I’m a senior and I signed up for the city’s food-delivery program, but I’m not receiving meals. What should I do?

A: The city is delivering over 700,000 meals per day. If you hear of a senior not getting their meals, let the city know by calling 311 or going to nyc.gov/GetFoodHelp.

Q: Are places of worship allowed to reopen?

A: The governor announced that beginning May 21, religious gatherings of no more than 10 people will be allowed statewide where strict social distancing measures are enforced and all participants wear masks. Drive-in and parking lot services are also allowed.

Q: Please tell me what advocacy is being done for home health aides, e.g., hazard pay and financial support for home care providers.

A: The recent House-passed HEROES Act, (which the congresswoman supported,) included a $2 billion fund to provide hazard pay to essential, front line workers. Most home health aides would qualify under that bill. It also included additional funds to agencies like the Veterans Administration that provide home health care to pay for home health aides. We hope that the Senate will pass it, and in the event that we pass a compromise measure we will work to ensure that funding to cover home health aides is included.

Q: My unemployment claim still hasn’t been processed and I can’t get a hold of the state. What can I do?

A: If you’re a NY-14 constituent, you can call our office for assistance at 718-662-5970. Here is the latest from the Governor’s office on their efforts to address the backlog: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/new-york-state-department-labor-announces-over-10-billion-unemployment-benefits-paid-over-2

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