The New York City Council remains empty as hearings and stated meetings are now all held online. Photo Credit: FLICKR
The New York City Council remains empty as hearings and stated meetings are now all held online. Photo Credit: FLICKR

In the first remote Stated in the New York City Council’s 82-year history, constituents gathered online Wednesday as their elected representatives voted on measures that will create and preserve over 2,000 units of affordable housing, as reported by City Hall.

A COVID-19 relief package was introduced to protect tenants, small businesses and regulations regarding our the current public health crisis. The 11-bill package covers issues from renters’ rights, to the essential worker’s bill of rights. But today, the council convened only to vote on the need to preserve and expand the city’s affordable housing system.

“These bills provide relief where it is needed most right now, including protecting tenants from eviction,” Speaker Corey Johnson said.  “It’s essential that New Yorkers get the rent cancellation they need, but in the meantime, we need to give renters peace of mind that we won’t let them suffer irreparable harms.”

“As we enter a period of economic downfall, it is more important than ever that New Yorkers have access to stable housing options. The devastation of COVID-19 is everywhere and has left virtually no one untouched; we need strong tenant protections to ensure everyone who has a home is able to keep it and to do so would require an extensive series of partial and full property tax exemptions.”

The measures discussed included a vote on an affordable housing project that will transform a former hotel into a 500-unit housing facility in Dumbo. There was also a vote to provide additional support to the Downtown Flushing Transit Hub business district. This will include an increase in annual funds, an expansion of district boundaries, and the modification of existing services.

“The COVID-19 crisis has shaken every sector of New York to its core, and we must respond in an unprecedented manner to protect our most vulnerable, rebuild our economy, and ensure our City emerges a more equitable and safer one,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera. “While I’ve been focusing day in and day out on providing oversight of our City’s hospitals, we also must start to look to the future.”

These bills will bring desperately-needed relief protections for the workers and tenants who are bearing the brunt of this pandemic.

The Council will continue to hold virtual hearings on each of the bills over the next week and a half.

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Kimberlean Donis

Kimberlean Donis is a journalist based in Brooklyn. She is a student at Williams College majoring in Political Science and Art History.

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