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NY Federal Tax and Budget Response Team: Address the Needs of New York’s Frontline and Most Vulnerable Workers in Next Stimulus Package

 

This Letter was Prepared by the New York Federal Tax and Budget Response Team. The Response Team works together to protect and strengthen federal human services programs and policies that support low- to middle-income New Yorkers. We are a state-based coalition whose members include FPWA, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York, UJA-Federation of New York, Fiscal Policy Institute, New York Housing Conference, LiveOn NY, Human Services Council of New York, United Neighborhood Houses, Food Bank For New York City, Urban Justice Center, and Children’s Aid. Together, the umbrella organizations represent hundreds of faith-based and human-service organizations and serve together more than 3 million New York City residents each year.

 

Dear New York City Area Members of Congress,

The undersigned New York City-based organizations strongly urge Congress to swiftly build on the Families First Coronavirus Act. By prioritizing low-wage and vulnerable workers and human service providers, Congress can stave off a severe economic recession by protecting those whose jobs have been sacrificed to protect the public’s health and those serving on the frontlines who are responding to the growing needs of their communities.

Largely as a result of public health mandated closings, as many as 500,000 low-paid workers in New York City restaurants, neighborhood services, taxi/Uber/Lyft drivers, as well as thousands working in the performing arts and a range of local service businesses will lose their jobs and incomes, according to an estimate this week by the Center for New York City Affairs. Restaurant and other small business owners, and nonprofits are losing revenues as well with income losses estimated to range between $1 and $2 billion in March alone. These workers will in turn rely on the nonprofit sector to ensure their basic needs are met, such as nutrition, child care, housing, and more.

Human Service Providers and Workers

Together, the umbrella organizations represent hundreds of faith-based and nonprofit human-service providing organizations and serve more than three million New York City residents each year. Our members are essential partners in this work and will have to address new needs with fewer resources, and therefore will require support both financial and health related. Congress can begin to support human service providers by passing legislation that significantly expands social safety net programs, such as child care, cash assistance, unemployment insurance, paid sick leave, housing, support for older adults, and aid for food to ensure our communities’ basic needs are met. 

For services that are being asked to expand or stay open—homeless shelters, child care, child welfare prevention, residential service, senior centers, public housing—it is also critical that revenue continue to flow to the nonprofit sector, such as in the form of emergency relief, to keep a low paid workforce economically stable and available to deliver services to those in need. Additionally, health protections may be required as there are serious health concerns to manage in locations where services are provided. 

Low-Paid and Vulnerable Workers

The economy is in a recession that could prove to be extremely severe. While Congress will need to remain vigilant regarding the need to provide appropriate economic stimulus in the weeks and months ahead, the immediate need—and federal government’s responsibility—is to make whole those workers whose jobs were sacrificed in the interest of our collective well-being. A half-million of our New York City neighbors, and millions of their counterparts in other cities and towns around the country, are without incomes because public health concerns required them to stop working. Working with state unemployment insurance offices, local governments, and the affected industries, these workers should be identified as soon as possible, and provided assistance to make up for their lost wages. Many of these workers, including all that are independent contractors, are poorly served by existing unemployment insurance programs or not currently covered. Few are likely to receive paid sick time—and the few days of sick leave will be soon exhausted in any case.

Timely economic assistance to these low-paid workers will help contain the economic desperation that otherwise could spread as ferociously as the pandemic itself.

The undersigned organizations represent human service providers, faith organizations, and policy experts. We commend the U.S. House’s swift action in passing the Families First Coronavirus Act to provide immediate relief and the certainty that Congress is functioning in a crisis. Congress must again act swiftly and aggressively to deal with a steadily worsening economic situation and address the shortcomings in the Families First Act, such as protecting the health and financial capacity of frontline human service providers.

FPWA (formally Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies)

Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York

UJA-Federation of New York

Fiscal Policy Institute

New York Housing Conference

LiveOn NY

Human Services Council of New York

United Neighborhood Houses

Food Bank For New York City

Urban Justice Center

Children’s Aid

Center for New York City Affairs at the New School