Assemblymember Harry Bronson (D-Rochester) announced he helped pass several bills designed to mitigate the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bills provide protections and financial assistance to homeowners, renters, utility customers, small businesses, not-for-profit organizations and workers receiving unemployment benefits.
Nothing is more important than protecting the health and safety of our friends and neighbors, Bronson said. As businesses and workplaces closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, economically vulnerable members of our community have been forced to shoulder an incredibly heavy financial burden. Providing economic assistance and financial flexibility at this time is essential.
More than 1.82 million New Yorkers have been laid off since March 1, 2020, and the states unemployment rate stands at 14.5%. According to the Pew Research Center, 43% of adults nationwide stated that they or someone in their household had lost a job or taken a pay cut because of the ongoing pandemic.
The Assembly passed a number of bills aimed at protecting access to housing and critical utilities during the present crisis. These include legislation authorizing municipalities to place a moratorium on property tax foreclosures and tax lien sales (A.10518) and a measure permitting local governments and school districts to delay property tax collections (A.10252-A). In addition, legislation was also passed prohibiting certain evictions during the crisis (A.10290-B), a measure requiring lenders regulated by the state of New York to allow residential borrowers to apply for a six month forbearance on mortgage payments (A.10351) and a moratorium on utility shutoffs during the pandemic (A.10521).
At a time when economic hardship is widespread, policies designed to prevent the loss of housing are critical social justice and public health measures, said Bronson. Ensuring our neighbors have the protections to stay in their homes while they make the necessary arrangements to pay their rent, mortgage or property taxes will help avert future financial problems.
Bronson also helped pass legislation granting industrial development agencies (IDAs) the temporary authority to issue short-term loans of up to $25,000 to not-for-profit organizations and small businesses (A.10294-A). Under this bill, IDAs would also be authorized to offer grants and in-kind donations for small businesses and not-for-profit groups to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and other fixtures designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Legislation was also passed authorizing the New York State Dept. of Labor to suspend unemployment forfeiture penalties on past claims made by New Yorkers currently out of work as a result of the pandemic (A.10348-A).
Providing relief for unemployed workers, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations will go a long way in helping to restart the economic engine of the Rochester region, said Bronson.