NEW YORK (April 2, 2020) — In response to the release of the New York State Budget, Community Voices Heard Executive Director Afua Atta-Mensah, issued the following statement on behalf of members residing in all 5 boroughs of New York City, as well as Westchester, Dutchess, and Orange Counties:
“A global pandemic is not the time to continue politics as usual -- it should be a moment to push forward bold, ambitious policy solutions that will uplift and protect low-income and working families during a public health crisis. Instead of compassion, New York State has offered up harsh austerity measures that won’t help anyone besides the wealthy one percent.
“We organize with public housing residents, private tenants in regulated and unregulated units, individuals who have or are currently experiencing homelessness, seniors, low-wage workers, immigrants, and so many more marginalized communities who are being hit especially hard by COVID-19. Our members are struggling to pay their bills, to keep food on the table, and to keep their families and communities safe while living and working in unhealthy conditions. They need and deserve more support from their elected officials than this budget gives them.
“The new budget fails to provide urgently needed relief for low-income tenants, homeless New Yorkers, and public housing residents most vulnerable to coronavirus. The callous choice to cut Medicaid funding to hospitals during a pandemic is another reckless attack on these same communities. And the roll-backs to bail reform are an underhanded political tactic that will prove deadly for Black and brown New Yorkers who are currently incarcerated.
“This budget cannot be the final word on how New York State responds to our current crisis. Governor Cuomo, the State Senate, and State Assembly must continue to work toward executive and legislative action to cancel rent, invest in public housing, house the homeless, ensure access to healthcare, and release incarcerated people to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 within a woefully unprepared prison system. We urgently call on our elected officials to join us in standing up for communities of color and low-income & working families in this time of crisis and beyond.”