Wednesday, March 25, 2020

RIRA President Calls For Roosevelt Island Coronavirus Rent Moratorium On Commercial And Residential Leases - Also Urges Residents To Stay Home As Much As Possible, Support Local Front Line Community Heroes And Thanks NYC DOE For RI Children At PS/IS 217

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Interim President David Lawson reports on local response to Coronavirus Pandemic emergency:
Dear Fellow Roosevelt Islanders,

The Covid-19 pandemic is storming the entire world stronger and faster. We are confronted to an unprecedented worldwide humanitarian crisis. As of 24 March 2020, some 410,000 people from 170 countries have been infected. This is more than the entire population of the United States. More than 18,000 people have died in three months, including a third in Italy that now accounts for more deaths than China since the beginning of this epidemic. With 21,000 people infected in New York State, and some 15,000 and 131 deaths in New York city, we are the epicenter of the US epidemic.

The United States is usually, every year, the country the most affected by natural disasters. Natural disasters kill between 300-500 Americans every year. The cost of natural disasters in the US in 2019 was $15 billion for 14 major natural disasters across the country. The US federal Government is currently working out with Congress a $2 trillion bill. This is 130 times more than the costs of all the natural disasters hitting the United States altogether every year. This bill represents 40% of the 2019 national federal budget!! The current bill, which is aimed at supporting American workers, small businesses, corporations and the whole national economy is unprecedented in peace time.

The mobilization and coordination of all federal, State and local authorities all fighting and facing up this epidemic together at different levels everywhere in the country at once is also unprecedented. This is an US national emergency. Even though it is Spring break here, it is not a vacation. At the end of Spring break, students will not go back to schools and universities. All year-end exams have been cancelled by the federal government. It is unlikely that students go back to school this school year. We will all have a role to play in rebuilding the economy. We do not know when this crisis will end. But let us be realistic, it will take several months. It is going to be way worse…before it can indeed get better.

Rent moratorium on commercial and residential leases

Governor Cuomo has declared a moratorium on mortgages and prohibited eviction during the current crisis. Housing advocates have called on the city and state to develop a $10 billion relief package that includes a moratorium on rent, mortgage and utility payments to abate financial strain on New York households amid the growing economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. We strongly support this request. Meanwhile, we call on all commercial and residential building owners on Roosevelt Island to take it upon themselves to implement such a moratorium and waive the payment of leases and utilities for those businesses currently closed as a result of the forced shut down, as well as for all tenants who lost their job or will not receive a paycheck at the end of this month and any subsequent months, as a result of this Covid-19 pandemic. This is an extraordinary humanitarian crisis that calls for extraordinary humanitarian-type response and measures. This is not only a demonstration of solidarity, but it is also a demonstration of leadership through these times of crisis. And strong solidarity and leadership is all we need.

Stay home, quit vaping and smoking

For now, we all must continue to be proactively part of the humanitarian response. New York hospital emergency rooms are already overwhelmed, and we are only at the inception of this epidemic. We must stay home. 3 out of 5 Americans across the country is under some sort of similar lockdown measures. Staying home as much as possible, is how we can best fight the epidemic for now. It will allow our health system to cope with the influx of covid-19 patients and avoid that some fellow New Yorkers in need not be able to reach medical facilities because they are overcrowded.
Sure, it is not fun to stay home. But this is what must be done to help our community, our city and the country. When we must go out for grocery shopping, medicine collecting, exercise, take some fresh air, or walk the dog, we must stay away from people, keep physical/social distance (six feet) with anyone we cross, including people we know well, friends and related family. Walking or exercising outside should be only individual and far from anyone! There is no basketball, baseball, football or soccer playing in group or grouping in parks. Covid-19 is a respiratory disease; so now is a good time to quit vaping and smoking.

Support our Roosevelt Island front liners and community heroes

We wish to express our most sincere appreciation and thanks for all the front-liners: fire fighters, PSD, medical personnel and providers, nurses, paramedical staff in our medical offices on Main Street, our pharmacists at Food Town and Duane Reade, the US Postal service personnel, the take-out and delivery personnel of the Roosevelt Island pizzeria, restaurants and take-away working around the clock to have our food ready, the doormen of our buildings who ensure our packages are delivered, the cashiers, personnel and delivery staff of grocery stores, and the RIOC personnel that keep our island essential services going, including the red buses and tram. All of them are serving Roosevelt Islanders and saving lives. You are our community heroes.

Given the public relations nature of some of their duties, we wish them to receive the protective equipment necessary for them to protect themselves or feel themselves secure while supporting all of us and the life of our island, while at the same time protecting us as well. They are all part of the priority response and support necessary for Roosevelt Island to continue to function in this humanitarian crisis.

Free meals for Roosevelt Island children in need

Thanks to the NYC Department of Education, PS217 is providing free breakfasts, luncheons and after-school snacks for all children, students of PS217 or not, without any identification required. "Grab and go" meals are available for all children. All three meals can be picked-up at once by parents for their children. These are provided for free from 7:30am to 1:30pm Monday through Friday. Meals cannot be consumed on-site. Parents, please take advantage of this opportunity, as it also alleviates the demand on grocery stores and restaurants take-out/delivery for other Roosevelt Island residents. Please make sure that you respect the 6-feet physical distancing rule as you visit PS217.