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Recovering from COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the lives of thousands of Bronxites, many of whom had underlying health conditions that are totally preventable.  It has highlighted the inequities that exist in our city.  I will work to focus on food access, affordable housing, economic development, small business support and working to create an improved healthcare system and creating new sustainable jobs.  Our essential workers have been on the frontlines everyday protecting and saving lives and we must recognize and support their work.  The pandemic has been a major setback for us in the Bronx but every setback is preparation for a comeback.  

Ensuring Equity in Vaccine Distribution

The process towards recovery begins with continued testing and proper vaccine distribution. COVID-19 testing has been crucial for assessing community safety and managing the spread of the virus, but as we see vaccines become readily available in the US, we will need even more community support. 

As Borough President, I will follow the facts and listen to the experts. I will ensure that communities of color have equal access to testing and vaccines because it is not enough to just have resources available — we must also distribute them equitably. 

With that, access to healthcare is an issue I aim to tackle holistically. Not only do we need comprehensive, low cost, and high quality health services, but we also need resources to prevent the underlying health conditions that led to many severe COVID-19 cases. 

A horrible reminder of the health disparities our residents face: the Bronx continues to have the distinction of being No. 62 of all the Counties in New York when it comes to positive health outcomes. During COVID-19’s peak, many residents who lost their battle were older with underlying conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity. It is important to focus on our overall health care infrastructure and access to affordable and low cost health care for all residents regardless of income and socio-economic status. Together, we can change these saddening statistics into success stories. 

Affordable healthcare is a fundamental right. Mental health resources are a right. Having a primary health care plan and consistent healthcare treatment is as well. Far too many use emergency rooms as a form of primary care, and far too many are unable to seek treatment for mental health struggles. We must focus on universal access to medical assistance, mental health treatment, and proper nutrition, especially for children and students, providing healthier choices, practices, and resources to make steps towards a healthier Bronx. 

 

Keeping Tenants in their Homes

The pandemic has also exacerbated major issues in our housing system, making it clear that the time for change is now. Many hard working Bronx residents saw no relief as their income was affected by state-wide COVID-19 shut downs, putting their homes, businesses, and livelihoods at stake. I am a long-time supporter of tenant protections and intend to expand those protections to assist the people currently behind on payments or facing evictions due to COVID-related circumstances. I am a strong advocate for rent cancellation and mortgage forgiveness for homeowners, tenants, and small landlords. Access to affordable and stable housing is a fundamental right, and no tenant should be evicted because they have fallen behind— especially during a pandemic. 

I am a proud prime sponsor of the Right to Counsel Law created in 2017, which implemented free legal representation for tenants in housing court. I will continue to fight for tenant protection and relief by advocating for rent and/ mortgage forgiveness programs for those whose incomes were affected by the pandemic, ensuring Bronx residents have the housing assistance they need and they remain in their homes.  

As we approach recovery, we must keep Bronx residents in their homes, expand affordable housing for New York’s growing homeless population, and keep small businesses open. We cannot continue to handle homelessness as we have been. We cannot dismiss the growing homeless population in our borough. Long-term homelessness and housing insecurity does not have to be a fact of life here in the Bronx. 

Supporting Small Businesses

We must focus on keeping small businesses open and operating safely under these trying conditions. Small businesses are the fabric and foundation of the Bronx. I recognize that COVID-19 has put much stress, insecurity, and worry at the forefront of these businesses and owner’s lives, and I will advocate for policies that aim to relieve some of this burden. From providing open streets for safe operation to proposing debt forgiveness plans, my COVID-19 recovery agenda will make small businesses a priority, ensuring that we provide the technical support, grants and other creative opportunities to uplift and strengthen our small businesses.