Fall 2005 • New York’s 66th Assembly District In Action • ISSUE 35
Following terror threats in the city and Hurricane Katrina, many New Yorkers are once again on edge. While it is certainly understandable that individuals may feel vulnerable, people need not feel powerless.
I encourage you to organize your block association, co-op board or tenant association to build a network of support in the event of an emergency. For example, you may keep a list of residents who may need assistance evacuating or getting supplies in an emergency. Or you may compile a list of resident pets who may require care if their owner is unable to return to their home for a period of time. It need not be for a major event, but even a water main break can create serious disruptions to water, electric and elevator service.
If there is no existing organization appropriate for this purpose, I encourage you to take the initiative to reach out to an elderly or disabled neighbor, or one who lives alone. Assure them that, in the event of an emergency, though they may live alone, they will not be alone. Offer to check on them and assist them in getting food, medication and other supplies if necessary.
Although neighbors may be in the best position to support and assist one another, too often, they do not even know one another. By reaching out to your neighbors to discuss emergency preparedness, you will build a valuable relationship with them while helping both your neighbor and yourself to feel more powerful in dealing with potential emergency situations. I encourage you to take this step.
|Assemblymember Glick joins colleagues Assemblymember Danny O’Donnell, State Senator Tom Duane, Assemblymember Dick Gottfried and former State Senator Catherine Abate in calling on Mayor Bloomberg to drop his appeal of the ruling permitting same-sex marriage in New York.|
Order Free Credit Reports
Due to a change in federal law, the three nationwide consumer reporting companies are now each required to provide you with one free copy of your credit report every year, at your request. In addition to guarding against identity theft, reviewing your credit reports helps to ensure that they are error free so that creditors, insurers and other interested parties will accurately be able to assess your creditworthiness.
To order reports from one or all three credit reporting agencies by phone, call (877) 322-8228 or visit www.annualcreditreport.com. You may also contact my office at (212) 674-5153 and we will mail the appropriate form to you.
Protecting Small Businesses
In addition to its historic character and colorful residents, the small, independently-owned businesses located downtown are a large part of what makes Lower Manhattan’s neighborhoods so unique and popular. Unfortunately, as these factors have caused the popularity of Lower Manhattan to increase, the cost of living and doing business downtown has skyrocketed, putting additional pressure on small business owners.
It has been sad to see the demise or forced relocation of many of the beloved and long-established local businesses which have traditionally characterized the Lower Manhattan streetscape. In addition to adding to the charm of neighborhoods, the businesses often serve the everyday needs of residents. But the ability of such service businesses to raise their rates to keep pace with dramatically rising rents is limited. As a result, these unique establishments are too often replaced with chain stores, banks or expensive boutique type stores which have no meaningful connection to their neighborhood. Other times, in place of what was once a vibrant and popular local business, the community gets an empty storefront while the building owner awaits a business which can pay higher rent.
While there is much government focus on assisting large businesses, smaller businesses are badly in need of support. Although more needs to be done to assist them, there are some resources available to aid small businesses. Because it is often difficult to find this information, my office has compiled a pamphlet detailing aid that is currently available for small businesses. The Small Business Resource Guide outlines both government and non-government assistance for small business owners, from low-interest, government-backed loans to grants for business façade improvements, and from marketing assistance to one-on-one business mentoring and problem-solving. If you are a small business owner and would like a copy of my Small Business Resource Guide, or if you would like to share a copy of this guide with a neighborhood business, please call my office at (212) 674-5153.
I believe that protecting cherished small businesses is an important part of preserving the character, feel and charm of the neighborhoods that I represent and I will continue to do all I can to assist the small businesses in my district. If you are a small business owner, you may help me in this effort by calling or emailing my office to be added to our list to receive periodic updates about small business resources and to learn how you can share with me your ideas and suggestions for supporting small businesses.
Assistance for Needy New Yorkers
If you or somebody you know is having difficulty meeting the costs of everyday expenses, there is a range of assistance available to help you. It can be difficult, however, to navigate the often maze-like system through which individuals apply for assistance. For this reason, I am including some information about a few programs that may be available to assist you.
The Food Stamps program provides a monthly allotment that can be used by income-eligible individuals and families to purchase food. To be eligible for Food Stamps, a single individual must have gross monthly income of no more than $1,037 and net monthly income (after deductions for a range of expenses from education costs to child support payments) of no more than $798. For each additional family member, gross income eligibility increases by approximately $350 and net income eligibility increases by roughly $270 per additional person.
To apply for Food Stamps, you should visit your local Human Resources Administration office. For Lower Manhattan, the office is located at the Waverly Job Center at 12 West 14th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The Center’s phone number is (212) 352-2576. For general information about Food Stamps, you may call the HRA infoline at (877) 472-8411.
Lifeline Telephone Service
Lifeline is Verizon’s discounted home telephone service for individuals who receive public assistance or who are income-eligible to receive Medicaid, Food Stamps, Family Assistance or other federally-funded public benefits. You can get an application by calling (800) 555-5000, or on the web at: http://archive.pulp.tc/html/verizon_telephone_lifeline.html.
If you already receive Lifeline Telephone Service, you should know that new federal legislation requires you to recertify for this service every year. You should have received a form in the mail which needs to be returned to Verizon with proof of your eligibility for public assistance. If you have not received this form or need another copy, you should call Verizon Lifeline Service at (888) 617-0200. It is very important that you recertify your phone service so that you are not automatically switched from Lifeline discount rates to regular rates.
Home Energy Assistance Program
As costs for home energy continue to increase, the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) can provide vital assistance to low-income New Yorkers to help pay for heating and electricity. Grants range from $40 to $400 and eligibility is determined by income and utility costs. Eligibility for a household of one is approximately $1,700 monthly, with income eligibility limits increasing roughly $500 for each additional household member. HEAP is available to both owners and renters who pay their utility bills directly as well as renters who pay their utility bills as part of their rent. Applications for HEAP can be obtained by calling (800) 692-0557 and are available on the web at http://www.nyc.gov/html/hra/html/serv_heap.html. Please be aware that HEAP is a limited fund, so apply as early after November 1st as possible.
Protect Your Child from Unwanted Solicitations
For many parents and students, calls and letters from military recruiters can be upsetting or at the very least, a nuisance. These contacts may often result from the No Child Left Behind provision requiring schools that receive federal funding to disclose the names, addresses and phone numbers of students to military recruiters and institutions of higher education. Since the New York City Department of Education receives federal funds, it must disclose your child’s contact information to recruiters and colleges unless told otherwise by a student’s parent or guardian.
In order to prevent unwanted disclosures to either the military or colleges and universities (or both), New York City schools must provide parents the opportunity to opt-out of one or both of these lists. Parents may do so either by completing forms provided by their child’s school or informing the school of their wishes in writing.
If you have concerns about your child being contacted either by the military or institutions of higher education, I encourage you to talk with your child and contact your child’s school. Remember that if schools do not receive a form or letter from a parent, they will automatically include their child’s name on recruiting lists, even though it may be against the wishes of the parent(s).
Celebrate CUNY Month
During the month of November, the City University of New York (CUNY) will celebrate CUNY month by holding open houses, financial aid workshops and special events at each of its 19 colleges. This is a great time to learn more about CUNY’s undergraduate and graduate degree programs, tuition-free Honors College, new Graduate School of Journalism, weekend study, online classes, English as a Second Language courses and Adult and Continuing Education.
The nation’s largest urban university, CUNY provides high-quality, affordable education options to the more than 450,000 students enrolled in its colleges each year. In fact, at least one-third of all college-educated New Yorkers are CUNY graduates— including me. Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Actor and Comedian Jerry Seinfeld and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer are among the many distinguished graduates of CUNY. I encourage you to explore the possibility of joining us by taking advantage of the activities offered during CUNY Month.
A listing of open houses and other special CUNY Month events is available at www.cuny.edu/cunymonth or by calling CUNY’s hotline at (800) CUNY YES. In addition, you may visit CUNY’s new walk-in Welcome Center in the Grace Building opposite Bryant Park (42nd Street between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas) from Monday to Thursday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. or Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Counselors are available with information about applying to a CUNY college, financial aid, how to prepare for a particular career, internships, and much more.