During this Zoom Stated meeting, the council unanimously passed dozens of the typical land use applications and low-profile real estate tax abatements that always make up a portion of its business.
The council introduced a package of bills at the meeting meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus and to help New Yorkers who have held their health or jobs or finances affected by the disease. It includes a bill that would close some 75 miles of city streets to cars in order to allow New Yorkers more space outside, and another that would halt all residential and commercial evictions for 12 months. Another bill would effectively close some city homeless shelters during the pandemic and instead let homeless New Yorkers stay in unused hotel rooms. Council Speaker Corey Johnson said he wants to move quickly, and the next meeting of the full legislative body is currently scheduled for May 5.
The Bill of Rights
The City Council is proposing a pause on evictions and a “bill of rights” for essential workers:
- The city would provide all single adult homeless people with private rooms during the pandemic to reduce their risk of infection – essentially requiring many shelters to close.
- Marshals and city sheriffs will be prevented from the taking and restitution of property or executing money judgments during the coronavirus crisis – effectively pausing evictions and debt collection.
- Tenants get additional time to pay rent, and bars the collection of debts and performance of evictions on all New Yorkers impacted by COVID-19 until April 2021.
- Harassing residential and commercial tenants based on their status as someone impacted by the disease, including if they were laid off or their business had to close, would result in penalties of between $2,000 and $50,000 under two other bills.
- Employers with more than 100 workers have to pay hourly employees $30 for a shift under four hours, $60 for a shift of four to eight hours and $75 for any shift over eight hours. Proposed legislation would end this obligation when the coronavirus state of emergency is lifted.
The New York City Council held its first meeting on Wednesday, remotely, since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.
Watch the live stream below and future hearing on MNN or here:
Stated meetings, which are normally done once or twice a month, are meetings of the entire Council to introduce and vote on legislation. Since they can’t meet in person at City Hall, lawmakers will meet remotely and vote using the video conferencing service Zoom.
The City Council has not met in person since March 13th.