The holiday session will be different this year for many reasons. Many of us are choosing to skip the large family gatherings and outdoor events—a necessary sacrifice to slow the spread of Covid-19 as we approach winter. We must find other ways to spend meaningful time together—a task we’ve been challenged with since the pandemic started. At Citizen Action, we’re doubling down on our plans for the 2021 legislative session and campaigns to win a just recovery for all of us.
During the pandemic, we saw the rich get richer while working people struggle to afford basic necessities. Many New Yorkers are still waiting on relief nine months into this crisis. Some state leaders (Governor Cuomo) will say there’s no money for schools, health care and housing, and instead of raising taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers, would rather balance the budget on the backs of Black and Brown people. We’ve seen this happen even when there is no state of emergency. We know that the richest in our state must pay what they owe after decades of extracting wealth from our communities. We must tax the rich to fund our communities.
Around the State
People’s Action Town Hall
This week, our national affiliate organization, People’s Action, held a town hall to build on our election momentum and lay out our agenda for a People’s Bailout under the new administration. The townhall, “People’s Bailout: From Relief to Power,” was emceed by our co-executive director Rosemary Rivera and featured speakers like People’s Action staff, volunteers and organizers from across the country. The town hall focused on the deep canvassing that helped defeat Trump at the polls and the work before us to win justice for our communities. Leaders also spoke about the importance of organizing around relief. Click here to watch the replay.
Monthly Political Ed Committee Meeting
Citizen Action of New York’s political ed call was held on Thursday, November 19, with Sam Rini, our political education program manager. As with most calls and Zoom meetings, we did an energy check-in, and folks spoke about new developments in their lives and how they’re feeling after the election. Sam spoke about Citizen Action’s priority campaigns, plans heading into the state legislative session, her new role within the organization and ways to connect on the issues. If you’re interested in joining the monthly political ed calls, respond to this email and we’ll get you on the list. All are welcome. Also, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for announcements about upcoming events.
Demanding Police Accountability in Buffalo
Our Western New York chapter is doubling down on civil rights with a list of demands concerning police accountability in the region. Christian Parra, the chapter’s community organizer and member of Free the People WNY, was appointed to serve on Buffalo Mayor Bryon Brown’s commission to examine police, along with Citizen Action member Leslie Bishop. Christian said the commission has been hosting community forums to gather input. He is working on a presentation that outlines a set of local issues, including procedures regarding the release of body camera footage, reallocating a portion of the police budget to community programs, and removing cops as first responders to mental health calls, among other concerns. Christian recently interviewed Jesús, a community member, about the harassment he experienced when police showed up to his home to take him into custody. Jesús recorded the encounter. Click here to watch the video on YouTube. For information on this or ways to get involved with the Western New York Citizen Action chapter, contact Christian Parra. To read more about the commission, click here.
People Over Profits – Say NO to rate hikes
With the eviction moratorium expiring last month and National Grid proposing a rate increase for gas and electric consumers, it appears low-income New Yorkers cannot win for losing. New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet and are in dire need of relief. Yet, corporations like National Grid want to increase utility rates to build fracked gas pipelines. Communities that were hit hardest by the pandemic are going to feel the brunt of this rate increase. On Friday, Citizen Action joined NY Renews for a call about what’s next for climate action in New York and how folks can get involved. Check out our Tweets here.
Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve been asking for rent cancellation and a universal eviction ban. Now, 1.4 million households are behind on rent, and evictions are moving forward in New York. There are 14,000 active eviction warrants in New York City, with about 600 of those cases in the Bronx. There were eight evictions carried out by sheriffs in Albany in a span of two weeks. There are hundreds of active eviction warrants in Rochester, and on Tuesday, marshals showed up to evict Chris Green and his family. Thankfully, he was supported by his community and the eviction did not happen, although the marshals did return to attempt to evict him. Read more about this in the news here.
On October 6, Chris shared his story during a housing press conference with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Housing Justice for All advocates. Chris, a father of two, lost his job due to the pandemic. He gave an emotional testimony about dealing with chronic homelessness since the age of 16. “I’m tired. Who’s going to help the people that are really trying. We don’t have help. The news says they’re helping everybody, but they’re not,” he said. If you are someone you know is at risk for eviction, please fill out this form to join our fight for housing justice. You can watch Chris’ testimony, which starts at 10:00, here.
Paid Sick Days in NY
Kate Harrison Leon, Citizen Action workers rights outreach coordinator, joined Erika Aguilera of Worker Justice Center of New York for a Facebook live to discuss New York State Permanent Paid Leave. As many of you know, the program launched on September 30, when workers began to accrue time that can be used in January of next year. Kate also spoke about the emergency Covid-19 paid leave that is available to workers. Click here to watch the video. You can also learn more about your rights to paid leave in New York by visiting our resource page:https://citizenactionny.org/paidsickleave
Monday, November 23 at 6 p.m.
Buffalo Election Debrief
Join Citizen Action of Western New York and the NY Working Families Party for an election debrief! This Zoom event will provide a space for folks to learn more about the New York Working Families Party, and our vision for building power across New York. Click here to register. Visit the Facebook event page here. All are welcome!
New Member Orientation (Capital Region)
Wednesday, November 25 at 6 p.m.
The last Wednesday of every month, the Citizen Action Capital District chapter hosts its New Member Orientation call. This is a way for members to meet community organizers and learn more about the work the chapter is doing and get plugged in. Learn more here.
Tuesday, December 10 at 7- 9:30 p.m.
Mayoral Mental health Town Hall
New York City is facing an alarming increase in mental health crises. The next Mayor must recognize these challenges, and work with communities disproportionately affected by mental health concerns to develop concrete, actionable plans to repair our broken public health system and provide comprehensive, culturally competent, recovery-oriented mental health services. At this Town Hall, we’ll learn about the candidate’s solution on issues such as housing, policing, employment and education. Click here to register and learn more about this event.
Join the Movement
Citizen Action of New York is building power in communities across the state. Our members are the reason we’re able to do effective grassroots organizing and achieve justice for our communities. Our members give what they can when they can, and each contribution is directly invested in local leadership development. Click here to support.
There are many ways to get involved right now. Click here to contact a Citizen Action chapter in your area and ask how you can get involved locally.