I hope this message finds you and your loved ones in good health and in good spirits. Marked by giving and acts of kindness, the holiday season is a time when we look for ways to spread cheer and do for others. The holidays also shine a light on poverty as personal stories of need are highlighted. You hear about the hardworking parents who sometimes forgo meals so their young ones can eat. We think about the families who cannot afford basic necessities like clothing and doctor visits, who cannot afford to keep their homes warm during the winter, or access the child care they need to pick up those extra shifts to cover mounting bills. This is not how it should be. People are struggling due to no fault of their own—it’s corporate greed that brought us here.
We’re fighting to end a system that feeds on the pain and suffering of others—that says corporations can exploit a crisis and make billions of dollars while children starve, and where the wealthy make all the rules. This is how our society has functioned for far too long. There have been so many devastating moments this year that it’s almost difficult to pinpoint the bright spots. However, our movement for liberation has been reignited and is thriving. As we near the end of this tumultuous year, a bright spot worth noting is the strength of our mulitracial, multigenerational movement for justice.
Around the State
Mental Health Town Hall
New York’s mental health crisis has only gotten worse during the pandemic. The next New York City Mayor must recognize the mental health challenges everyday New Yorkers face and be devoted to working with communities to provide comprehensive mental health services. Citizen Action joined Correct Crisis Intervention Today NYC for a Mental Health Town Hall with candidates for NYC Mayor as panelists. The candidates discussed their plans to address the crisis if elected, especially in communities of color where there is often a lack of treatment and resources. Click here to watch a recording of the town Hall on Facebook.
Holiday Wish List Open Mic
With the holiday season approaching and so many people struggling to recover from the pandemic, we held a virtual holiday wish list open mic and press conference. Directly impacted New Yorkers and advocates presented a wish list to Santa, played by Stanely Fritz, our political director, and Mitch-the-Grinch. Mary Clark, our regional director and federal issues coordinator, hosted the open mic. Activists from all over the state asked for things like student loan forgiveness, paid sick and family leave, eviction protections and money for PPE for frontline workers, sharing their personal stories and the ways the pandemic has impacted them. Miss the open mic? Click here to watch it on YouTube. Of course, Santa granted everyone’s wish, but we’re hoping Mitch-the-Grinch’s heart softens before the holidays.
New York City Council Endorsements
This week, we announced the endorsements of a slate of emerging community leaders for New York City Council, including Mino Lora (CD11), Marjorie Velázquez (CD13), Althea Stevens (CD16) in the Bronx, Sandy Nurse (CD37) in Brooklyn, Tiffany Cabán (CD22), and longtime member/Citizen Action leader, Jesse Laymon in Queens (CD26). Citizen Action is also backing longtime progressive champion Jumaane Williams for re-election for New York City Public Advocate. Click here to read our full announcement. The primaries will be on June 22, 2021. View our announcements on Twitter!
Police Free Schools & Defund the Police
Earlier this year, we celebrated a huge victory won by parents, students and education advocates in Rochester: Police Free Schools! Rosemary Rivera, our co-executive director, and Stevie Vargas, former Citizen Action community organizer (now upstate campaign coordinator with AQE), participated in a podcast interview about what that process was like. Click here to listen.
Relief Can’t Wait – Take Action
Congress must pass a comprehensive Covid relief package before unemployment benefits, emergency paid sick days, and federal student loan protections expire at the end of this month. The current proposal does not include paid leave provisions, which would leave as many as 80 million workers without the ability to stay home if they are sick or caring for someone who is sick. During a deadly pandemic, this is outrageous. Click here to take action by sending a message to your representative to urge them to pass comprehensive Covid-19 relief now.
Eviction Free New York
Since the pandemic started, we’ve been asking for #CancelRent & #EvictionFreeNY and have only gotten half measures from Albany. New Yorkers who did have some rights to fight an eviction are set to lose those protections soon, and there are still thousands of cases moving forward in New York. We need state leaders to pass our coalition’s eviction bill and to cancel rent to provide relief to tenants and mom-and-pop property owners. Our bill establishes a fund to help small property owners while relieving tenants of the rent they clearly cannot afford to pay back. Nearly 60 percent of renters say they cannot make next month’s rent, and renters who haven’t been able to pay all or a portion of their rent since March are thousands of dollars in debt to property owners. We’re organizing with tenants and housing rights advocates statewide. If you or someone is at risk for eviction, reach out to us here: http://cit.ac/NYEvictionDefense
Join the Movement
We take on issues that make people’s lives better today while creating the political and ideological environment for transformational change. We work statewide to elect progressive candidates who will enact our priorities into legislation, and strategically integrate issue and electoral work.
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. Become a member. 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.
“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” – Shirley Chisholm