BOROUGHWIDE — The City Council is looking for ways to help individuals and businesses during the COVID-19. On Thursday, March 19, Council Speaker Corey Johnson proposed a $12 billion relief plan to help New York City businesses and workers impacted by the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
The multi-pronged proposal includes a temporary universal basic income for all New Yorkers, temporarily deferring fees and refunding business taxes, and up to $250,000 to cover fixed costs for impacted businesses.
It also includes unemployment protections for those who have had their hours cut, including freelance workers.
Johnson is calling for the plan to be paid for by the federal government. If the federal government fails to step up, Johnson believes that bonds could fund the plan. He said that New York City has a history of selling bonds to rebuild its economy after a disaster, including after 9/11, where the bonds served as the boost the city needed at the time.
Council estimates 500,000 workers have been hit the hardest
Based on the Council’s estimates, over 500,000 workers and more than 40,000 businesses are in the industries hardest hit during the COVID-19 crisis. These businesses generated $40 billion in taxable sales last year.
“This is a crisis unlike any we’ve ever seen,” said Johnson. “However, the tools that have helped us in the past can be utilized again. The difficult steps we’ve taken to protect ourselves and others are necessary, including social distancing and mandatory closures, but they are devastating our businesses and workers in every corner of the city.”
Johnson singled out restaurants and bars as among the hardest hit industries. The hospitality industry has been the most high-profile industry impacted, but gyms, performance venues, salons, retail shops and many other types of businesses are shuttering or close to it. This plan will provide relief not just for our economy, but also for the small businesses and workers that are the heart and soul of New York City,” Johnson added.
Brannan says the matter is personal
City Councilmember Justin Brannan, whose district includes Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Bath Beach, said the matter was personal.
“As the husband of a small business owner, I know the havoc that COVID-19 is wreaking on small businesses firsthand,” said Brannan.
“It is urgent that we immediately step up to support these businesses with tangible, substantial financial assistance that will allow them to weather the storm and be fully ready to bounce back when this is all over.”
Brannan said that he supported John’s relief plan wholeheartedly.
“It’s not just about the small business owners, but also the thousands and thousands of workers that rely on small businesses to make ends meet,” he explained. Small businesses are the economic and cultural lifeblood of our city. It is critical that we act quickly and boldly to save them.”