The City Council unanimously passed the COVID-19 Funding Tracker Bill on Thursday to establish a public database to track city spending.
Councilmembers Mark Treyger and Vanessa Gibson introduced the legislation in late May. It was also supported by 18 other councilmembers.
“As we learned following Superstorm Sandy, transparency of emergency and relief spending is critical,” said Treyger. “We will be judged by our ability to deliver a fair, just and equitable response to this pandemic. Coney Island has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and it is absolutely critical that we ensure resources are delivered to the hardest-hit communities as well as those areas that continue to have disparities that make them more vulnerable.”
“As we continue efforts to safely and slowly reopen the city, it is essential for us to ensure investments are being made to support senior citizens, immigrant communities, communities of color and other vulnerable populations that were hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Gibson.
The new database will include expenditures of federal, state and local funding to address the pandemic, including grants, loans and city contracts exceeding $100,000.
According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, infection and death rates of COVID-19 have disproportionately affected low-income New Yorkers.
Coney Island has the fifth highest death rate per capita in the entire city, but is not included on the city’s list of “ hardest-hit communities,” which is being used to target resources.
“We had to fight to get masks after Southern Brooklyn was shut out of the distribution while Prospect Park had three free distribution sites,” said Treyger. “We are not included on the list of ‘hardest-hit communities,’ while less impacted, whiter, wealthier neighborhoods are included, with no explanation from City Hall. As we continue to battle this crisis, it is imperative we ensure equity in the allocation of resources.”
Councilmember Justin Brannan said, “This tracker will be a powerful tool for lawmakers and civilians to be able to hold the city accountable for its spending, in times when the city budget is healthy and especially when it is not.”