Dan Morris. 917.952.8920
State Legislators, Advocates Unveil “Compassionate New York" Agenda to Save Lives and Billions of Dollars After COVID
The Agenda Brings Together Key Demands for Housing, Healthcare and Criminal Justice Reform
Speakers discussed how three key legislative items - guaranteeing healthcare for every New Yorker, stopping unjust evictions, and ending mass incarceration – can create a more Compassionate New York for all after COVID. Several statewide coalitions and campaigns, including Campaign for NY Health; Housing Justice for All; Justice Roadmap, jointly released the Compassionate New York agenda today, along with New Yorkers who live at the intersection of homelessness, lack of healthcare, and criminalization and incarceration.
A new report today reveals that the Compassionate New York agenda would save nearly $12 billion in the first year of implementation alone. The New York Health Act would reduce total healthcare spending by at least $10 billion, Good Cause Eviction protections would save over $1.6 billion, Elder Parole and Fair and Timely Parole bills would save $522 million annually, restoring financial aid access to incarcerated college students will save $22 million and Clean Slate legislation will expand New York’s GDP by $7 billion.
“In the last year New Yorkers have watched as Governor Cuomo mismanaged federal rent-relief funds causing our neighbors to be evicted, and allowed our elders to die in nursing homes and prisons. Today we call on the New York State Legislature to enact a better plan for life after COVID - one that will save billions of dollars, save lives, and advance a vision for a more compassionate New York,” according to the report.
Speakers at the Compassionate New York rallies in New York City and Rochester argued that this cross-issue agenda is needed to save lives, address systemic racism, create a more equitable pandemic recovery and allow all New Yorkers to thrive.
The following state legislators participated in the New York City rally: State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Assembly Member Gottfried, Senator Brad Hoylman, Senator Jabari Brisport, Assembly Member Carmen de la Rosa, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, Assembly Member Ron Kim, Assembly Member Emily Gallagher. Meanwhile, Senator Jeremy Cooney, Assembly Member Demond Meeks, Assembly Member Sarah Clark and Harry Bronson all participated in the Rochester rally.
“The Compassionate NY platform, which includes the New York Health Act, will put an end to the cycles of inequality that continue to burden communities like the ones I represent,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chairman of the Senate Health Committee. “The COVID-19 pandemic has painfully demonstrated that our healthcare, housing, incarceration, and immigration systems are broken. This platform’s bold proposals will repair and transform them so that every New Yorker, especially in Black and Brown communities, lives in an environment where they can thrive and live safe and healthy lives.”
Every year, a third of New York households with health coverage has someone who goes without needed health care because they can't afford it or suffers financial hardship to get it,” said Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee. “No one thinks that's acceptable. Almost every problem we face in health or health care is made worse and harder to solve because of the way we pay for health care. The New York Health Act is the only way to meet the need.”
"Black and brown communities need housing and healthcare, not cops and cages," said Marvin Mayfield, Lead Statewide Organizer at Center for Community Alternatives. "That's why advocates and impacted people are bringing together key demands for housing, healthcare and criminal justice reform to create the New York we all need to thrive. These are intersecting issues. Lack of stable housing and healthcare gets criminalized and are worsened by carceral responses. New York's legislature must pass the full Justice Roadmap and Compassionate New York agendas to end cycles of incarceration, homelessness and lack of care and to affirm the dignity and rights of all New Yorkers."
"We can't have healthy communities unless people have stable housing. Good cause eviction legislation will go a long way to ensure that formerly incarcerated individuals can come home and rebuild their lives and their families. And if we can combine that with access to healthcare we can reimagine a new New York grounded in compassion and healthy communities rather than our current bleak reality of incarceration, eviction, early death," said Lucas Sanchez, Deputy Director of New York Communities for Change (NYCC).
“Together, mass decarceration, guaranteed healthcare and housing affirm Black life, and create infrastructures for compassion, opportunity, stability and well-being," said YuLing Koh Hsu, Co-Director of the Campaign for New York Health. "Passing the New York Health Act will guarantee healthcare for all New Yorkers, help tackle the immense inequities built into our healthcare system, and save billions of dollars. Throughout this pandemic over a million New Yorkers were uninsured and millions more underinsured, with Black, brown and low-income New Yorkers taking on the greatest risk as they were less likely to have health care and more likely to be frontline workers. The current for-profit healthcare system works hand in hand with real estate profiteers and the prison industrial complex to extract wealth from us, take away our land, shutter our hospitals, deny us the care we need and dehumanize us — especially in our most marginalized communities. These intentionally racist and classist systems do not care about preventative care, continuity of care, mental health or long-term care - things we know improve public health, save money, reduce evictions, reduce homelessness, reduce incarceration and more.”
“As we look to revitalize New York after the COVID-19 pandemic, we must work to make this a more equitable State to live in for all of our neighbors,” said Senator Brad Hoylman. “That means providing healthcare, sparing tenants from evictions, and righting the wrongs of a broken criminal justice system that has targeted Black and Brown New Yorkers for decades. All these pieces of legislation we are advocating for add up to nearly $12 billion in savings in the first year of implementation alone. But passing legislation like my Elder Parole bill isn’t
just about dollars and cents, it’s about reuniting families and showing compassion to our neighbors. As we approach the rest of this year’s session, we all must be guided by compassion, and I thank Justice Roadmap, Housing Justice for All, and the Campaign for NY Health for charting this course to a more compassionate New York.”
“After coming home from prison and trying to put the pieces of my life back together, I finally found an apartment where I wasn’t denied on the basis of a background check,” said Devone Nash, member of Center for Community Alternatives. “ But after two years, and through no fault of my own, I was evicted and forced into the shelter system. Since then, it has been a cycle of denials and futile apartment searches. I have been charged for numerous application fees only to receive another denial. Throughout this ordeal it has been a struggle to maintain consistent adequate health care. I am so stressed out; don’t they understand that housing is health care?”