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City Limits City Limits uses in-depth reporting to expose problems, uncover solutions and empower communities in New York City.

City Limits uses in-depth reporting to expose problems, uncover solutions and empower communities in New York City. Founded in the midst of New York's fiscal crisis, City Limits exists to inform democracy and equip citizens to create a more just city. The organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit funded by foundation support, ad sponsorship and donations from readers.

Mission: City Limits publishes in-depth reporting and commentary on New York City's most pressing issues

As New York continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also at risk of losing more than 9,000 immigrant essential w...
05/06/2020
Looming DACA Ruling Has Thousands of Essential Workers on Edge

As New York continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also at risk of losing more than 9,000 immigrant essential workers who cover crucial positions in the healthcare, education and food-related industries, among others.

Their fate hangs in the balance as the Supreme Court will decide as early as this week on the legality of the Trump administration’s 2017 decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which grants temporary work permits and deportation deferrals to 690,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children before 2007.

More than 200,000 DACA recipients nationwide are considered essential workers in the pandemic, according to the policy institute Center for American Progress (CAP). In New York, they include Hina Naveed, a nurse working in Staten Island and a DACA recipient.

Naveed, 29, works with a foster-care agency, a job she’s now doing remotely under lockdown. She’s the main point of contact for dozens of foster families, providing them with information and emotional support and connecting them with doctors if needed. As she awaits the Supreme Court’s decision, she worries about what would happen to her clients should she be targeted for deportation.

More than 200,000 DACA recipients nationwide are considered essential workers in the pandemic.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, 22-year-old Mahutin Paul was planning to travel in March to San Antonio, Texas, for th...
05/05/2020
Job Seekers Meet Obstacles and Opportunities Amid COVID-19

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, 22-year-old Mahutin Paul was planning to travel in March to San Antonio, Texas, for the National Society of Black Engineers’ annual convention. Paul—a mechanical engineering student at City College—is hunting for a summer internship, and also hoping to line up a full-time job for when he graduates in December.

But those plans have been complicated by the pandemic. Many summer internships have been cancelled or delayed, and like most big events, the job convention was postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak. It was replaced instead with a virtual career fair which Paul attended Thursday, logging into an online event platform that allowed participants to visit the “booths” of different employers for a chance to chat remotely with job recruiters there.

“It was interesting. A little confusing,” he says. “Not the same as, let me go up to you in person, say ‘Hey,’ shake your hand. None of that.”

With all but essential businesses still under lockdown, the city’s job market has been upended by COVID-19: New York lost more than a million jobs last month, pain that’s likely to continue for some time, with experts fearing the unemployment rate could climb as high as 27 percent as a result of the pandemic. Those who are actively looking for work face a new reality: While certain industries continue to hire in numbers, those positions available tend to be public-facing roles — meaning job seekers must weigh their need for a paycheck against the health risks posed by such work.

Those who are actively looking for work face a new reality: While certain industries continue to hire in numbers, those positions available tend to be public-facing roles.

Earlier this month, employees of a top-rated Long Island nursing home said they began seeing some of the facility’s more...
05/04/2020
A Nursing Home Had One COVID Case. Then Came the New, Infected Patients.

Earlier this month, employees of a top-rated Long Island nursing home said they began seeing some of the facility’s more vulnerable residents suddenly growing sick. Several patients with dementia—already needing extensive, round the clock care—suddenly came down with high fevers. Most of them would develop pneumonia and eventually need oxygen. Then, they started dying.

“We had six people die in just three days. It’s catastrophic,” said a nurse in the ‘memory care’ unit on April 13th. “Some of them were like family to us. They even knew my kids.”

The nurse at Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Commack, asked to remain nameless out of fear of retribution.

By April 23rd, at least nine in the locked, isolated 60-bed memory care ward, all of whom had severe and debilitating dementia, had passed away from COVID, according to a spokesperson for Gurwin. (In a later exchange, Gurwin representatives declined to confirm the death toll for any specific units, citing patient privacy.)

The award-winning home struggled to keep its workforce equipped, to separate the staff dealing with infected and non-infected people, and to understand what the state's official death toll has to do with reality.

"As COVID-19 continues to devastate the country, we have witnessed the failure of Immigration Customs & Enforcement (ICE...
05/02/2020
Opinion: ICE Detention Facilities Have Failed to Protect People from COVID-19

"As COVID-19 continues to devastate the country, we have witnessed the failure of Immigration Customs & Enforcement (ICE) to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus in our local jails.

It is hard to imagine a government agency less equipped to address the COVID-19 pandemic than ICE. Even under “normal” circumstances before the pandemic, ICE proved itself incapable of safeguarding the people in its custody, with dozens of people dying in their custody with no apparent political consequences. This is an agency that continues to incarcerate children and parents for the sole fact that they were born outside the country. Just a month before the outbreak in New York, ICE shot a man in the face in Brooklyn while effectuating a civil arrest; an egregious, violent escalation that resulted in no accountability or remorse by the agency. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic was on the rise in New York, and despite knowing the health risks inherent to any carceral setting, ICE continued to make civil arrests and shuttle people throughout jail facilities in upstate New York and New Jersey. The first person to test positive in ICE custody nationwide was incarcerated in an ICE jail across the Hudson River.

ICE continues to insist that only 16 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in their local facilities in New Jersey. However, we are certain that this number does not reflect reality ."

'The safe release of all people in ICE custody is the only reasonable solution to a global health crisis wreaking havoc in its jails. '

New York City has largely relied on social distancing measures to control the spread of the coronavirus so far. Once New...
05/01/2020
Here’s What Contact Tracing Will Likely Look Like in NYC

New York City has largely relied on social distancing measures to control the spread of the coronavirus so far. Once New Yorkers in non-essential sectors return to their jobs, the city will need another way to control the spread of the virus, especially without a vaccine or proven treatment available. That’s why public health experts say contact tracing is the next step.

On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city is hiring 1,000 people to conduct contact tracing. The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will supervise the tracers once the agency’s non-profit partner, the Fund for Public Health in New York City, screens and hires this new workforce.

For contact tracing to work well, New York City officials will have to start educating people on this concept.

Four steps make up the basis of contact tracing: Identify all cases of the disease as people contract it. Interview the person who is ill to figure out any contacts who were potentially exposed to the disease. Contact the people you think might have been exposed. Communicate with the person who is ill and their contacts to ensure they know how to address the disease and understand what they must do to prevent the disease from spreading further.

New York City is hiring 1,000 contact tracers with an immediate start date. For contact tracing to really work, we all need to understand what it means.

Thousands of families teetering on the brink of homelessness before the coronavirus hit New York City now face even more...
04/29/2020
Demands for Deeper NYC Homeless Aid Despite Budget Tightening

Thousands of families teetering on the brink of homelessness before the coronavirus hit New York City now face even more peril as an economic shutdown triggers unprecedented unemployment — a devastating development for people living paycheck to paycheck.

Without serious intervention, policy experts and advocates say, the current crisis threatens to fuel an increase in homelessness in a city where more than 114,000 public school students lacked a stable place to stay at some point last year, and where families with children account for the vast majority of New Yorkers sleeping in Department of Homeless Services shelters.

As formal budget negotiations get under way between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council, homeless advocates have outlined a series of long-term priorities and acute coronavirus-related needs they say the city must fund to reverse an historic homelessness crisis that will only get worse, and more deadly.

As formal budget negotiations get under way homeless advocates have outlined a series of long-term priorities and acute coronavirus-related needs they say the city must fund.

How bad will NYC's economic and fiscal fallout from COVID-19 be? Join WBAI's Max & Murphy Show Wednesday at 5, when Jarr...
04/28/2020
WBAI-FM Live Radio Player

How bad will NYC's economic and fiscal fallout from COVID-19 be? Join WBAI's Max & Murphy Show Wednesday at 5, when Jarrett Murphy of City Limits and Ben Max from Gotham Gazette host New School economist James Parrott and UWS Councilmember Helen Rosenthal ... and take your calls! 5-6 p.m. on 99.5 FM

The weekend of April 18, three people died while staying in Manhattan’s Hilton Garden Inn on 37th Street, one of the hot...
04/27/2020
Hotels as COVID Convalescent Homes: Challenges for Patients, Staff

The weekend of April 18, three people died while staying in Manhattan’s Hilton Garden Inn on 37th Street, one of the hotels participating in New York City’s program to make rooms available for people who tested positive for the coronavirus or are symptomatic.

The purpose of the city’s hotel program is to provide places for people to isolate without spreading the virus to other members of their households. Rooms have also been made available for some individuals who are homeless and health care workers who are frequently in contact with patients, so they can avoid exposing their family members at home.

While the use of hotels as isolation facilities can be an effective weapon against the spread of the virus, the method also poses challenges for consistent monitoring of people’s health and safety while staying in commercial hotels.

After three deaths at a hotel in Manhattan earlier this month, New York City promises increased resources for its program providing isolation hotels.

Even as affordable housing groups face complex financial and social choices amid the epidemic, affordable housing constr...
04/23/2020
What Will COVID-19 Mean for Housing Development in NYC?

Even as affordable housing groups face complex financial and social choices amid the epidemic, affordable housing construction is continuing, because it is considered essential. According to the city’s Essential Active Construction Sites data map, there are 689 affordable housing projects under way now.

Those are the newest units under Mayor de Blasio’s plan to build or preserve 300,000 units of affordable housing. Through October 2019, fewer than half of those units had been started by the city, and the build-out is supposed to last into 2026. That means much of the initiative will play out in a post-COVID world. The pandemic and its economic aftershocks could affect the de Blasio housing plan in a number of ways. An economic downtown could reduce some costs for acquiring and building new housing, but it could also hamper the ability to fund new housing and deepen the needs of the tenants it serves.

According to the NYU Furman Center, the immediate future of affordable housing depends on two factors: whether social-distancing rules force a slowdown in new construction, and whether there is any substantial drop in the value of tax credits, which are vital to funding new housing. During the last recession the value of tax credits fell substantially. If the value falls, then the government (city, state or federal) has to put in more subsidies to achieve the same volume of housing.

Others say that making the math of affordable housing work depends on the government recognizing that developers and operators face some costs that will not automatically adjust in light of the crisis.

Affordable housing developers, tenant advocacy groups and real-estate operators are grappling with the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

It’s an era of gargantuan numbers and dismal expectations. Nearly a million New York City schoolkids are learning from h...
04/22/2020
City's COVID-19 Job Shock Could Be Worse Than Official Estimates

It’s an era of gargantuan numbers and dismal expectations. Nearly a million New York City schoolkids are learning from home. More than 14,000 people are dead. Millions of masks and thousands of ventilators have been desperately sought.

At least one gargantuan and dismal number could be larger than public officials have been saying.

The city’s Office of Management and Budget has said it expects the city to lose half a million jobs over the first three quarters of this year—from January to September. The Independent Budget Office has projected 475,000 fewer jobs in March 2021 than there were in March 2020.

But two New School economists believe these estimates dramatically understate what has happened just since April 1.

In a report released last week, James Parrott and Lina Moe argue that in this month alone, New York City has lost 1.2 million jobs
https://citylimits.org/2020/04/22/citys-covid-19-job-shock-could-be-worse-than-official-estimates/

Has the city already lost more than a million jobs?

In New York’s agricultural areas, farm owners in mid-March began giving workers with vehicles a letter to show that they...
04/20/2020
Undocumented, Essential and Sick: COVID-19 Comes to the Farm

In New York’s agricultural areas, farm owners in mid-March began giving workers with vehicles a letter to show that they were essential workers in case police stopped them.

Workers say the designation raised deeper questions. Are we essential now, they wondered. Essential to whom? They knew they were essential to their families, to the people back home to whom they sent money. But were they know official essential to the farm, the county, the supermarkets, the consumers, the state?

“The most essential are the most marginalized and excluded,” says Emma Kreyche, the Worker Justice Center’s advocacy director in New York. “If we were so essential and if they cared that much about us, they would have provided insurance for us.

“We come to work all year round with a fever, cough or flu,” said the organization Agricultural Alliance in a statement. “The problem is that there is no plan for what would happen if a worker gets sick and then: Where would one live for two weeks? Who would take care of one’s family? Would one have medical service? How are we going to get food while sick?” adds the organization.

First came the fever, then dark urine and diarrhea, then a cough 'that wanted to tear my throat up.' And then his roommate got sick, too.

The state’s parole system, which criminal-justice reformers tried and failed to reform last year, is emerging as a key o...
04/19/2020
The Coronavirus Thread: People Detained for Parole Violations Still at Risk, Advocates Say

The state’s parole system, which criminal-justice reformers tried and failed to reform last year, is emerging as a key obstacle to reducing density behind bars as COVID-19 continues to kill hundreds of New Yorkers each day.

Last spring, in the wake of sweeping reforms earlier in 2019 to New York’s bail laws, advocates lobbied state lawmakers to reform the system by which people on parole are sent to jail on charges that they had violated technical rules of their release. That reform was seen as an indispensable move to reduce the population on Rikers Island as part of the city’s plan to shutter the island’s jails and open borough-based facilities instead.

Albany did not deliver change. Now, despite the release of more than 1,400 people from the city’s jails since the onset of COVID-19, concern remains about unnecessary detentions, and it largely focuses on the parolee population. In a report released on Saturday, the Lippman Commission—the body whose 2017 report paved the way for the Close Rikers plan—emphasized the parolee population as it exhorted the city and state to do more to protect people in jails from the coronavirus.

The new budget totals $89.3 billion, with more than $2 billion in cuts. These cuts include service reductions for 50 municipal initiatives, but programs serving the city's youth incurred some of the most significant cuts.

The mounting death toll from COVID-19 is shocking and the economic devastation wrought by the health crisis stuns at eve...
04/16/2020
Former City Health Commish: 'Epidemics Uncover the Fissures in Our Society'

The mounting death toll from COVID-19 is shocking and the economic devastation wrought by the health crisis stuns at every turn. But to Dr. Mary Bassett, who helped New York City navigate earlier encounters with Ebola, Legionnaires’ disease and Zika, the damage inflicted by the coronavirus is not entirely surprising.

“I would say that it’s entirely predictable that there’s a massive outbreak in the United States. We had galloping inequalities for decades now,” Bassett, who now serves as the director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, told WBAI’s Max & Murphy Show on Wednesday. “We have many people who work under precarious circumstances and can’t afford to not go to work. … Astoundingly, among wealthy nations, we have no national health insurance. Even before the job losses associated with COVID, 28 million people between the ages of 18 to 65 are underinsured.”

“The cost of housing means that many people, not only low-income people, live in quite crowded circumstances where the public health advice to stay six feet away just doesn’t make sense,” she continued. “All these were a set up for this highly contagious virus.”

Inequities have an everyday impact, in the form of obesity, hypertension, asthma and other chronic conditions. But the inequalities come into sharp relief during a crisis.

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City Limits uses investigative journalism through the prism of New York City to identify urban problems, examine their causes, explore solutions, and equip communities to take action.

Founded in 1976 as a newsletter for affordable housing advocates, City Limits has produced journalism that has informed and empowered our reader to create a more just city for over 40 years.

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