Respect and dignity. Those are the two values on which the political platform of New York’s largest community organization, Make The Road NY, is based. The agenda that this platform proposes in 2021 to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Albany Chambers is, in essence, an extension of the social network on issues such as health, housing, education and personal safety. The current network, despite COVID, does not cover, or does so insufficiently, immigrants or workers of color in low-income sectors.
They all have names, families, social security or ITIN numbers with which they pay taxes, and stories of harsh living conditions that have been complicated in the last 10 months by the pandemic to the point that they speak of survival.
This is the case of Esperanza Camano her husband and two children. The family rents a house in Brooklyn that they could lose in April. The couple struggled in 2020 to pay rent that went up from $ 1,375 a month to $ 2,000, but they fell behind in their payments and ended up in court. They both lost their jobs between March and July.
Camano said while wiping his tears that although they look for apartments they don’t see anything that is not expensive. “We need legal protections against rent increases to live with dignity,” he said.
Camano was one of the people who on Thursday joined a good number of legislators in Albany to present the MRNY platform and who as a first measure calls for a recovery for all from COVID and that responding to the challenges of the inequalities that the pandemic has left so evident.
For this, the creation of a fund for workers excluded from unemployment benefits and other relief due to lack of income due to their immigration status or because they have been recently imprisoned is requested. Its crisis is for the entire economy and that is why protection is requested.
How to pay for it? That is somewhat complicated given the strong deficit of the state, which is why it is requested that a new tax be approved to record the benefits on the invested capital even if it has not materialized (for example, because no shares have been sold and it has been really collected their performance). People who have more than $ 1 billion would pay this tax. Capital gains when they do not materialize are countable and vary because they depend on the ups and downs of investments.
MRNY believes that some $ 23 billion could be raised in one year, enough to pay the unemployment benefits that would be collected by any other worker who is not eligible. Deborah Axt, co-executive director of this organization, dismissed Cuomo’s criticism of this tax, which she says is only viable if it is federal to prevent billionaires from leaving the city. Axt said she was tired of the Republican arguments by Democratic elected officials and recalled that studies from several universities indicate that millionaires do not come from their cities for tax reasons.
This organization is also advocating for the cancellation of rent and mortgages for small homeowners as due to COVID paying what is owed is going to be very difficult. Despite the moratorium on evictions, the payments are piling up and many tenants have ended all aid received. In New York there are about 92,000 homeless and the evictions herald a greater number of them.
The schools is another of the objectives of MRNY that wants to end the strong disciplinary sanctions that they describe as ineffective and that not only harm black communities more than the rest but also create a path for education to be abandoned and increase the marginalization that drives many young people into the criminal system.
In this time of pandemic, the platform for dignity and respect includes the creation of a temporary plan for New Yorkers who are 200% above the poverty line have COVID but are excluded from protection due to their immigration status. It is a step to continue advancing in universal protection.
In order to pay for these and other programs they propose, they consider essential that an income package called Invest in Our New York, with which it is estimated that $ 50,000 million can be raised for programs dedicated to low-income people. The capital gains or capital gains tax with which you want to pay unemployment is part of this package that also contains new and higher tax brackets for the “super rich” as well as inheritance taxes, capital income and taxes. financial transactions in addition to a reinforcement to avoid tax evasion.
John Liu, one of the about 20 congressmen called to the conference, explained that the actions requested by this organization are necessary and that the tendency of the states is to raise taxes, not lower them.
Norma Ureiro says that once she went to buy a coffee at a Seven-11 a policeman told her that she had five minutes to leave the premises. On another occasion she was mistaken for a prostitute while she was with her boyfriend. To refer to her situation, she explained that trans women “are always harassed by the police simply for existing.”
It is something that can change. The Albany Senate agreed yesterday to see a law known as “walking while trans” and since 1976 criminalizes being in public places for the purpose of committing offenses related to prostitution. It is something that has led to harassment by the police to this community, especially to trans Latinos.
MRNY has the repeal of this law on its agenda and regrets that trans people have long been arrested simply for walking or walking from the subway to their home.