Tag: City

Legal Aid Society urges city to pause collections from SNAP, Medicaid recipients amid COVID-19

NEW YORK — The Legal Aid Society has urged New York City’s Human Resources Administration to halt plans to resume collections from SNAP, Public Assistance and Medicaid recipients.

Despite assurances that all agency claims and collections would be paused during the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates learned billing individuals with existing SNAP, Public Assistance and Medicaid payment and settlement agreements would restart on Nov. 1.

This would end the moratorium the agency put in place at the start of the outbreak in March.

The non-profit legal aid provider requested collections be halted for the duration of the pandemic or at least 60 days after the Federal Public Health Emergency is lifted.

Advocates have warned resuming collections will worsen the burdens New Yorkers are facing.

The Legal Aid Society’s sent a letter to Steven Banks, HRA Commissioner calling for the halt:

New York is continuing to fight the virus and pandemic while it ravages most of the country and at the same time, the COVID-19 emergency has resulted in high levels of unemployment and financial hardship for millions of New Yorkers… The hardest hit in terms of unemployment have been immigrants and people of color,communities which, in our experience, are disproportionately affected by the enforcement actions at issue here.

Applications for and enrollment in SNAP, Cash Assistance, and Medicaid have skyrocketed. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, an invaluable lifeline for millions of New Yorkers, has expired. Despite some reopenings, many businesses remain shuttered. Jobs are scarce and economic stability is a long way off, especially as New York attempts to ‘reopen’ safely. Moreover, if billings are resumed, the many individuals who are unable to meet their payments will be forced into litigation in state courthouses, which poses grave individual and public health concerns. Lastly, while we are aware of the fiscal crisis the City faces as a result of the COVID-19 emergency, budget shortfalls must not be met on the backs of struggling New Yorkers.”

As the state continues to make strides in fighting the spread of the virus, many New Yorkers continue to be affected by the pandemic’s financial crisis.

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A Chinese city is handing out $1.5 million in digital ‘red envelopes’ to lottery winners to trial a cashless society



a view of a city with tall buildings in the background: Futian district in Shenzhen, China. A different district, Luhou, took part in the digital currency pilot. Prisma by Dukas/Universal Images Group via Getty Images


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Futian district in Shenzhen, China. A different district, Luhou, took part in the digital currency pilot. Prisma by Dukas/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

  • Authorities in Shenzhen, southern China, have handed out $1.5 million of a new digital currency as part of a trial of a cashless society.
  • Last Friday authorities gave 50,000 lottery winners the equivalent of $30 each to spend digitally by October 16, the state-run China Daily reported Monday.
  • The digital currency is not like a cryptocurrency, and is issued and controlled by China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China.
  • The PBoC said it plans to formally launch the digital payment system in late 2020, according to the BBC.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Chinese city has handed out 10 million yuan, or $1.5 million, in digital currency to trial what citizens would do in a cashless society.

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On Friday, 50,000 people living in the Luhou district of Shenzhen were given digital “red envelopes,” each containing around 200 yuan ($30) worth of the digital currency, the state-run China Daily reported Monday.

The digital currency not a cryptocurrency, like bitcoin or ethereum, but a digitized version of the country’s renminbi currency that is run by China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China.

The country’s four largest state-owned banks are taking part in the Shenzhen trial, China Daily reported.

The trial requires people to download the government’s digital currency app and spend their money between October 12 and October 16 in 3,000 participating stores in the district, CNBC and China Daily reported. One of those participating stores is Walmart, CNBC reported, citing the Shenzhen government.



a statue in front of a building: A pedestrian walks past the headquarters of the People's Bank of China in Beijing on February 3, 2020. The PBoC is in charge of issuing the digital currency. Reuters


© Reuters
A pedestrian walks past the headquarters of the People’s Bank of China in Beijing on February 3, 2020. The PBoC is in charge of issuing the digital currency. Reuters

So far, around 113,300 such digital currency apps — or “digital currency wallets” — have been set up in various pilot programs across China, with more than 1.1 billion yuan ($163 million) of transactions carried out so far, Fan Yifei, the PBoC’s deputy governor, told China Daily.

The Shenzhen pilot scheme appears to be the country’s largest so far, according to CNBC. Shenzhen is China’s tech hub, and home to companies like Tencent and Huawei.

According to The Guardian, some 2 million people in Luhou had applied to be part of the trial before 50,000 were selected.

The PBoC said it will formally launch the digital currency late this year, the BBC reported, but is yet to confirm a date.

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Liverpool City Region to go into lockdown after talks with government

(Reuters) – Liverpool City Region will go into the strictest “third tier” of new anti-coronavirus restrictions to be announced imminently by Britain, its leaders said late on Sunday after talks with the British government.

The government has decided that further measures and closures will apply to Liverpool City Region, its leaders, including Mayor Steve Rotheram, said in a joint statement.

“Pubs and bars; betting shops, casinos and adult gaming centres and gyms will close,” the statement added.

The leaders said the furlough scheme announced recently by Finance Minister Rishi Sunak was inadequate.

“Businesses in the region especially those in the hospitality sector and those serving it will be damaged and many will suffer long term damage or close for good”, they said.

The statement added that the leaders have agreed with the government to remain in dialogue to establish a “mutually agreeable” financial support package to mitigate the impact of new “Tier 3” restrictions.

“We also require clear definition of the exit strategy from Tier 3”, the statement said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out new measures to try to contain a growing coronavirus crisis on Monday, outlining three new alert levels to better coordinate the government’s under-fire response.

Northern England has been particularly hard hit by a new surge in coronavirus cases that has forced local lockdowns.

In their statement, Liverpool City Region leaders acknowledged the government’s offer on new local arrangements and funding support for a coronavirus test-and-trace system.

The Sunday Times newspaper had reported earlier that mayors in the UK will be given more control over the test-and-trace system as the national government attempts to secure their backing for tough new lockdown rules.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Michael Perry)

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Liverpool leaders say city to go into lockdown after talks with government

FILE PHOTO: People stand in a queue to get tested for COVID-19 at a walk-through centre amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Liverpool Britain, October 6, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

(Reuters) – The city of Liverpool will go into the strictest “third tier” of new anti-coronavirus restrictions to be announced imminently by Britain, its leaders said late on Sunday after talks with the British government.

The government has decided that further measures and closures will apply to Liverpool, the city’s leaders, including Mayor Steve Rotheram, said in a joint statement.

“Pubs and bars; betting shops, casinos and adult gaming centres and gyms will close,” the statement added bit.ly/3iRyMrG.

Liverpool’s leaders said the furlough scheme announced recently by Finance Minister Rishi Sunak was inadequate.

“Businesses in the region especially those in the hospitality sector and those serving it will be damaged and many will suffer long term damage or close for good”, they said.

The statement added that the city’s leaders have agreed with the government to remain in dialogue to establish a “mutually agreeable” financial support package to mitigate the impact of new “Tier 3” restrictions.

“We also require clear definition of the exit strategy from Tier 3”, the statement said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out new measures to try to contain a growing coronavirus crisis on Monday, outlining three new alert levels to better coordinate the government’s under-fire response.

Northern England has been particularly hard hit by a new surge in coronavirus cases that has forced local lockdowns.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Michael Perry

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LaPorte County Historical Society Museum locks up Michigan City jail door | Entertainment



LaPorte County Historical Society Museum locks up Michigan City jail door

LaPorte County Commissioner Richard Mrozinski, Museum Director Keri Teller Jakubowski and LaPorte County Historical Society Board President Bruce Johnson pose with the historic Michigan City jail door that was acquired by the LaPorte County Historical Society Museum.




The LaPorte County Historical Society Museum locked up its latest acquisition: the historic jail door from the Michigan City Superior Courthouse.

The museum, at 2405 Indiana Ave., LaPorte, obtained the door to the jail cell from the 111-year-old courthouse at 300 Washington St. where prisoners were held during their daily trial proceedings. It’s actually two doors: a barred door and a steel door with a peep hole that allowed sound and light to enter the holding cell.

“LaPorte County Commissioner Richard Mrozinski was instrumental in acquiring the door on behalf of the Museum,” the LaPorte County Historical Society said in a press release.

“The jail door was in an area of the courthouse that is currently undergoing renovation. The physical transfer of the door was accomplished by Marquiss Electric, Inc. of Michigan City.”

The museum also has a jail door from the third LaPorte County Jail, which was built in 1857 next to the defunct Shafer’s Laundry that was torn down to make room for the LaPorte County Complex. Both doors are similar in design and date back to the same period between the late 1800s and the early 1990s.

“Both are intriguing complements to the police and fire department exhibits,” the LaPorte County Historical Society said in a press release.

The museum is now open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and requires visitors to wear masks during the pandemic.

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Madrid court annuls central government’s COVID-19 curbs on city

By Emma Pinedo and Inti Landauro

MADRID (Reuters) – A Madrid court on Thursday struck down a government order imposing a partial coronavirus lockdown on the Spanish capital, ruling in favour of the Madrid region in a standoff with national authorities just before a long holiday weekend.

Under the Health Ministry’s order, Madrid regional authorities on Friday barred residents from leaving the area, including nine satellite towns, without a valid reason, and imposed other measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in one of Europe’s worst virus hotspots.

Regional government chief Isabel Diaz Ayuso had opposed the order, saying it would ravage the region’s economy, also arguing the ministry had no power to impose such curbs on a region.

The Madrid regional court sided with her in its ruling, calling the restrictions “interference by public authorities in citizens’ fundamental rights without the legal mandate to support it”.

The restrictions imposed in Madrid, with its usually bustling restaurants and bars, had not yet been fully enforced as no fines could be levied on people violating the restrictions until the court had issued its decision. The government can appeal.

Welcoming the court’s decision, Ayuso nevertheless urged Madrilenos to stay home over the upcoming Hispanic Day weekend that usually sparks mass holiday travel across Spain.

She promised to release a set of “sensible, fair and balanced” rules on Friday, meaning capital residents may still face more restrictions in a country where the government forecasts GDP will fall 11.2% in 2020.

“Madrid’s businesses can’t carry on like this … Nobody understands the rules, nobody knows what is going on,” she said during a televised address.

Under the law, the Spanish government can limit fundamental rights by imposing a state of emergency, as it did nationwide for three months starting in March, but it is up to the regions, which control health policy, to request such measures on a more local scale outside of an emergency.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who described the situation in Madrid as “concerning”, told reporters in Algeria his government would study the court ruling and decide how to proceed after a meeting with the Madrid authorities.

The region had 741 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the two weeks to Oct. 7, according to the World Health Organization, making it Europe’s second densest COVID-19 cluster after Andorra.

Spain reported 12,423 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the national tally up to 848,324 – the highest in Western Europe. Deaths rose by 126 to 32,688.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Emma Pinedo; Additional reporting by Nathan Allen; Editing by Andrei Khalip, Alison Williams and Alex Richardson)

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Madrid court annuls central government’s COVID curbs on city

MADRID (Reuters) – A Madrid court on Thursday struck down a government order imposing a partial lockdown on the city and nine satellite towns, ruling in favour of the Madrid region in a standoff with national authorities.

Under the health ministry’s order, Madrid regional authorities on Friday barred residents from leaving the area without a valid reason, and imposed other restrictive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 contagion in one of Europe’s worst virus hotspots.

But regional government chief Isabel Diaz Ayuso had opposed the order, saying it would ravage the region’s economy, also arguing the ministry had no power to impose such curbs on a region.

The Madrid regional court sided with her in its ruling, calling the restrictions “interference by public authorities in citizens’ fundamental rights without the legal mandate to support it.”

In an initial reaction from the government – which can appeal the ruling – Health Minister Salvador Illa said he had not yet had time to study it.

“We will take the legal decisions that best protect health. We are sure that the Community of Madrid will agree with this approach. We do not care much about anything but citizens’ health,” he told a parliamentary committee without specifying further.

The restrictions imposed in Madrid had not yet been fully enforced as no fines could be levied on people violating the restrictions until the court had issued its decision.

The Madrid region had 741 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the two weeks to Oct. 7, according to the World Health Organization, making it Europe’s second densest COVID-19 cluster after Andorra.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Emma Pinedo, editing by Andrei Khalip and John Stonestreet)

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Baltimore City Council approves worker recall bill over law department, hotel industry objections

The Baltimore City Council on Monday passed legislation aimed at protecting hospitality workers’ jobs, despite objections from the city’s law department and the hotel industry.

The bill would require hospitality businesses to hire laid-off workers once they reopen. Thousands of housekeepers, banquet servers and other employees have lost their jobs as the industry suffers from the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdowns.

The council also passed a second, less-contested bill that would ensure a hotel retains its staff if the business’ ownership changes hands.

The bills now head to the mayor’s desk for his consideration. Democratic Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young has not indicated whether he plans to sign them, but issued a statement via a spokesman saying he will review the legislation.

Hotel workers have rallied around the bills, saying they’re looking for some certainty that they will eventually get to go back to work.

More than 1,500 hospitality workers had lost their jobs as of mid-September at hotels, the Baltimore Convention Center, Royal Farms Arena and other event centers, according to UNITE HERE Local 7, the union that represents them.

Other cities, including Los Angeles, have taken similar steps to protect workers.

But the Young administration’s law department said the return-to-work bill was not the right way to help workers. It said legislation mandating an employer rehire a laid-off person is “an unconstitutional impairment of the employer/employee freedom of contract.”

That legal interpretation was dismissed by other attorneys who testified before the City Council, including those with the Public Justice Center.

The Maryland Hotel Lodging Association also opposed the legislation. Representatives said the bills would strip them of flexibility to recover from the economic crisis, as it would require them to hire employees back based on seniority. That may not align with their immediate needs, they said.

Workers with years of experience in the industry testified to the council in favor of the bill. William Murray, a longtime banquet server at Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, told the council he’s been laid off since March.

“The COVID-19 crisis has hit our industry hard,” he said. “We have stood by our employer and made them successful for years. We deserve the right to have some certainty that we will be able to return to our jobs.”

Also at Monday’s meeting, Democratic City Council President Brandon Scott introduced a bill to establish a program to provide some tenants with legal counsel during eviction proceedings.

Housing activists are bracing for a wave of evictions as COVID-19 continues to wreak economic turmoil. They’ve long pushed for the city to provide tenants with free lawyers when they face being kicked out of their homes.

A recent study, funded by the Abell Foundation, estimates it would cost $5.7 million to provide about 7,000 tenants with representation. By keeping people out of homelessness, the study said it would save more than six times that. It also found that 96% of landlords had representation to argue their cases in rent court, while only 1% of tenants had

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Proposed law in Jersey City would change how affordable housing is built

Proposed legislation could change how affordable housing is built in Jersey City for years to come.

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The City Council will introduce an ordinance Wednesday requiring developers of residential projects that have received a use variance or have been permitted to build with increased density or height to set aside 20% of their total units for affordable housing.

Residential developments with 15 or fewer units and projects undertaken by the Jersey City Housing Authority would be exempt from the affordable housing requirement, under the ordinance. Also, projects impacted by rezoning because of a redevelopment master plan update or amendment will also be exempt.

Mayor Steve Fulop said the ordinance will take construction in the city to the next level by forcing developers to include more affordable housing in their projects.

“While our administration has prioritized affordable housing growth for Jersey City, it takes time to construct the new housing, and in many ways, we are trying to make up for the lack of a policy focus for decades before our administration,” Fulop said in a statement.

City Council President Joyce Watterman, who is sponsoring the ordinance with the Fulop administration, said the legislation simply means more affordable housing for city residents.

“Everyone, regardless of income or age, deserves an affordable and safe place to live, and this ordinance looks to protect our most vulnerable populations by requiring developers to incorporate affordable housing going forward,” Watterman said in a statement.

“Whatever affordable housing we can increase on is a plus for the whole city. There is a lot of people who need a place to live,” she added.

More than a third of Jersey City households are defined as “cost-burdened,” meaning they use more than 30% of their income to pay for housing, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Households with a combined annual income of no more than 80 percent of the city’s median income are eligible for affordable units. In Jersey City, the median income is $65,923. A household making less than $52,738 qualifies for affordable housing.

Some projects may forgo a portion of the on-site affordable housing requirement if they build affordable units off site, buy out their affordable housing obligation, and include community contributions like a school or recreational center.

The buyout provision would allow developers to pay the city between $25,000 and $100,000 per unit — money that would then go into Jersey City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Those payments would increase by 2% each year.

However, all projects impacted by the proposed legislation would be required to make 5% of their on-site units affordable regardless of how many affordable units are built off-site, whether they use the buyout provision, or include community contributions.

But Councilman At Large Rolando Lavarro, who co-chaired an inclusionary zoning committee with Watterman, said he wants his council colleagues to reject the proposal and resume discussions on the buyout provision. He said the plan is a “developer’s dream.”

“It does nothing to address the affordable housing crises

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Hoboken Grace hosts 10th annual 1Day in Hoboken; Collegiate honor society inducts Union City resident | Journal Entries

Hoboken Grace hosts 10th annual 1Day in Hoboken

Hundreds of volunteers recently performed extensive work throughout Hoboken to help better the city as part of 1Day Hoboken, a day of volunteering hosted by Hoboken Grace Community Church. Extra safety precautions were taken as volunteers met virtually and at various outdoor launch spots throughout the city and then spread out throughout Hoboken working on projects for various organizations serving the city.

More than 370 participants completed 37 different projects throughout Hoboken. Working with the city, church spokesmen said projects included painting 1000′s of railings, refurbishing benches, gardening and planting 1000′s of flowers and bulbs and picking up litter in the city’s various parks, beaches and fields. Some of the locations included, Church Square Park, Steven’s Park, Sinatra Park, Elysian Park, Mama Johnson Field, Jefferson Park, Maxell and Sinatra Beaches and the Weehawken Cove. Participants painted and gardened at the Boys & Girls Club and the Hoboken Housing Authority, as well as, cleaned and organized at The Hoboken Shelter and Lunchtime Ministry.

There also were three virtual projects that included participants making and packaging hundreds of lunches for The Hoboken Shelter and St. Matthew Trinity Lunchtime Ministry for families struggling with hunger in Hudson County, as well as, working with The Open Door to assist their ESL students in a practice conversation.

After the completion of the projects, the volunteers came had lunch to celebrate the accomplishments. To learn more about Hoboken Grace, visit hobokengrace.com.

Collegiate honor society inducts Union City resident

Giovanni Rodriguez of Union City has accepted lifetime membership in the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), the nation’s leading certified honor society for high-achieving first- and second-year college students with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA.

NSCS is an honors organization that invites less than 10 percent of all eligible students nationwide to join the ranks of its membership each year. It is made up of scholars from two-year, four-year, and online institutions.

HCCC classes to explore creativity and improve life skills

The Hudson County Community College (HCCC) Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development is offering “LIVE Virtual Experiences” classes in October for anyone who wants to develop new talents and grow personally and professionally.

Individuals may register for these classes – as well as those that are constantly being added – at www.tinyurl.com/HCCCVirtualExperiences. Additional information on classes as well as opportunities for individuals to host their own HCCC “Virtual Experiences” may be obtained by contacting Continuing Education and Workforce Development Assistant Events Coordinator, QuaFayshia Ransom at [email protected]

HCCC professor earns regional award

Hudson County Community College (HCCC) Program Coordinator and Professor of Fine Arts, Laurie Riccadonna, has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Northeast Regional Faculty Member Award.

The award, which will be presented virtually on Oct. 7, recognizes those faculty who demonstrate excellence in teaching, and outstanding contributions to one’s community. Regional-level awardees are the sole contenders for the ACCT 2020 national-level William H. Meardy Faculty Member Award

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