NYC Group Calls for Significant Community Investments
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Community leaders in Harlem are calling on local and state elected officials to make significant community investments.
As part of their 2023 Justice Agenda, grassroots group Citizen Action New York wants a series of steps enacted - not only to protect New York City residents, but New Yorkers all over the state.
These include housing and tenant protections, protecting people's freedom to vote and healthcare equity through universal care.
Vanessa Rosser - vice chair of the New York City Regional Chapter of Citizen Action of New York - said despite having numerous options for getting health care, people struggle with the process to qualify for certain plans, like Medicaid or Medicare.
"Those entities exist, but sometimes the process to go through or to facilitate those pathways are not always available," said Rosser, "especially if you don't know who to go to, to get the coverage that you need, or to get the access to those entities."
She added that healthcare inequities that existed prior to the pandemic are part of why these community investments are so necessary.
Concerns have risen across the U.S. as Medicaid's "continuous coverage" program comes to an end. A report from the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation finds 8.2 million people will lose Medicaid eligibility.
Rosser said Harlem residents want to ensure their voices are heard by city and state officials. She noted that it's only one part of New York City facing the challenges that come with gentrification - including rents becoming unaffordable for long-time residents.
While there's a melange of ways to alleviate this, she said she feels rethinking outdated policies is a start.
"Raising the poverty level would probably help some people to some degree," said Rosser, "because we know the poverty level hasn't been looked at or touched since probably the 1930s."
She added that there are some people making $50,000 to $60,000 a year who still can't pay their rent.
The Federal Poverty Level for a one person household is a little over $14,000, which has increased only slightly from when it was first created.
And yet, the average rent for a studio apartment in Harlem is almost $2,500 a month - which over the course of a year, is almost $30,000.
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