At this morning’s press conference Mayor Bill de Blasio finally focused on the residents of New York City’s public housing (NYCHA). He announced more deliveries of disposable gloves and hand sanitizer, new coronavirus testing centers that will prioritize NYCHA residents, and 10,000 i-pads that will be distributed to isolated seniors, starting in Brooklyn, and free meal delivery fro NYCHA residents.
“Everyone in New York City has been hit hard by this pandemic – everyone – but the residents of NYCHA have been hit particularly hard and we want to do a lot more to reach you, to help you, to bring you support, not just the testing, but other forms of support to help you through this crisis,” de Blasio remarked. “So, folks in NYCHA have experienced these health care disparities. A lot of folks in NYCHA also have the additional challenge, again, not having had really serious conditions treated sufficiently, whether it’s diabetes or severe asthma or heart disease. So, we’re talking about a lot of people who have those preexisting conditions – they’re vulnerable, especially the many, many seniors who live in NYCHA.”
To the CBS reporter who asked “what would you say to NYCHA residents whose vulnerabilities were well known prior to the pandemic about why they were not prioritized much earlier?” he responded that they focused on providing for the hospitals the NYCHA residents were likely to end up in looking for care when they got sick.
Here’s what’s coming to Brooklyn.
Two more testing sites – one near and one at NYCHA, and NYCHA residents will be a priority for testing. One will be opening on Friday at Health + Hospitals community sites at the Cumberland Health Center in Crown Heights. Another will open next week at NYCHA’s Jonathan Williams houses in Williamsburg.
Supplies – deliveries will start with face coverings and gloves for all NYCHA residents, to be delivered to “literally every building, every resident” next week, Mayor de Blasio announced, adding that the city will also be giving out hand sanitizer, making sure seniors have the hand sanitizer they need.
Hunger – “No New Yorker will go hungry. That is the pledge,” Mayor said. Residents who need food can call 311 or go online to nyc.gov/get food, but at NYCHA’s senior buildings the city will provide meals directly, de Blasio said, promising food deliveries “right to your door.”
Information – to make sure everyone has access to help and information they need, the city will be proactively calling seniors directly, especially those that may not speak English.
“They don’t know where to turn. This is particularly true with folks who are dealing with serious health care conditions; folks who are disabled, seniors, folks who do not speak English as a first language. There’s a lot of folks who are particularly vulnerable and don’t know where they’re going to get the help they need. We want to go right to them,” the Mayor said. “So we’ll be calling through seniors at NYCHA and other vulnerable residents directly. Live calls, folks calling to get them the help they need – if they need food, if they need supplies, whatever it happens to be. Obviously, if they need medical care, connect them right away to a clinician. We’re going to do that as a proactive approach as well.”
I-Pads – The city is spending $5 million to give away free tablets with internet service to 10,000 NYCHA seniors who are particularly isolated so they can stay in touch with their family and loved ones and have more access to the help they need, Mayor de Blasio said, remarking:
“One of the most painful human realities has been grandparents who can’t see their grandchildren or their children. Seniors who used to get visits of one kind another; kept their spirits up and got them help they needed, a lot of them feel particularly isolated right now. We want to make it a little bit easier and one of the ways, of course, is through technology. So, there are so many seniors in public housing who don’t have access to technology. We’re going to do something about that now.”
The I-pad distribution, in partnership with T-Mobile, will start in Brownsville, East New York, Red Hook, Bushwick, Coney Island, and in Mott Haven in the Bronx, and will be complemented with a phone helpline to troubleshoot, Mayor promised.