City of Syracuse COVID Crisis Update Friday, May 8th
Mayor Walsh and Deputy Mayor Owens led this week’s COVID-19 Community Briefing for residents of the City of Syracuse. Among the topics covered in today’s report: COVID-19 impact on crime; the City’s first marriage license issued online; a new COVID-19 Resource Guide being mailed to city residents; update on usage of the Financial Empowerment Center; advice for people facing unemployment; information regarding unlawful evictions; help for people facing domestic abuse; and a report on the 2020 Census response in Syracuse.
Common Councilor-at-Large Rita Paniagua, a native of Puerto Rico, joined the briefing. She delivered a summary of key points and a special message for the Spanish speaking community.
Volunteer Lawyers Project – Evictions
Sally Curran of the Volunteer lawyers Project spoke about legal issues and their ability to provide assistance. Public Housing Section 8 has a moratorium on evictions until August 24th, the New York State moratorium on evictions has an August 20th deadline. However, Curran was supportive yet cautioned, ““Unlawful evictions are a crime, that’s been true since June of last year. Lawful occupant if you’ve lived there for 30 days no one can evict you without going through due process… Let your landlord know write a letter, keep lines of communications open.” Deputy Mayor Owens added, “Should be working with your Landlord. The moratorium did not give you permission not to pay rent. One; both sides, tenants and landlords have responsibilities at this time.” Sally Curran and members of the legal community are reaching out to help those in a challenging situation with their landlord as she pleaded, “Please reach out to our legal housing advocates, reach out and call 211.”
The “pause” has had an impact on crime as statistics indicate a trend towards reduction in most areas. The major standout has been domestic violence which has increased. According to Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens, “We have seen domestic violence calls increase by 40 percent”. People are encouraged to call Vera House and other agencies as they revealed a plan to distribute a COVID-19 resource Guide to all Syracuse residents by mail.
Meeting Human Needs
The Financial Empowerment Center has experienced an 86% increase in unique users, the service continues to operate online www.syracusefec.org , 315-474-1939 ext.5
This week a new COVID-19 Resource Guide being mailed to city residents which is full of useful information
City residents are encouraged to contact www.dol.ny.gov/pandemic-unemplyment-assistance, CNYWorks.com and info@ CNYWorks.com
The city has been in the process of making changes in response to COVID-19; there is now a secure drop-box for City of Syracuse payments, the city issued its first online Marriage License last week.
The budget has been presented and approved by the Syracuse Common Council. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the city’s budget for the fiscal year as revenues have plummeted due to the “pause” and the reduction of sales tax revenue.
The new budget requires the sale of city assets and a reduction in Police Department overtime. With the largest mall in New York State and car dealerships closed both city and county officials are feeling the pinch and reduction in services is a possibility.
Mayor Ben Walsh has written a letter to both Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell detailing the plight of Syracuse. Emphasizing the fact that local governments do not have financial resources that have been required to fight COVID-19.
Also, of great importance is the 2020 Census. The Census result determines the expenditure of government resources for schools, health, environment, community development, etc. The once every 10 year tally is also how we determine our congressional delegation. If we lose population, we lose funding for important services that the city of Syracuse requires. Therefore, it’s important for everyone to respond to the 2020 US Census. At this point, Syracuse has a 45.5% response rate which is good, but not good enough. Everyone is encouraged to complete their Census either by mail or online.
The weekly briefing is in line with what’s happening across the country, people depending on their local government to deliver up-to-date accurate news and information about the pandemic. In Syracuse and Onondaga County, we’ve been served well by our local leaders and their respective teams.