Happy New Year! I hope that 2022 will be a good year and a healthy one for all.
With the New Year comes a new legislative session in Albany, and the State Senate has hit the ground running. The first order of business, as it has been for the previous four years, is to pay homage to the voters of New York State and to pass legislation to ensure your votes are respected and protected. Work on voter reform will never be finished; there is always more we can do to encourage and make it easier for people to vote. Please see the bottom of this message for a listing of newly passed voting reforms.
Testing and Test Sites
We all wish that COVID was behind us. Unfortunately, that is still not the case. The good news is that 96% of Westchester residents over 18 years of age have had at least one vaccination, and vaccine sites throughout the district are open and readily available. The bad news is that getting tested or finding at-home tests to buy is a chore. To help you, my office has put together a comprehensive list of testing sites in the district and surrounding areas. But please be aware that this information is current as of now. Things change rapidly, and we will update the list as we receive additional information. You might want to call providers first to make sure they are still doing testing (phone numbers are on the listing).
Additionally, each household is now eligible to receive one set of four free at-home tests. Please visit this website to place your order. For more information on at-home COVID tests, please see this guide from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
I continue to push for more testing sites and for more at-home kits to be available for our residents. I received a limited supply from the governor’s office, which I distributed to several non-profits where the need is great. I expect to receive more.
Help for Renters and Homeowners
I will continue to fight for programs that will help our struggling renters and owners who have had difficulty making payments due to the pandemic. For renters, we have just reopened the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which closed at the end of last year. I am well aware that there are still tenants who lost income due to COVID-19 and are still in arrears. While the program’s initial federal allotment has been depleted, I’m hopeful we will get more federal funding. In the meantime, applying for the program will help protect eligible tenants from eviction and get them in line for funding if more arrives. Please click here to apply.
To help eligible homeowners avoid default or delinquency on their mortgages, property taxes or condo/co-op maintenance fees, the NYS Homeowner Assistance Fund is now taking applications. There is $539 million in the fund, and applications are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. We expect a high demand for this program, so I urge anyone who might benefit to click here now for more information and to apply if eligible. Applications end on February 1.
Pre-K Funding for District Schools
I am pleased to announce that six schools in my district will be receiving Universal Pre-Kindergarten funding, thanks to the $105 million I championed in the state budget last year. It is the largest investment in pre-school education ever made in New York. The Yonkers School District was awarded $900,000 in a competitive grant to expand their Universal Pre-K program. And, for the first time, Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Edgemont, Elmsford and Hastings-on Hudson school districts were awarded state Pre-K funding. My commitment is to have statewide Pre-K for every four-year-old in the state.
Local Arts Groups Get Funding
Because of our historic investment in funding for the arts, the New York State Council on the Arts has awarded over $2.3 million to 20 organizations and artists throughout my district to keep their programs going. It includes a $1 million grant to ArtsWestchester which they re-grant to local arts organizations throughout the county. I led this initiative in the Senate and was supported by the entire Westchester Delegation. Please click here for a list of the recipients in my district.
As always, please don’t hesitate to email me at email@example.com or call my office at 914-423-4031 for any comments or issues we can help you with. I look forward to hearing from you.
Until next time,
New York State Senate, District 35
President Pro Tem, Majority Leader