The Real Estate Board of New York this week welcomed a federal deal on a new stimulus package, but warned it falls short of what the city needs to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
REBNY president James Whelan called the package a “step forward” but said, “State and local aid is needed to account for the ongoing loss of billions in City and State tax revenue that fuels basic government services.
“More rental assistance is needed to protect residential and commercial tenants and property owners who will still struggle to pay their rent or mortgage over the months to come. More infrastructure and transit funding is needed to help kickstart our economy and create more good jobs for New Yorkers.
On Monday, Congress approved a $900 billion stimulus package that includes enhanced unemployment benefits and direct cash payments of $600 to individuals plus an additional $600 per child for those whose income is less than $75,000 per year. Those making more than $99,000 will not receive anything.
The jobless will receive a $300 weekly federal enhancement in benefits for 11 weeks and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation will be extended to a maximum of 50 weeks.
The stimulus includes a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans to small businesses and creates a $15 billion grant program for live venues, theaters and museum operators.
It includes funding for schools, colleges and childcare providers and extends rental assistance and eviction protection until January 31.
The agreement includes $28 billion for the purchase and distribution of vaccines and gives states $20 billion to assist with testing and money for state highways, struggling transit agencies, Amtrak, airports and buses.
MTA chairman Patrick J. Foye welcomed the $4 billion it will get noting, “This crucial funding will allow us to get through 2021 without devastating service cuts and layoffs of over 9,000 colleagues.”
But he, too, said it wasnʼt enough. “To be clear, we are still facing an $8 billion deficit in the years ahead. We hope any future bills will fully offset the impact of the pandemic as there can be no recovery without a strong public transportation system serving as the engine for progress.
The deal does not contain any direct aid to state and local governments and Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “I can’t even call what the Congress has agreed to as stimulus. It’s not a stimulus. It’s a short-term survival plan.”
While he said the plan would provide “value for everyday New Yorkers,” it would do little to stimulate the economy.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said the new bill would bring $54 billion into New York, but conceded, “Clearly, there is more to be done – we will fight for more relief under President Biden, because this crisis is not over.”
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