We need pandemic relief that meets the moment. The reality is if we want to put an end to this public health and economic crisis, Congress must send trillions of dollars out the door as soon as humanly possible. People need to work safely, pay the rent, they need to put food on the table. We’ve been hanging on because we know how to hang on, but we deserve better. COVID is only the latest crisis to hit our communities. We’re still working to recover from Superstorm Sandy and are nowhere near ready for rising seas and future storms. We still struggle to afford healthcare or medication and see our loved ones dying from preventable overdose deaths. These crises have deepened and worsened in COVID – and when we say we need COVID relief – we also need relief for the disasters we were already facing.
We’re asking congress to support real COVID relief that includes the following demands:
Paying the Bills and Keeping Food on the Table:
- Direct payments to struggling individuals and families
- $2,000 in recurring cash payments.
- Extend unemployment insurance with an added $400 enhancement
- Support for hungry families by boosting SNAP benefits by 15% and additional funding for programs and organizations working to put food on the tables of hungry families.
Keeping a Roof Over our Heads:
- Include $100 billion to provide emergency assistance so everyone has an affordable and safe place to call home, including renters at risk of homelessness. Add an additional $75 billion to help homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages, property taxes and utilities, and protect renters and homeowners from evictions and foreclosures for the duration of the crisis.
Our National Budget Crisis is also NJ’s Budget Crisis:
- Deliver $1 trillion in state and local government aid to help offset lost tax revenue, which would save hundreds of thousands of jobs and protect the delivery of vital human services.
Superstorm Sandy Recovery:
- Appropriate $50 million for clawback forgiveness for families and $10 million dollars for clawback forgiveness for communities: With the fiscal trouble we face due to the economic impact of COVID-19, Sandy survivors cannot afford one disaster on top of another. While it has been years since Sandy, many families have clawbacks looming over their heads – a debt owed due to a supposed “duplication of benefits,” when Sandy survivors followed all the rules and guidelines. Our disaster recovery systems are outdated and broken, let’s fix the programs not saddle families with debt they cannot afford.
Preparing for Future Storms and Flooding:
- Make Flood Insurance reforms that help families afford their homes and better prepare: FEMA 2.0 must pause until after the pandemic – there are major questions about FEMA’s proposed new rating system and a pandemic and economic crisis are not a time to roll out changes to the flood insurance program that could displace families. Cap flood insurance increases at 9% and make ICC funds available immediately to assist families with mitigation efforts.
- Invest $10 billion to mitigation efforts – we need to get funds out there to allow families and communities to preemptively protect against damage from rising seas and worsening storms by building living shorelines, lifting or moving homes, and addressing constantly flooding roads and infrastructure.
Ending the Overdose Crisis:
- Remove the outdated and ineffective federal X-waiver requirement for healthcare providers to prescribe Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) – including Buprenorphine (Suboxone). This will make it easier for healthcare providers to prescribe this life saving treatment. Eliminating the X-waiver requirement removes burdensome training requirements and patient caps on prescribers, increasing MAT access – especially in more rural parts of the country. MAT is the gold standard in addiction treatment – proven to reduce preventable overdose and increase long-term recovery. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the overdose crisis and made it harder for people struggling with addiction to access the care they need to recover.
Ensuring COVID-19 Vaccine Access & Affordability:
- Ensure affordability and expand access to the COVID-19 vaccine. We know all too well that we can’t trust drug corporations to put our health and wellbeing before their profits. We need Congress to prohibit new pharmaceutical monopolies and price-gouging on tax-payer funded COVID-19 drugs and treatments and to mandate reasonable, affordable pricing of any new, taxpayer-funded COVID-19 drug used to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or treat COVID-19.