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SLU Instructor Jacob Carlson Advocates for Rent Moratorium in NYTimes

Economic pressures of coronavirus bearing down increasingly on people living in the United States. Unemployment has skyrocketed. And rents are due. In a NYTimes opinion column today, SLU Urban Studies instructor H. Jacob Carlson, along with NYU’s Gianpaolo Baiocchi, argued that the moment demands nothing short of a rent moratorium:

We need Congress to enact an immediate, 90-day national rent moratorium — a temporary suspension of rent payments that will keep families in their homes before other dominoes start to fall.

This would be a bailout for people — for the countless families already facing difficulties making their next rent payment and who soon will face the real prospect of eviction. If we do not act now, people will lose their access to housing. The social impact of evictions on individuals, families and communities will be brutal.

They observe that 47 percent of renters spend more than a third of their income on rent, and that, “57 percent of renters could not afford an unexpected expense of $400 with the money they have on hand.” Given the precarious situation renters were in before the crisis, the current situation is utterly untenable. And the measures in place aren’t enough.

The eviction moratorium in states like New York is a crucial start but only delays the inevitable. After June 20, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 90-day stay will have lifted, renters will face unpayable debt of months of back-rent and fees, as well as damaged credit. Housing courts will swell with the backlog, and many people will be evicted. Similarly, while freezing rents going up for lease renewal is useful, it will not be enough for families unable to pay current rent prices.

Read the full column here.

Student Continuity & Distance Learning Updates

During this very difficult period, SLU is guided by two principles: First and foremost, we are dedicated to the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. We are doing everything we can to mitigate the impact of the current public health crisis on our School community. Second, we are committed to maintaining the continuity of our academic programs, courses, and services. To meet these objectives, we have transitioned to distance learning and remote work effective Thursday, March 19th.

We thank you for your patience as we continue to develop and improve the systems that will allow our students to complete the semester—and our faculty and staff to carry on their work—remotely. The important point is that we all share a common goal and we are all working together. In that way, we will weather the storm!

COMMUNICATIONS

Although there is no faculty or administrative staff working at our 43rd Street campus, we will all be working remotely and available via e-mail, phone, and various advanced technologies. You can reach a live SLU operator who will assist you or direct your call during regular business hours by calling (646) 313-8300.

DISTANCE LEARNING

In moving to online instruction, we have focused on technologies that are the most effective and the most equitable. SLU’s faculty and staff have been working tirelessly to ensure that the educational objectives of courses and goals of programs can be met through various methods of delivery. Until further notice, courses will be conducted using remote tools including telephone conferencing, email, Blackboard, ZOOM, and a range of other technologies designed for remote learning. Faculty have reached out to all their students to inform them about the mode of distance learning that will be utilized. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your course(s), please reach out to your instructor or call the SLU main desk at (646) 313-8300.

FOR MORE UPDATES AND RESOURCES FROM CUNY, PLEASE VISIT HERE.

Photo by Aaron Yoo via flickr (cc-by-nd)

Executive Director/Lead Organizer, Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs (Hartford, Connecticut)

The Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs seeks a dynamic and passionate Executive Director and Lead Organizer who will take this innovative nonprofit to its next level. The new leader will replace the founding Executive Director, who has successfully led the organization since 2012.

See description here.

SLU Writing Center Offers Digital Support Session (4/9)

During this unprecedented time, finding the energy, time and focus to write can be a challenge. With this in mind, we’re inviting current SLU students to a group Zoom session next Thursday, April 9th. The session will be held twice, at 12pm and 5pm. Participants will have a chance to talk about their challenges and receive support and tips for moving forward from their peers and a writing consultant. No need to sign up. Simply email writingcenter@slu.cuny.edu for the Zoom link, and join the session at the scheduled time.

Get Counted in the 2020 Census!

A fair and accurate 2020 census count is incredibly important to New York City and the CUNY community.

The census determines how much federal funding the state and city will receive for services that CUNY students and others depend on such as:

In addition, the census is a cornerstone of U.S. democracy. The members of the U.S. House of Representatives are distributed according to population, which is measured by the census.

The responses to the 2020 census are safe, secure, and protected by federal law. Responses can only be used to produce statistics. They cannot be used against individual people by any government agency or court in any way.

FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE CENSUS

See CUNY’s university wide census initiative here.

Read the latest updates about the 2020 Census, and CUNY’s involvement to make sure every New Yorker counts, here.

Prof. Stephanie Luce in Labor Notes: “It Didn’t Have to Be Like This”

Here we are: the economy has been shut down, resulting in massive job loss to some and unsafe working conditions for others. This, writes SLU professor Stephanie Luce in Labor Notes, was the result of a horrible decision — lock ourselves down, or put tens of millions of people at risk.

But, she writes, “It didn’t have to be like this.”

We could not have prevented the virus itself, nor the resulting loss of life altogether. But imagine if:

    • Instead of cutting public health budgets and access to health care for decades, we had expanded it by enacting a single-payer health care system—an improved Medicare for All.
    • We had community health centers that did low-cost preventive care, giving people the education and resources to stay healthy to begin with and making a much smaller share of the population at risk for dangerous disease.
    • We had paid sick days for all workers so they didn’t have to come to work when they had symptoms.
    • We had strong unions, high minimum wages, and good benefits, so very few people were poor. Workers would not feel so desperate to work even when sick or in danger, and they could afford basic necessities to keep them healthier year-round.
    • We had a public health philosophy of “an injury to one is an injury to all.” Governments would be ready to step in with testing programs, resources for people in quarantine, and fair access for all to treatment and vaccines.
    • We taxed the rich and corporations and used that money for the public good and building a strong economy. Our economy would be better equipped to sustain shocks.
    • We valued science and scientists, and invested in their research on issues for the public good.
    • We valued international connections and relationships, encouraging cooperation and collaboration on research, education, and treatment across borders, rather than demonizing or punishing entire nations.

Prof. Luce goes on to describe the ways in which, by moving away from the logic of privatization and crony capitalism, we can imagine a different pathway forward. And she starts with history:

Countries have often been forced to implement bold policies during a crisis, whether the Great Depression of the 1930s, wartime, or coming out of war. It was after World War II that many other countries established their national health care systems and their generous safety net programs, on the understanding that any society is only as strong as its weakest member and that collective programs are good for the economy.

The federal government has the ability to take on public debt to pay for big programs. This happened in 2008 when the government came up with $891 billion to bail out the financial system, with almost no strings attached. This is basically an investment in the future: borrowing money from the future to pay for necessary steps now. The economist JW Mason makes a strong case for funding the Green New Deal this way.

According to Luce, there’s yet more we could do via taxes and reduced military spending, all in service of “an economy centered on human need rather than corporate profit.”

Read the full piece at Labor Notes.