Over 150 New York City CEOs and business leaders sent Mayor Bill de Blasio a letter pleading with him to deal with “quality-of-life” and “public safety” issues they claim are preventing the city’s return to normalcy — the letter comes as the city begins to ease restrictions put in place at the height of the coronavirus.
The letter, signed by executives from companies like Goldman Sachs, Macy’s and JetBlue, claimed there was “widespread anxiety over public safety, cleanliness and other quality of life issues that are contributing to deteriorating conditions in commercial districts and neighborhoods across the five boroughs.”
The business leaders praised the city’s efforts in containing the virus, but stressed that many New Yorkers have left the city and may be hesitant to return for safety reasons, adding that among those who stayed, “an unprecedented number of New Yorkers are unemployed, facing homelessness, or otherwise at risk.”
Before the pandemic there were roughly 15,000 homeless single adults living in the city’s shelter system, now there are nearly 18,000, according to the New York Times.
The city’s unemployment rate has hovered around 20% over the summer, up 16% from the same time last year, according to the New York State Dept. of Labor.
There has seen a spike in some types of violent crime since the pandemic began, though police data shows arrests are down and 911 response times are up.
The city is also seeing a mass exodus, with over 15,000 apartments available to rent Manhattan alone, a vacancy rate of 5%, with renters looking for more space for their dollar.
De Blasio responded to the letter by urging the business leaders to help secure state and federal funding which he says will help ease the city’s virus-induced financial crisis.
While the letter focuses on a city seemingly about to fall apart, there are signs that the city is returning to normal: indoor dining is slated to resume at 25% capacity starting at the end of the month, and schools begin in-person classes next week.
New York City was among the cities hardest hit by the coronavirus in the US. On March 22, Gov. Andrew Cuomo closed all non-essential businesses and declared the city “on pause,” leaving nearly 900,000 New Yorkers jobless. Recovery was slow, with the full lockdown lasting 78 days, but the measures were mostly effective. The infection rate in New York City has been below 1% for over a month, thanks to strict emergency regulations.
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