Helping Homeless People in N.Y.C. Get Stimulus Payments
Many homeless people in the city did not receive their stimulus checks, but it’s not too late.,
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The federal stimulus checks were intended to be a near-universal benefit, payments totaling $3,200 that would help most Americans begin to rebound from the financial hardship of the pandemic.
But many homeless people in New York City may have missed out because they have not filed a tax return — which can be a daunting task if someone lacks identification or a mailing address.
I asked Andy Newman, The Times’s social services reporter, about his recent story highlighting these challenges. Here are some of his lightly edited answers:
How’d you find this story?
After I got my first stimulus payment I started thinking of a homeless mother I met during the Black Lives Matter protests and wondering whether she had gotten her stimulus money.
After the third stimulus landed magically in my bank account, without me having to lift a finger, I thought there might be a lot of people out there who could not get the money so easily. I do not need the stimulus money to survive and yet I am receiving it, while others who need the money to get on their feet might not know they can get it.
That seemed so crazy I wanted to do a story.
What problems have homeless people faced with getting their payments?
You name it. Some people did not know they were eligible or thought they were ineligible because they did not have a phone or ID. Others said that they could not find a place offering free help filing their taxes.
Picture any bureaucratic hassle you run into in the course of daily life, and multiply the difficulty and inconvenience.
How can homeless people get their payments?
First, they need to file a 2020 tax return. If they have ID and a mailing address, there are places that offer free tax prep help, including a (very) few that you can visit in person, listed here and here.
If they need more basic help, like getting ID, there are nonprofits that offer assistance at outreach pop-ups.
The Coalition for the Homeless’s nightly pop-up is at East 51 Street and Park Avenue.
Readers who want to help financially should donate to these organizations, Beth Hofmeister of the Legal Aid Society told me.
From The Times
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The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.
What we’re reading
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said lawmakers were on the verge of making online sports betting legal in New York. [New York Post]
A Coalition for the Homeless survey of some 200 unsheltered homeless people in the city details why some choose the street over a shelter. [The City]
The Police Department’s Asian Hate Crime Task Force is investigating a partially blind man being punched to the ground in the Bronx. [Daily News]
And finally: Amusement returns to Coney Island this Friday
Coney Island’s amusement parks will reopen this Friday after being closed for a season because of the pandemic.
As per state rules, the parks will allow 33 percent of their usual occupancy, riders will space out to allow for social distancing and employees will clean rides and other high-touch areas often. All amusement seekers older than 2 will have to wear a mask.
Stricter measures, like banning screaming on rides, as some Japanese theme parks did in 2020, do not seem to be on the table.
“Face coverings are required, but screaming for joy is encouraged,” Ken Hochman, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park’s marketing director, told me yesterday.
Five hundred frontline workers will receive free admission to Luna Park on opening day, and 100 local hospital workers will get the first ride on the Cyclone. The first 100 frontline workers to arrive at the Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park will get a free ride on the 150-foot-tall Wonder Wheel, which celebrates its 100th full season this year.
“Coney Island’s rides are synonymous with summer in Brooklyn,” Eric Adams, Brooklyn’s borough president and a candidate for mayor, wrote in a statement. “Their closure last year was painful for all of us. We’re thrilled to see the amusement district come back better than ever to revitalize our local economy and allow friends and families to enjoy.”
It’s Tuesday — ride on.
Metropolitan Diary: Underhill Avenue
On Underhill Avenue in my Brooklyn neighborhood, there is a mural depicting Underdog, the canine superhero of my childhood, on the side of a building.
One day, as my partner and I walked past it with our own dog in tow, a man walking behind us began to sing the “Underdog” theme.
Without discussing it, my partner and I joined in for the chorus:
“Speed of lighting, roar of thunder, fighting all who rob or plunder. Underdog. Underdog!”
Our very own superhero adventure on the way to the park.
— Jon Reiss