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NYC is giving $5,000 checks to artists and support to taxi drivers and homeless

New York City struggles to manage homeless crisis
New York City struggles to manage homeless cr... 09:17

New York City will spend some of the nearly $6 billion it received in COVID-19 recovery funds from the Biden administration to provide financial assistance for artists, taxi drivers and the homeless, as well as to support ongoing vaccination efforts.

The city last week outlined how it will use the aid from the American Rescue Plan Act. Some 1,800 local artists across varied disciplines who have suffered financially during the pandemic will receive $5,000 checks. The so-called New York City Artist Corps grants will be fully distributed by October, according to the recovery plan report. 

The plan also includes $65 million in relief for the Big Apple's struggling taxicab industry, which faces stiff competition from rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber, and is comprised mostly of immigrants and people of color. The aid will help taxi medallion owners pay off debt and get back on the road "so more taxis are available to the riding public," according to the plan.

New York City, which received more emergency coronavirus aid than any other metro area in the U.S., will also spend more than $125 million helping support the city's homeless population. One goal is to help people without housing more easily leave homeless shelters. The city also aims to cut street homelessness in half.

Providing substantial support to the city's hundreds of thousands of small businesses, including hard-hit restaurants, is another key component of the recovery plan. The city will provide more than $172 million in financial assistance to establishments with fewer than 100 employees, which make up 98% of all local businesses. 

"Small businesses are the backbone of New York City's neighborhoods, and it is vital that they thrive to ensure an equitable recovery," the report states. 

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Some small businesses will get grants or loans, while others will become eligible for legal services they need to change or terminate commercial leases. A separate marketing initiative encourages New Yorkers to patronize small establishments instead of big-box retailers. 

Nearly $330 million will go toward Test & Trace, the city's contact tracing initiative, lead by NYC Health + Hospitals. The corps of contact tracers identifies individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and provides them with resources so that they can self-isolate and avoid spreading the virus. 

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