“Given the delayed and largely inadequate response by the Trump administration, it’s becoming clear that much of the responsibility of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis is falling on state and local governments,” said Kithes.
It is important, said Woonsocket City Councilmember Alex Kithes, to “not only to take steps to minimize the spread of the disease and reduce the impact on vulnerable populations, but to help working class folks deal with the ramifications of quarantine and economic recession.”
“I applaud the steps that Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt has taken in leading our city’s response, and I believe we can do more,” said Kithes on Tuesday. “After speaking to other city and state elected officials and many members of our community, I’ve drafted an initial list of proposals, and I am calling on my fellow Woonsocket City Council members and the administration to join me and enact them. I plan to draft the legislation in the coming days, and call for a remote council meeting to take these actions and increase protections for our community. I am also calling on other communities in the state to consider similar actions.”
Kithes is proposing the following actions:
- Ease the burden on our tax- and rent-payers, by delaying the April 15th property tax payment date, and waiving payment late fees for any property where an eviction has not occurred or been initiated during the pandemic.
- Make a difficult situation a little less risky for homeowners, by halting the practice of putting properties up for tax sale due to nonpayment of taxes during the pandemic.
- Ensure we continue to provide vital resources to our community, by halting water and sewer disconnection for lack of payment during the pandemic.
- Avoid making a difficult situation worse for one of the most vulnerable populations, those experiencing homelessness, by immediately ceasing all disruption of tent encampments and enforcement of laws that criminalize homelessness.
- Further help to ease the suffering of the homeless by working with community organizations to distribute temporary shelter and explore other ways to help them access housing.
- Avoid filling prisons even further – which are at a high risk of disease spread – by putting a temporary moratorium on arrests for nonviolent, victimless crimes.
- Stand with the health and safety of our employers and employees, by calling on larger places of employment within the city to follow all municipal, state, and federal orders and guidelines concerning public gatherings.
- Protect the health of our city employees, by enabling and requiring those who must continue to work, to practice safe social distancing during work time.
- Prioritize the health of our city, by granting all city employees, including those who are part-time or otherwise without benefits, emergency adequate paid sick leave during the pandemic.
- Protect our seniors and otherwise vulnerable members of our community, by working with the housing authority to further reduce the risks in our high rise communities.
- Protect those for whom a quarantine may be an unsafe situation, by creating a plan for the city to perform wellness checks on homes in which domestic or child abuse is a concern.
- Give our struggling small business community another source of revenue in this difficult time, by expanding the Governor’s allowance of sealed beer and wine sales with takeout purchases, to also include sealed spirits and distilled alcohols within the city.
- Help in the national grassroots effort, by exploring ways for our city to incentivize and mobilize the manufacture of masks for our healthcare workers, and make food available to kids affected by the crisis.
- Begin holding virtual but still publicly-accessible City Council meetings through Zoom Video Conferencing or some other platform.
[FROM A PRESS RELEASE]