MELS COVID-19 UPDATE:
New York State Homeowners Assistance Fund – Up to $50,000 Available for Distressed Home, Coop and Condo Owners
Homeowners at risk of foreclosure or displacement due to a financial hardship suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for up to $50,000.00 through the New York State Homeowner Assistance Fund. Applications open as of January 3, 2022.
To qualify you must be:
• Residing in the home, coop or condo; and
• Behind on mortgage payments; or
• Behind on coop maintenance charges or condo HOA fees; or
• Behind on property taxes, water or sewer bills; or
• In default on a reverse mortgage; or
• In forbearance
Homeowner Assistance Funds can be used to:
• Pay off past due mortgage payments; or
• Partially pay down the principal mortgage amount in order to make monthly mortgage payments more affordable; or
• Pay off past due coop maintenance charges or condo HOA fees; or
• Pay off past due property taxes, sewage or water bills; or
• Pay future housing payments for up to six months if the applicant or an adult member of the household is currently unemployed or has exhausted unemployment benefits.
There are income and other eligibility requirements. To apply and get more information, visit: New York State Homeowner Assistance Fund or call 844-77-NYHAF or 844-776-9423.
If you own a home, coop or condo and are in need of legal assistance or help navigating the Homeowner Assistance Program, please call the MELS Screening Unit at 212-815-1111.
COVID-19 VACCINE MANDATE HOTLINE
To answer any outstanding questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine mandate agreement between DC 37 and the City, DC 37 has established a COVID-19 vaccine mandate hotline. Members can call this dedicated phone line to speak to a representative for assistance. The DC 37 vaccine mandate hotline at 212-815-1100 is available Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4 PM. Find the terms of the agreement here.
COVID-19 VACICNE, BOOSTER, and FLU SHOT
Do you need the COVID vaccine, the flu vaccine, or the COVID-19 booster? DC 37 urges members to get immunized. Children age five and up can get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. City workers can use up to four hours of excused leave to travel to get themselves or their child(ren) immunized. The employee should give their supervisor three days’ notice. For more details, please speak to a union representative. Hundreds of sites across the city offer appointments or walk-up vaccines at no cost. Help end the pandemic. Get vaccinated.
DC 37 DENTAL CENTER
The renovated DC 37 Dental Center is a state of the art, 30-chair facility at 115 Chambers Street in Lower Manhattan. They are accepting appointments Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 6 PM and Saturday from 8 AM to 5 PM. To schedule your visit, please call 212-766-4440.
MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PLUS PLAN for NYC RETIREES
The Municipal Labor Committee has voted to move to a Medicare Advantage Plus Plan designed specifically for our NYC retirees. The plan goes into effect April 1, 2022. All retirees in Senior Care will remain in Senior Care until April 1, with no monthly premium payment or deduction. The opt-out date of the NYC Medicare Advantage Plus Plan has been extended to June 30, 2022. For more information, call 833-325-1190.
MSK LUNG HEALTH SCREENING IS EASY
Lung cancer is the #1 cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the United States. It causes more deaths each year than breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers combined. During the early stages, most people have few symptoms, or none at all. With early lung cancer screening, doctors find 80% of lung cancer at an early stage when it is easier to treat.
Learning about the risk factors associated with developing lung cancer, such as smoking history, age, family history, and exposure to toxic substances, can help lower fear and uncertainty commonly associated with this disease. MSK Direct has partnered with DC 37 to provide resources on DC 37’s dedicated MSK Direct webpage. MSK Direct provides DC 37 members and their families dedicated access to exceptional cancer care from leading specialists at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). If you or a family member are impacted by cancer and would like to discuss treatment options, call MSK Direct at 883-786-3365 or visit DC 37’s dedicated webpage.
NYC PUBLIC SCHOOL FAMILIES CAN GET A $50 MONTHLY INTERNET CREDIT, APPLY NOW
New York City public school families can receive a $50 monthly discount on internet broadband service and a one-time $100 credit for a laptop, tablet or desktop computer. Families must apply and find a broadband provider in their area participating in the federal Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. The broadband service provider then offers eligible families a discounted rate and is reimbursed by the federal government. Apply here while funds last.
FOOD BANK for NYC OFFERS FREE TAX PREP
Starting in January, Food Bank for NYC will offer free, contactless tax preparation services for low-income New Yorkers. Get the refunds and credits you may be entitled to, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that can be worth up to $8,852 for some families. Free tax prep is available at: https://www.foodbanknyc.org/taxhelp/. Call 646-981-6111, Monday through Friday, 10 AM to 4 PM, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The IRS will accept 2021 tax returns starting on Jan. 31. The deadline to file is April 18, 2022.
DC 37 EVENTS:
MELS TAX WEBINAR on WED. JAN. 26, at 6 PM
MELS, the union’s Municipal Employees Legal Services, will host a virtual tax webinar for members and retirees on WEDNESDAY, Jan. 26 at 6 PM. Tax experts will discuss what is income and what’s not; filing status, standard and itemized deductions, tax credits, tips and more. To register, visit: https://ringcentr.al/3ydq7t1 or www.dc37mels.com. For more information, please call the MELS Screening Unit at 212.815.1111 or email: MELSscreeningunit@dc37.net.
MELS HOUSING WEBINAR on MON. JAN. 31, at 5:30 PM
MELS, DC 37’s Municipal Employees Legal Services, will host a virtual housing webinar on Monday, Jan. 31 at 5:30 PM. The union’s housing experts will discuss Housing Court and evictions; rental assistance; how to find which regulations protect your apartment; what you can do about harassment and retaliation, and more. DC 37 members and retirees can register here: https://ringcentr.al/3IDPokX or visit www.dc37mels.com. For more information, please call the MELS Screening Unit at 212.815.1111 or email: MELSscreeningunit@dc37.net.
DISCOUNT TICKETS to MANDELA
A DC 37 holiday gift to you! Come celebrate Black History Month at the theater and see Mandela, a play written by Yolanda Brooks and John Ruiz Miranda. Use the exclusive DC 37 code when you buy one ticket and get a second ticket free. That’s two tickets for the price of one! This offer is available to DC 37 members and retirees until Jan. 15. Mandela runs Feb. 7 through 27, at the American Theater of Actors, 314 West 54th St., New York, NY 10019. For tickets, visit: mandelanyc.com. Use code: JUST4U.
CLIMATE JUSTICE COMMITTEE
The DC 37 Climate Justice Committee meets the first and third Tuesday of every month. To join, please email Committee Chair Jon Forster at: email@example.com.
STUDENT LOAN FORBEARANCE EXTENSION UPDATE:
On Wednesday, December 22, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced a further extension of the CARES Act student loan forbearance. Last scheduled to terminate on January 31, 2022, the pause on student loan payments, interest accrual and collections is extended through May 1, 2022. To request to speak with a MELS attorney, please call the MELS Screening Unit at 212-815-1111.
STUDENT LOAN FORBEARANCE:
To take advantage of the temporary waiver (see below), otherwise qualified borrowers with indirect student loans, or borrowers who simply have a history of repayment on non-qualifying plans, must consolidate their indirect loans; select an income driven repayment plan, and submitted the PSLF Employer Certification form by October 31, 2022. Doing so will allow the borrower to receive credit for payments made on any plan.
Whether your loan is in default, you need assistance in qualifying for PSLF, you wish to learn how switching to an income driven repayment plan will affect your cost, or you just want help understanding student loans, MELS can help. To connect with a MELS attorney call the MELS Screening Unit at 212-815-1111. MELS can help!
PUBLIC SERVICE LOAN FORGIVENESS TEMPORARY WAIVER:
On October 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education temporarily waived a number of the requirements borrowers who qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) must meet. The waiver period expires on October 31, 2022. Appropriate steps must be taken prior to that date in order to take advantage of the benefits of the waiver.
WAIVER of the QUALIFYING REPAYMENT PLAN OPTIONS:
Under the traditional rules, to qualify for PSLF a borrower working full-time in a qualified employment was required to make 120 payments toward their direct federal student loan debt pursuant to one of the four income driven repayment plan options: PAYE, RE-PAYE, Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment. The repayment plan requirement is temporarily waived. During the waiver period, payments made on any plan will count toward PSLF.
BORROWERS with FFEL and PERKINS LOANS:
Borrowers with FFEL and Perkins loans now have an improved pathway to PSLF. Under the traditional rules, only direct federal student loans qualified for PSLF. Borrowers with FFEL loans and Perkins loans had to consolidate into a direct consolidated federal loan in order to qualify for PSLF. Payments made prior to consolidation did not count toward PSLF. During the waiver period, borrowers must still consolidate. However, provided a borrower consolidates during the waiver period, payments made prior to consolidation, on any repayment plan, will count toward PSLF.
For information on the appropriate steps to take, affected members and their eligible family members can call MELS at 212.815.1111.
IMPORTANT UPDATE ON EVICTION MORATORIUMS:
NEW YORK STATE EVICTION MORATORIUM
New York State lawmakers agreed on Sept. 1 to extend sweeping protections against evictions. The state’s amended eviction moratorium, extended through, is one of the most extensive protections put into place in the nation. Under the amended law, landlords can challenge a tenant’s declaration of hardship. However, tenants are still encouraged to file New York State hardship declaration forms. MELS can help with issues related to the state hardship declaration form and the other protections available to tenants. Call the MELS Screening Unit at 212.815.1111 for advice and legal representation.
EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (ERAP)
New York State’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance will no longer accept Emergency Rental Assistance Program applications. Tenants who have applied for ERAP are protected from eviction while the application is processed. ERAP can provide up to 15 months of rent and up to 12 months of gas and electric utility arrears. If you have questions or need assistance, call the MELS Screening Unit at 212.815.1111.
HEALTH and COVID:
COVID-19 WORKERS’ COMP and SHORT-TERM DISABILITY BENEFITS
DC 37 urges members who believe they have contracted coronavirus in the line of duty to apply for New York State Workers’ Compensation. For a list of Workers’ Comp lawyers click here: https://bit.ly/3f1wK8z. Additionally, DC 37 Health & Security short-term disability benefits may be available for members who have filed Workers’ Comp claims. For more information click here: http://bit.ly/3ptCdt0
FEMA COVID-19 BURIAL RELIEF
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) burial relief program is accepting applications. The maximum amount of financial aid available is $9,000 per funeral up to $35,500 per application with multiple COVID-19 decedents. FEMA federal funeral assistance can be used to help with expenses for funeral services held in 2020 for COVID-19 deaths, interment or cremation. Call the FEMA hotline: 844.684.6333 (TTY: 800.462.7585), 8 AM to 8 PM Central Time (7 AM to 7 PM EST), Monday through Friday. For additional burial assistance programs, please visit: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hra/help/burial-assistance.page.
PAID FAMILY LEAVE BENEFIT
The New York State Paid Family Leave benefit is 12 weeks. The maximum weekly paid benefit is $971.61 or $1,943 bi-weekly. This union-negotiated benefit is available to nearly all DC 37 members, including members in the six nonprofit and private sector locals. For details about the PFL benefit, please contact your union representative. To access the 2022 PFL benefits calculator, visit: https://paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/PFLbenefitscalculator2022.
GET HELP PAYING for CHILD CARE
The Child Care Facilitated Enrollment Project is a New York State funded pilot program that was developed to assist working parents to increase access to childcare subsidies and quality care in New York City for children up to 13 years of age with qualifying incomes (up to $72,050 for a family of four). For more information, visit: https://www.cwenet.net/nysfe-1.
AFSCME FREE 4-YEAR COLLEGE
AFSCME offers a free 4-year college program to members and their immediate family. You can go to college for free from anywhere in the country. All you need is a computer and an internet connection. For more information, visit: https://freecollege.afscme.org/
DC 37 EDUCATION FUND
NEW LABOR LEADERSHIP PROGRAM at CUNY:
DC 37 and the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies have expanded their educational partnership to include four new college-level programs in labor studies. The DC 37 Education Fund will provide tuition assistance to active DC 37 members who enroll in the labor studies program to earn the undergraduate certificate in labor relations; bachelor’s degree in urban studies; graduate certificate in labor relations, or master’s degree in labor studies. Apply today here: www.dc37edfund.org/cunyslu. For more information, please call: 212-815-1700.
THE EDUCATION FUND IS NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR THE WINTER 2022 CYCLE: Please visit the DC 37 website at www.dc37.net/benefits/education/edfund to sign up for classes beginning in January. Classes fill up quickly so register today!
DC 37 ED FUND PROVIDES FREE SOCIAL WORKER WORKSHOPS FOR LOCAL 768 MEMBERS: The DC 37 Education Fund and the New York City Chapter will host two (2) continuing education workshops online In February for eligible Local 768 licensed Social Workers:
Abusive Traumatic Bonding in Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) (4 CEU’s) on Saturday, Feb. 12, from 10 AM to 2 PM. The registration deadline is Jan. 21.
Immigration, Racism, Pandemic: Policy and Practice Implications (2 CEU’s) on Thursday, Feb. 24, from 7 to 9 PM. The registration deadline is Feb. 1.
LOCAL 372 PARAPROFESSIONALS can earn 18 credits annually towards a degree in Human Services through a partnership with Monroe College. To enroll for the Spring 2022 term, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
LOCAL 372 MEMBERS WORKING in SCHOOL FOOD can earn an Associate Degree in Nutrition and Culinary Management through a partnership with LaGuardia Community College. To enroll for the Spring 2022 term, email: email@example.com.
CUNY COUNSELING IS HERE FOR YOU! This is the ideal time to plan for Spring 2022 enrollment at the CUNY college of your choice. Let Worker Education at the CUNY School of Labor & Urban Studies (SLU) help guide you through the process of finding the best CUNY program to match your education and career goals. Expert advisors offer FREE one-on-one phone sessions on: academic requirements for specific jobs; choosing a CUNY campus and major; applying to and financing a CUNY degree; certificate and non-credit options at CUNY, transferring previous credits, and more. Each session is free and catered to your specific goals and needs. To view the calendar and schedule your CUNY advisement session visit: https://cunydays.eventbrite.com. Can’t find a date/time that works for you? Email: WorkerEd@slu.cuny.edu.
EDUCATION AND CAREER COUNSELING: Do you need guidance selecting a class from our offerings, updating a resume or need assistance reaching a career or educational goal? Contact a counselor to schedule a virtual appointment: https://www.dc37.net/benefits/education/offerings/counseling.
TEST PREP WORKSHOPS: DC 37 members can get help to prepare them for upcoming civil service exams through online Ed Fund workshops. Members can select from one or more subject areas: Reading, English Language Arts and Math. Each workshop is six sessions long. These classes will provide essential knowledge of the test subject(s) and test-taking strategies. Although the workshops do not address a specific exam, the essential learning is beneficial and can help alleviate testing anxieties. Apply here: https://www.dc37.net/benefits/education/offerings/testprep.
RETIREES EDUCATION COURSES FOR WINTER 2022: Apply now for online classes for the WINTER 2022 cycle here or go to the website if you prefer to print and mail the application to the address indicated. For more information, email Manuel Gomez-Rosa: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-815-1700.
Let’s hit the “reset” button in 2022. Click on and join WorkWell NYC’s Start Anew in 2022 series that shares simple tips and inspirational practices to make 2022 a year of renewal, restoration, and wellness.
Rethinking Healthy Eating with WW on JAN. 13
Join WorkWell NYC and WW (formerly Weight Watchers) for an interactive webinar on developing a new mindset around healthy eating, and setting yourself up for success in all areas of wellness.
Your Yearlong Guide to Health, Happiness and Wellness on JAN. 26
Join this panel discussion with fellow City employees to learn and share best practices on setting wellness goals, fostering mindfulness, and engaging in positive thinking. Register here.
To see the full list of WorkWell NYC events, visit: on.nyc.gov/upcomingevents