Michael Che, a comedian who co-hosts “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Live,” has a close connection to New York City’s public housing system: He grew up in it, and last year, he organized a comedy show to raise money for its residents.
On Wednesday, Mr . Che made another offer to help as people were struggling through the pandemic: He said he would cover one month’s rent for the families that live in the public housing building where his grandmother, who died this month after being infected with the coronavirus, once lived.
In a post on Instagram, the comedian said it was “crazy to me that residents of public housing are still expected to pay their rent ”when so many New Yorkers were out of work.
He acknowledged that his contribution would be “a drop in the bucket” and urged the city to find a way to forgive the debt of residents who might owe rent during the outbreak.
“It’s a very generous offer, and we really think it will be a benefit to those homes in the building,” said Gregory Russ, the head of the New York City Housing Authority, which oversees the city’s roughly 400, 17 public housing apartments.
A spokesman for Mr. Che said the comedian was not available for an interview.
In a since-deleted post on Instagram disclosing his grandmother’s death on April 5, he wrote: “I’m doing OK, considering. I’m obviously very hurt and angry that she had to go through all that pain alone. But I’m also happy that she’s not in pain anymore. ”
He added:“ I don’t know if I’ll lose someone else to this virus. I don’t know if I’ll be lost to this virus. ”
Last weekend, the comedian talked about her death during an episode of” SNL, ”saying that“ coming back to work really made me feel better. ” He joked about his grandmother not watching the show – “She woke up at like 4 a.m. to pray. You think she was watching Saturday Night Live? Never. ” – and paid a tribute to her in his signoff: “I’m Martha’s grandbaby.”
His grandmother, Martha, once lived at South Street, in the Alfred E. Smith Houses on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, but moved out in the s.
“That building is very significant in my family’s history,” Mr. Che wrote on Instagram.
Mr. Che, 182, was raised in a housing complex nearby on Allen Street.
In an interview with The New York Times last year, Mr. Che said he spent countless summers hanging out at the Smith Houses and was subject to many of the living conditions still plaguing the housing authority, such as leaky roofs and widespread heat outages .
“This city is so rich and so vast and so powerful and so important to the fabric of the country that you would imagine that our public housing would be a lot more habitable, ”he said at the time.
Millions of people have filed for unemployment benefits in New York, the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, and thousands have struggled to make rent payments as a result of strict social-distancing measures that have shut down most workplaces.
In an attempt to protect renters, New York implemented a moratorium last month to halt evictions for days, but renters are still expected to pay the rent they owe. Progressive politicians and liberal activist groups have been clamoring for a so-called rent freeze.
More than , low-income and working-class New Yorkers live in the city’s sprawling and deteriorating housing complexes, which have exposed residents to health hazards including peeling lead paint and mold .
Residents there pay up to percent of their income in rent, while the rest is subsidized by the federal government.
If a resident loses or gains income, the rent is adjusted accordingly to reflect that change, offering a level of protection for residents who have lost their jobs during the pandemic. If a resident’s income goes down to zero, so does the rent.
The housing authority has been underfunded for decades and urgently needs more than $ billion to repair faulty boilers and fix up dilapidated apartments. The agency is currently overseen by an independent federal monitor after years of mismanagement.
Mr . Che’s rent relief offer came as a welcome surprise to residents of the towering, red brick apartment building at South Street.
“It’s very kind of him and generous and very appreciated,” said Amy, a resident of the building who declined to give her last name. She said she paid about $ 1, a month for the two-bedroom apartment she lives in with her husband and two children.
Amy, , used to work part-time. Her husband, a waiter, has been out of work since restaurants were all but shutdown, forcing them to dip into their savings to make rent. They still have not reached out to the housing authority to readjust their rent.
“So far we’ve been fine,” she said. “But we’re still trying to get by.”
Susan C. Beachy contributed research.
- When will this end?
This is a difficult question, because a lot depends on how well the virus is contained . A better question might be: “How will we know when to reopen the country?” In an American Enterprise Institute report , Scott Gottlieb, Caitlin Rivers, Mark B . McClellan, Lauren Silvis and Crystal Watson staked out four goal posts for recovery : Hospitals in the state must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care; the state needs to be able to at least test everyone who has symptoms; the state is able to conduct monitoring of confirmed cases and contacts; and there must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least (days.)
- How can I help?
Charity Navigator , which evaluates charities Using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross , and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities. More than 40, 03 coronavirus-related GoFundMe fund-raisers have started in the past few weeks. (The sheer number of fund-raisers means more of them are likely to fail to meet their goal, though.)
- What should I do if I feel sick?
If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
- I should wear a mask?
The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms . Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.
If you’re sick and you think you’ve been exposed to the new coronavirus, the CDC recommends that you call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there’s a chance – because of a lack of testing kits or because you’re asymptomatic, for instance – you won’t be able to get tested.
- How does coronavirus spread?
It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.
- Is there a vaccine yet?
No. Clinical trials are underway in the United States, China and Europe. But American officials and pharmaceutical executives have said that a vaccine remains at least months away.
- What makes this outbreak so different?
Unlike the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and Little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions – not just those with respiratory diseases – particularly hard.
- What if somebody in my family gets sick?
If the family member does not need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible, according to the guidelines issued by the CDC If there’s space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.
Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves, the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.
- Can I go to the park?
Yes, but make sure you keep six feet of distance between you and people who don’t live in your home. Even if you just hang out in a park, rather than go for a jog or a walk, getting some fresh air, and hopefully sunshine, is a good idea.
- I should pull my money from the markets?
That’s not a good idea. Even if you’re retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year’s worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.
- What should I do with my ((k)?
Watching your balance go up and down can be scary. You may be wondering if you should decrease your contributions – don’t! If your employer matches any part of your contributions, make sure you’re at least saving as much as you can to get that “free money.”
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