By Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
Photo credit: JP Photography
In this new year, more than ever, I am reminded of the importance of New York City’s immigrant communities. They have taken care of us throughout the pandemic: Half of the one million essential workers on the front lines — delivery workers, EMS staff, drivers, healthcare personnel, and more — are immigrants.
To all the immigrants who have helped us, thank you, and please know: New York City is here for you. City resources, including healthcare, food assistance and other services, are available to all during the Covid-19 crisis, regardless of immigration status or ability to pay. If you want to know more, visit our resource guide online at nyc.gov/immigrants/coronavirus.
If you have questions about how accessing certain public benefits may affect immigration status, call the ActionNYC hotline, open Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., at 1 (800) 354-0365 for information and be connected to city-funded, free and safe immigration legal help. Seeking Covid-19 testing and care, accessing free meals or using other city services related to Covid-19 will not be considered under the public charge rule and will not impact your ability to apply for a green card or citizenship. Visit nyc.gov/covidtest, text “COVID TEST” to 855-48, or call (212) COVID19 (268-4319) and say “Covid-19 test” to find a testing location near you.
You and your family can access healthcare services, including emergency care, at NYC Health + Hospitals. Call 1 (844) NYC-4NYC (692-4692). The city’s public hospital system welcomes all NYC residents to get care no matter what your immigration status is. It also runs NYC Care, a healthcare access program which guarantees services at little or no cost to New Yorkers who do not qualify for or cannot afford health insurance. You can call (646) NYC-CARE (692-2273) or visit nyccare.nyc to learn more.
Our communities have worked so hard to provide for others and to put food on the table through this challenging year. No New Yorker should go hungry. The city provides free meals for all New Yorkers at more than 500 meal hubs citywide, open Monday through Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. You can pick up multiple meals at one time or pick up meals for other household members. There is a vegetarian and halal option available at all sites, and kosher and nonvegetarian halal options are available at select sites. To find a location near you, visit nyc.gov/getfood or call 311. Your immigration status does not matter, and no registration or identification is required. There is also no income limit to access the city’s food pantries or community kitchens for groceries and hot meals.
If you are a residential renter and need help with any issues related to housing, eviction or your landlord, visit nyc.gov/tenantprotection or call 311 and say “tenant helpline.” Free legal information, advice and tenant coaching are available to all New York City residential tenants regardless of their income, ZIP code or immigration status. Rental assistance is available to all New York City residential renters who meet the criteria, and many tenants are eligible for free legal representation in Housing Court. Contact the City’s Tenant Helpline for assistance in your language to learn more about tenant rights and resources, or if you are at risk of eviction.
For any questions
Lastly, you can call the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs hotline at (212) 788-7654, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or send an email to AskMOIA@cityhall.nyc.gov with any questions about how to access city services. If we don’t answer, leave a message with your name and number and we will call you back.
The City of New York is also advocating for the federal government to ensure that Covid-19 resources are inclusive of everyone, to include support for immigrants who were previously left out of federal aid, and to provide economic and social support for all. New York City is here for you.
This article was originally published in the Queens Chronicle.