18 Jul

Daily News Op-Ed: Make the climate polluters pay up

New York – Today, in an op-ed published in the New York Daily News, Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Jeff Dinowitz argue that fossil fuel companies, not taxpayers, should be the ones to pay to clean up the mess they’ve made of our climate.


Make the climate polluters pay up

It can be hard to figure out how one individual state can act to address global problems. A case in point: climate change, an existential threat to the future of the planet and all who inhabit it.

Recently, temperatures reached 122 degrees Fahrenheit in the South Asian subcontinent, baking one and a half billion people in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in an extreme heatwave that scientists believe was made 30 times more likely to occur by climate change. The sweltering heat killed livestock, crops, wild animals and at least 90 people.

The United States is not immune to searing heat. We have seen similar heat waves take out power grids in Texas as well as in New York. High temperatures out West have fueled unprecedented wildfires and evaporation of often already scarce water supplies, and our western state counterparts are currently experiencing the worst drought in more than a millennium. Closer to home, in New York, prolonged heat has triggered toxic algal blooms that threaten our freshwater supplies and recurring heatwaves have claimed lives — especially in urban areas such as New York City.

Climate change has also fueled an increasing intensity and frequency of storms that have battered New York, causing billions of dollars in damages — amounting to $19 billion from Superstorm Sandy in New York City alone. Since 2010, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that natural disasters have cost New York up to $100 billion in damages and lost economic impact, representing a tenfold increase from previous decades.

Researchers have estimated the potential economic costs of climate change in New York State for key sectors may approach $10 billion each year by the mid-21st century.

Given federal gridlock and intransigence, if not outright antagonism, states like New York have stepped up with aggressive goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The state’s landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019 requires that we achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 and rapidly move to transition our electrical grid to fully renewable energy. These are vital goals, but they will come with significant cost.

The questions facing policymakers are not easy. How do we equitably distribute responsibility for the costs of saving our planet’s future? Who should bear the costs of responding to this deadly threat, and how do we ensure that the responsible parties do not pass these costs onto the public in the form of higher prices?

One thing we all know is that fossil fuel companies are significantly responsible for the damage that has been done to our climate and the dangers we face if we do not act quickly. These corporations have known for decades that their product was destroying our climate, and they did everything they could to hide the truth from the public so they could continue to generate billions of dollars in profits at the expense of future generations.

New York has an existing model on how to fund expensive and substantial environmental remediations. Building on the federal Superfund program from 1980, New York’s Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site Program (known as the State Superfund) offers a well-functioning “polluter pays” model to address environmental hazards.

Under this model, the state identifies contaminated sites, investigates the responsible party, and charges the polluter. Notably, this program does not require that the polluter acted negligently or with intent to damage the environment in order to collect payment — the simple act of creating the mess is sufficient to hold the responsible party to account for their actions.

Working off this State Superfund model, we have introduced new legislation that extends the principle of the “polluter pays” to the damage to our climate caused by greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, the predominant contributor to global climate change.

This first-in-the-nation legislation has the potential to generate tens of billions of dollars that can be used to pay for adaptive infrastructure such as coastal defenses, resilience projects for highways and subways, sewage system retrofits, public school air conditioning, and many more expensive but necessary infrastructure improvements to ensure a livable future for our children and grandchildren.

If we’re successful, this legislation can be a model for other states and nations worldwide on how to pay for the staggering costs of dealing with climate change. Fossil fuel companies make enormous profits from exacerbating climate change, even today as they continue to gouge consumers on gas and home energy prices.

The world knows that it faces a dire threat and staggering costs. It’s time to make those who made the mess pay for the cleanup. Make the climate polluters pay.

Dinowitz represents the North and Northwest Bronx in the state Assembly. Krueger represents Midtown and the East Side of Manhattan in the state Senate.

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11 Jul

Manhattan Electeds Submit Comments on the Penn Station Plan Final Environmental Impact Statement

New York City – Today, Senator Liz Krueger, along with Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Senators Brad Hoylman and Robert Jackson, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, and City Council Member Erik Botcher, submitted testimony to the Empire State Development Board regarding the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Pennsylvania Station Area Civic and Land Use Project, also known as the Penn Station Plan. The testimony can be viewed below, and can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking here.

Testimony regarding the Pen… by State Senator Liz Krueger

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24 Jun

Statement From Senator Liz Krueger On SCOTUS Decision Overturning Roe v. Wade

New York City – State Senator Liz Krueger released the following statement today regarding the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade:

“For the past 50 years, women nationwide have had the right to safe and legal abortion. Today’s heinous ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade means that millions of women will no longer have the right to make the most personal decisions about their own bodies and to access necessary reproductive health care services. This will have immeasurable impacts on women’s liberty, rights, and equality; women’s reproductive healthcare; and maternal mortality and morbidity.

“While many states have enacted inhumane and dangerous abortion bans, New York has passed laws to fortify abortion rights, to expand access to reproductive healthcare, and to provide a safe haven for refugees from other states in need of abortion care, those who help them, and those who provide that much-needed care.”


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27 May

Krueger, Dinowitz Introduce Nation-Leading Climate Change Superfund Act

Albany – Today Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair of the Assembly Codes Committee, and State Senator Liz Krueger, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, along with environmental advocates and experts, announced the introduction of the Climate Change Superfund Act (S.9417).

Full video of the announcement can be viewed by clicking here.

In light of the billions of dollars in damages that New York State has suffered as a result of climate change, and the tens of billions more to come in future decades, this first-in-the-nation legislation will use the polluter-pays model exemplified by existing federal and state superfund laws to collect $30 billion over ten years for climate change adaptation from the parties most responsible for causing the climate crisis – fossil fuel companies.

Right now consumers are facing pain at the pump as well as in their gas and electric bills. At the same time, the oil and gas industry is raking in enormous profits.The Climate Change Superfund Act will claw back some of the oil and gas industry’s recent windfall profits and use them for adaptation costs that would otherwise be charged to state taxpayers. The program is designed to prevent such costs from being passed on to consumers.

“The climate crisis is here, right now, and it’s already causing billions of dollars in damage and a growing death toll in New York State,” said Senator Krueger. “We must begin to make the investments necessary not only to mitigate future climate change, but to adapt to and defend ourselves from the damage that’s already been done. The cost of inaction is inconceivable – in money, in lives, and in countless other ways. Nonetheless, there will be a large price-tag to the work we have to do, and it’s only fair that the companies who made the mess should pay for cleaning it up. The Climate Change Superfund Act is one critical piece of the puzzle of funding our state’s response to the climate emergency.”

“The damage done to our climate and to our communities from decades of corporate disregard for scientific evidence is irreparable and omnipresent,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz. “As we continue to take big steps towards a green future in order to mitigate the worst potential impacts from climate change, the Climate Change Superfund Act would be a vital resource to invest in adaptive and resilient infrastructure, and it is common sense to charge those who did the most damage to our climate for the costs of keeping people alive amidst our new climate reality.”

“The climate crisis is a global emergency that is taking a devastating toll locally, and we know who bears responsibility: the fossil fuel industry whose business model directly results in catastrophic levels of greenhouse gas emissions that threaten the habitability of our planet. We see this as more frequent and extreme weather events destroy lives and livelihoods, such as Hurricane Ida. We see it with chronic flooding that strains our water infrastructure and extreme heat that exacerbates energy poverty and endangers our community members. It’s long overdue for the fossil fuel companies to pay for the damage they’ve caused our communities, particularly to Black and brown communities. New York is leading the way with the Climate Change Superfund Act,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman. “In Congress, I worked with my Democratic colleagues to advance a similar assessment of past greenhouse gas emissions by fossil fuel companies in Build Back Better, and as the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report shows, we need bold action urgently. FEMA and other disaster relief can only do so much – we need long term solutions that face the climate crisis head on, and holding the fossil fuel industry accountable for their corporate greed is a necessary part of that work.”

New Yorkers are already experiencing significant impacts from the climate crisis – deadly superstorms, heatwaves, flooding, toxic algal blooms, extreme weather of all kinds, and billions of dollars in damage to property and critical infrastructure. According to one recent study, by the middle of this century, the damage caused by climate change could cost New York State nearly $10 billion dollars every year.

The Climate Change Superfund Act is grounded in the well-established polluter-pays principle exemplified in New York’s Hazardous Waste Site Remediation Program, known as the state superfund law, and the state Oil Spill Cleanup Fund, and applies it to the greenhouse gas emissions that have destabilized the climate. The biggest historical producers of fossil fuels will be charged a share of the costs necessary for New York State to adapt to climate change. The money raised through the climate superfund will be used to fund infrastructure projects within the state that are necessary to adapt to baked-in climate change by, for example, repairing damage from extreme weather events or upgrading coastal infrastructure.

Like the existing state superfund program and the Oil Spill Cleanup Fund, polluters would be strictly liable for damages under the Climate Change Superfund Act. No showing of fault or negligence is required. The program is remedial in nature, seeking compensation for damages resulting from the past actions of polluters. The bill would require that the fossil fuel companies help pay for a portion of the cost of necessary climate change-adaptive infrastructure based on their individual shares of total greenhouse gas emissions beginning in the year 2000.

The total claim assessed against the fossil fuel industry as a whole would be $30 billion, payable over ten years. To put that in perspective, Gazprom, the Russian fossil fuel company, made $29 billion in profits last year alone. ExxonMobil made nearly $6 billion in profits in just the first quarter of this year.

Two factors make it possible for the state to determine the proportionate responsibility that individual companies bear for historical greenhouse gas emissions. First, based on the research of Dr. Richard Heede, it is now possible to use company records to determine the amount of product put into the marketplace by each large fossil fuel company and to translate that into an amount of greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere. The formula for doing so is specifically written into the bill language. Second, because the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is roughly constant everywhere on the planet, if a particular company is responsible for X% of global historical greenhouse gas emissions, that percentage is the same at any location on Earth.

Because the assessments are sunk costs that do not affect the marginal cost of the product being sold, textbook economics says that the cost will generally not be passed on to consumers. In addition, because companies will not be paying the same assessment amount, there will be market pressure preventing companies with larger assessments from charging more for their product when competing against companies that faced smaller assessments.

The program would be administered by DEC, which would issue the assessments to responsible companies and collect payments. Funds would be dispersed to qualifying climate change adaptive infrastructure projects, which are defined as projects designed to avoid, moderate, or repair damage caused by climate change. These would include, for example, storm water drainage systems, coastal wetlands restoration, defensive upgrades to roads, bridges, and subways, air conditioning and other upgrades to schools and public buildings, as well as projects to adapt to damage to agricultural land or fisheries.

In line with the requirements of the CLCPA, at least 35% of expenditures will go to projects that directly benefit disadvantaged communities.

Blair Horner, Executive Director, NYPIRG, said: “The burning of oil and gas has stuck New York — and the world — with billions of dollars of costs to adapt to the worsening climate. Now, those same companies are raking in enormous profits, while New Yorkers are getting stuck again — with skyrocketing energy costs. This innovative legislation will force the oil and gas industries to pick up at least some of the state’s financial tab triggered by global warming and will do so in a manner that protects consumers. NYPIRG applauds Senator Krueger’s and Assemblymember Dinowitz’s Climate Change Superfund and urges Governor Hochul and state lawmakers to support it.”

Peter M. Iwanowicz, Executive Director, Environmental Advocates NY, said: “In order to be successful, New York must employ a comprehensive approach to fighting climate change. Much like tobacco companies and opioid producers have been made to pay for the damage they have wrought, we must hold polluters accountable for the harm they have done while continuing to advance efforts to prevent future harm. This bill is innovative, timely, and ultimately necessary if we are serious about addressing the impacts of climate change.”

Roger Downs, Conservation Director, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, said: “Fossil fuel companies for decades have helped plunge our planet into the climate crisis, and during times of global economic unrest have reaped excessive profits while the world endures increasingly severe storms, floods, droughts, heatwaves, mass extinctions and public health emergencies. New York state is struggling to finance the transition to a zero emissions society and repair the damage caused by climatic shifts and sea level rise – and the communities that have contributed the least to climate change now bear the economic burden of its worst impacts. The Sierra Club applauds Senator Krueger and Assemblymember Dinowitz for recognizing the need for a robust polluter penalty and the creation of a climate fund that can turn these ill gotten fossil fuel windfalls into a vehicle for climate justice.”

Richard Schrader, NY Legislative and Policy Director, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), said: “The effects of climate change are threatening our health, our communities, our economy, and our future. This bill ensures that New York’s frontline communities are able to become more resilient against the impacts of climate change. Fossil fuel companies continue to try to undermine the state’s landmark climate law, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which set a goal of 40% carbon emission reduction by 2030.”

Dr. Frederick Kowal, President, United University Professions, said: “The Climate Emergency is real and has impacted under-resourced communities of color severely. To address this environmental injustice, we must look to fossil fuel companies who for decades polluted with impunity, and continue to exacerbate the ecological emergency we find ourselves in today. The Climate Change Superfund Act proposed by Sen. Krueger and Assemblyman Dinowitz forces fossil fuel conglomerates—who have raked in enormous profits while causing extensive climate damage—to pay up for the damage they’ve caused. This legislation protects all New Yorkers, especially those communities who have been impacted most by climate change. United University Professions urges Governor Hochul and state legislators to support this important bill.”

This groundbreaking legislation has already stimulated interest from environmental activists beyond New York.

Mike Tidwell, Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said: “Finally! This New York State bill forces polluters to pay for climate damages. It also points the way for other states. Climate change affects us all — and the polluters should pay everywhere. My state of Maryland is paying attention and eager to follow. Same with D.C. and other Mid-Atlantic states.”

Alan Palm350 Mass, said: “The impacts of unchecked climate change will cost our Commonwealth tens of billions of dollars and cause incalculable harm for the communities who are, and will continue to be most impacted—threatening homes, health, and lives. Those who are most responsible for causing the problem should pay some of the costs. We intend to introduce legislation that would empower our state government to hold those corporations who have contributed the most to climate change financially accountable”


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27 May

Skyrocketing Utility Costs: Why Is My Con Ed Bill So High?

A Virtual Town Hall recorded on Thursday, May 26th, 2022, with State Senator Liz Krueger, Richard A. Berkley, Esq., Executive Director of the Public Utility Law Project (PULP), and Laurie Wheelock, Esq., Deputy General Counsel and Deputy Director of the Public Utility Law Project (PULP).

Full video of the event can be viewed by clicking here.


Important Links:

— PULP PowerPoint Presentation



PULP Toll Free Hotline: 877-669-2572


— ConEd smart meter dashboard


— NYSERDA’s Solar For All program


— Opt out of the ConEd smart meter


—  ConEd’s tariff:

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24 May

Sen. Krueger Joins 71 NYC Electeds Urging MTA To Restore Subway Booth Transactions

New York City – Today, State Senator Liz Krueger joined 71 City elected officials, as well at the TWU Local 100, in urging the MTA to restore subway booth transactions that have been suspended during the COVID 19 pandemic.

The letter can be viewed below, and can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking here.

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23 May

Sen. Krueger’s Roundtable for Boomers and Seniors Session VIII: Reframing Aging: Building an Age Friendly City

Senator Liz Krueger’s 2022 Virtual Roundtable for Boomers and Seniors

“Aging in Place: Living Well in the Community”

Session VIII: Reframing Aging: Building an Age Friendly City

Thursday, May 19th, from 10 am – 11:30 am

The majority of older people want to age in place, which is possible with the right support and planning. This multi-part roundtable series will bring together experts and thought leaders to help us understand some of the vital components needed to age well in the community.

If we want the resources we need to age well in the community, we must reframe the way we think and talk about getting older. When we view aging in a more positive frame, it becomes easier to take action to change things in our community to support older adults. Learn about how you can work to make your neighborhood more age friendly, and find out about key policies in New York City that still need to be addressed to support us as we age.

Full video of the event can be viewed by clicking here.

The May 19th Roundtable features:

– Crystal Hudson, Aging Committee Chair, New York City Council

– Elana Kieffer, Acting Director, Center for Healthy Aging, New York Academy of Medicine

– Allison Nickerson, Executive Director, LiveOn NY

– Alden Prouty, Member, Carnegie Hill Village

– Mario Rubano, MPH, Policy Associate, Center for Health Aging, New York Academy Of Medicine

Important Links:

— New York Academy of Medicine PowerPoint

–COVID Information

Link to the NYC COVID-19 Alert Level website:

If you want to speak about your eligibility for treatment and you do not have a health care provider, or you are uninsured, you can call 212-268-4319 to speak with a health care provider.

Link to the website with information about the tests:

Link to order the tests:, or you can call 1-800-232-0233


–Live On New York

Reframing Aging:


–New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM)

NYAM Age-friendly Neighborhoods webpage:

Creating and Age-friendly NYC One Neighborhood at a Time:

Thriving Together: How to Sustain, Grow, and Fund, your Age-friendly Neighborhood Organization:


–Senator Krueger’s Senior Resource Guide

Email to request a copy at

Call to request a copy 212.490.9535


–Senator Kruger’s Guide “What To Do with All that Stuff”


–Department for the Aging

Aging Connect is the New York City Department for the Aging’s information and referral contact center for older adults and their families.



–Councilmember Crystal Hudson’s Office



–Information about the Initiative to Modernize Senior Centers.


–Senior Move Manager Website

Type in your zip code and find a local service who can assist older adults to move their belongings.


–Elder Abuse Services

Carter Burden Network – Community Elder Mistreatment and Abuse Prevention Services

Services include safety planning, crisis intervention, court advocacy, legal guidance, community education programs, coordination with policy and a safe place to talk.

917.409.1261, Ext 463


Manhattan District Attorney’s Elder Abuse Unit



New York City Elder Abuse Center

The NYC Elder Abuse Center (NYCEAC) is proud to offer a unique service to concerned persons in the lives of elder abuse victims. A concerned person is a family member, friend, or neighbor impacted by elder abuse.

Tel # 844.746.6905 (M-F 9 am – 5PM


–Links to videos and resources for 2022 Roundtable Season Series

Good Medical Care for Older Adults:

A 4 M Framework to for Medical Care:

Advanced Planning: Health Care Proxies and Living Wills:

The Age Friendly Home:

Medicaid Planning:

Solo Aging:


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16 May

Sen. Krueger Holds Press Conference for the Sex Trade Survivors Justice and Equality Act

(Albany) – On Tuesday, May 10th, 2022, at 1:30 pm, Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Pamela Hunter and allies held a press conference in support of the Sex Trade Survivors Justice and Equality Act. This legislation would be an additional tool to prevent sex trafficking in New York. Partial decriminalization calls for the end of arrests and incarceration of people engaged in prostitution. It offers the exit and support services they need, while still holding to account pimps, brothel owners, traffickers, sex buyers and exploiters.

Full video of the event can be viewed by clicking here.

Speakers include:

· Senator Liz Krueger (NY-28)

· Assembly Member Pamela Hunter (NY-128)

· Cristián Eduardo: Survivor Leader at Sanctuary for Families

· Jayne Bigelsen: Vice President of Advocacy, Covenant House New York

· Sonia Ossorio: President, NOW New York

As co-sponsors of the Sex Trade Survivors Justice and Equality Act, Senator Krueger and Assembly Member Hunter are eager to see the framework for partial decriminalization – known as the “Equality Model”, adopted by Sweden, Norway, France, Canada, Ireland, Israel, among other nations – applied in New York State. The Sex Trade Survivors Justice and Equality Act will:

1. Decriminalize people in prostitution, repeal the crime of selling sex, prevent people in the sex trade from being charged as an accomplice to promoting or compelling prostitution when they are helping others also in prostitution without profiting, prohibit the usage of condoms as evidence in criminal trials for prostitution.

2. Expand access to comprehensive social services, extendthe legal protections and comprehensive services afforded to minors arrested for prostitution under New York’s Safe Harbor law, to cover young adults up to age 24, enable a broader pool of people to access social services from organizations combating gender violence by aligning New York’s definition of human trafficking with the federal definition, create a regionally, racially, and sexually diverse State task force with representation from people in the sex trade and advocates, to ensure access and administration of social services to people in prostitution across New York.

3. Strengthen laws against trafficking, while laws that hold accountable pimps, sex traffickers, and other profiteers remain unchanged. Eliminate a loophole in NY state law that prevents sex buyers from being charge with “promoting prostitution” when they traffic people to themselves, strengthen protections for children by eliminating an “ignorance defense” afforded to those who buy sex from children under 11 (1st degree), 15 (2nd degree), or in a school zone.

4. Advance criminal justice reformby clearing survivors’ records for crimes committed while under the control of their exploiter, automatically expunge all past charges for prostitution and loitering for the purpose of prostitution, address the over-incarceration of people of color and implicit bias in law enforcement by penalizing the misdemeanor crime of buying sex with a fine (instead of jail) and utilizing an income-based fine scale to incentivize law enforcement to target buyers with disposable income. A portion of these fines will be directed to a victims’ compensation fund.

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03 May

Sen. Krueger’s Virtual Roundtable for Boomers and Seniors Session VII – Technology Can Work For You

Senator Liz Krueger’s 2022 Virtual Roundtable for Boomers and Seniors

“Aging in Place: Living Well in the Community”

Session VII: Technology Can Work For You

Thursday, April 28th, from 10 am – 11:30 am

The majority of older people want to age in place, which is possible with the right support and planning. This multi-part roundtable series will bring together experts and thought leaders to help us understand some of the vital components needed to age well in the community.

Feeling frustrated and defeated by technology? Don’t think it’s right for you? The April 28th Roundtable presentation will provide information that may change your mind. You will learn about tech classes designed specifically for older adults, and new tech products to support us as we age, including information about devices to help individuals with hearing loss. Finally, if you believe that tech devices are designed without your needs in mind, learn about the research at MIT’s AgeLab dedicated to improving product design and committed to including the older adult perspective.

The April 28th Roundtable features:

– Marco DiGirolomo, New York State Program Manager, Senior Planet and Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) from AARP

– Chaiwoo Lee, PhD, Research Scientist, MIT AgeLab

– Greg Olsen, Acting Director, New York State Office for the Aging

– Carolyn Ginsburg Stern, Assistant Director of Outreach and Strategic Initiatives, Center for Hearing and Communication


Video of the event can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.


Important Links:

– PowerPoint from Chaiwoo Lee

– PowerPoint from Greg Olsen

– PowerPoint from Carolyn Ginsburg Stern


–COVID Information

NYC COVID-19 Alert System:

Link to the state order – 3/2/22 NYS DOH Commissioner’s Determination on Masking In Certain Indoor Settings:

City-run brick & mortar and mobile testing sites:  City distribution sites where you can pick up free COVID-19 at-home rapid tests:


–Older Adult Technology Services (OATS)

OATS Hotline Number:  888-713-3495

–Federal government new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) for low-income households get help paying for internet and devices.

ACP 877.745.1930


–Center for Hearing and Communication

CHC’s Website:


–Free Hearing Screenings:


–Products for Hearing Loss


–Support for Hearing Loss


–Carolyn’s Contact Information:



–Senator Krueger’s Senior Resource Guide

Email to request a copy at

Call to request a copy 212.490.9535


–MIT Age Lab


 Links for Tech Assistance

–Search and Care

Search and Care’s “Silver Circles” program has been helping older adults increase their connectivity through the use of technology, in both one-on- one and group sessions. Pre-COVID, these sessions took place in our agency office and directly in clients’ homes. For now, all sessions are being conducted remotely (telephonic or video chat) until safe to do otherwise.

Silver Circles


–Lenox Hill Neighborhood House

 Members of Lenox Hill Neighborhood House’s Older Adult Centers can sign up for Tech Help or request the class schedule.

 Phone 212-218-0477


Non-members age 60 and over can contact 212- 218-0319 to become a member.



DOROT has created a series of basic technology guides on a variety of topics, including Zoom, that are available to all. Designed for older adults, the guides have clear directions, are written in everyday language and include large pictures of what is seen on the screen during each step.

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03 Mar

Krueger Urges Adams To Maintain Vaccination And School Masking Policy

New York City – Today, State Senator Liz Krueger released a letter to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, urging him to maintain the Key to NYC vaccination requirements and public school masking requirements. The full letter can be viewed here and is reprinted below.

“We all want life to get back to some semblance of normal – that’s why it’s so important to avoid declaring victory too early,” said Senator Krueger. “I urge Mayor Adams to retain the Key to NYC vaccination requirement and the school masking requirement. As we have seen over and over during the pandemic, when we let our guard down too soon it only serves to prolong the crisis. The science shows us that we are not there yet.”

In her letter, Senator Krueger emphasizes the layered approach to protection provided by the vaccination and masking requirements, the unique characteristics of New York City that require different approaches from the rest of the state, as well as the significant risks posed by new variants and future waves of the virus. She also points to the deep inequities that exist in the city’s public schools, where vaccination rates range from a high of 92.7% of students fully vaccinated to a low of just 9.9%, as well as the disparate impacts of overcrowding, poor ventilation, and high localized community transmission rates. Instead of removing these protections now, Senator Krueger recommends the use of clear and appropriate science-driven metrics to guide policy changes.

“For the sake of our kids and their teachers, our small business owners, our front-line workers, and our vulnerable neighbors, we cannot afford to give in to wishful thinking or political expediency and risk another devastating wave that sets back our city’s recovery yet again,” Senator Krueger continued. “Vaccination and masking work, they have helped us get to where we are today with case numbers way down – now is the time to be smart and stay the course. ”


March 3, 2022

Mayor Eric Adams
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor Adams:

I write to express my strong opposition to the pending changes to the Key to NYC and public-school masking policies that were announced February 27 on Twitter. I urge you to consider the distinct likelihood that we will face another surge in the near future, and to adopt more measured policies that establish target metrics for relaxing critical safety measures while protecting the progress we have made in the ongoing battle against COVID-19.

As a large, densely-populated metropolitan city with a majority of multi-resident households and buildings with subpar ventilation systems, New York City is vulnerable to rapid spread of COVID-19. Since the pandemic struck, New York City and State have shown remarkable leadership in following the science and establishing evidence-based policies to help fight COVID-19 and protect public health in a manner that aims to reduce health inequities. Although no one can predict precisely what the next phase of the pandemic will look like, public health experts anticipate the rise of new variants and possible evolution of the virus due to conditions still being ripe for mutations. Public health policy experts advise this is the time to plan and prepare for the next phase of the pandemic rather than prematurely declare victory.

Implementing the Key to NYC program enabled dining, fitness, and entertainment and meeting venues to re-open and conduct business indoors more safely, particularly once patrons and staff were required to be fully vaccinated. The program has also motivated individuals to get vaccinated who would not have done so otherwise. I have heard from many constituents, older adults in particular, who were happy to dine out again once the Key to NYC program was implemented because they felt safe.

In addition to the benefits of establishing the Key to NYC program, I would like to highlight a number of important arguments for why the program’s vaccination requirement should not be lifted under the current circumstances:

  • Getting vaccinated is the best protection against severe illness from COVID-19 and helps to reduce transmission. If the Key to NYC program is lifted, this layer of protection in establishments that are higher risk for transmission will be eliminated.
  • After the CDC released updated mask recommendations on February 25, the President of the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a statement, strongly encouraging everyone to continue masking indoors:
  • Lifting the vaccination requirement will be counterproductive to the goal of promoting economic recovery while protecting public health. Lifting the vaccination requirement may actually encourage more unvaccinated people to come to NYC, thereby increasing community transmission and prolonging the pandemic.
  • Unvaccinated and immunocompromised people, as well as older adults are at greater risk for severe illness and need to be protected. Children under the age of 5 will not be approved to get vaccinated for at least several months. Minors are unable to get vaccinated without parental consent.
  • It is likely that the Key to NYC vaccination requirement would need to be reinstated to help keep dining, entertainment, and fitness establishments in business while managing future surges. Reinstituting the Key to NYC program would be all the more difficult due to increased frustration with changing policies.
  • Lifting the vaccination requirement for indoor dining will increase the risk to low-wage servers and staff. As we know, restaurants are already facing severe staffing shortages.
  • Many people feel safe enough to dine, exercise, or attend events indoors because of the vaccination requirement. Some people decide to visit NYC, as the Key to NYC program allows them to attend the theatre and dine, etc. in a safer environment. If the requirement is lifted, this could harm tourism and hurt businesses.
  • As we have witnessed, when community transmission increases, members of multi-resident households are at greater risk of transmitting the virus to each other.
  • Our health care workers and hospital systems have been extremely stretched for more than two years and there is a staffing shortage. Our health care systems cannot continue to endure this burden.

Key to NYC provides an important layer of protection at a time when new variants have been mutating every several months. While the existing vaccinations have proven remarkably effective at preventing severe illness and death, particularly for people who have received booster doses, the vaccines do not stop all disease transmission and we do not know how much protection they will provide against future variants. Based on the current status of the pandemic, it would be premature to lift the vaccination requirement at this time. I strongly encourage continuing the Key to NYC vaccination requirement until appropriate metrics are met. Such metrics could include transition out of the pandemic; achieving a 85-90% vaccination rate of all NYC residents, including children under the age of 5; and/or surges decreasing in severity such that our health care systems and testing infrastructure are not on the brink of collapse when case rates spike.

I must also express strong opposition to lifting the masking requirement for all students and staff in NYC public schools. While case and hospitalization rates have decreased dramatically since the recent Omicron surge, the experiences of the last two years indicate we are likely to face another surge in a matter of months. Now is the time to focus on maintaining low community transmission and strengthening our public health infrastructure to be better prepared for future surges.

Even though the CDC and New York State have announced changes to masking requirements in schools, it is premature to lift school mask requirements in all NYC public schools. The following considerations demonstrate the need for a more measured policy:

  • Wearing a mask is an essential public health safety measure to help prevent students, school staff, and their households from contracting the Coronavirus, becoming hospitalized, and even dying. Despite accusations to the contrary, research has shown that mask wearing is an effective mitigation strategy in schools.
  • The high transmissibility and severity of COVID-19 has required use of a layered approach, including mask wearing, to protect public health because no one safety measure provides 100% protection. COVID-19 vaccinations, masking, and testing, as well as other essential safety measures are all part of the layered approach.
  • Removing the mask requirement fails to take into account enormous disparities in school vaccination rates, concerning environmental conditions in schools, school staffing shortages, and other aggravating factors. School masking requirements must be flexible and responsive to these conditions.
  • Lifting masking requirements in all public schools will be unsafe due to low vaccination rates of children age 5-12 and the enormous disparities in school vaccination rates. The vaccination rate of NYC public schools ranges from a low of 12% of students who have received their first dose and 9.9% who are fully vaccinated to a high of 93.8% of students who have received their first dose and 92.7% who are fully vaccinated; and children below the age of 5 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. Lifting the mask requirement in all public schools will create additional burdens and inequities where vaccination rates are lower, particularly for unvaccinated and immunocompromised students, staff, and those with whom they interact. Mask wearing in many schools continues to be pertinent and necessary
  • Many public schools with the lowest vaccination rates are also the most overcrowded, have poor ventilation, and are in communities with higher COVID-19 infection rates.Masking provides additional protection for our children, including those who are not yet eligible to get vaccinated.
  • The benefits of masking cannot be supplanted with testing. Wearing a mask helps to prevent transmission, while the function of testing is to diagnose, provide surveillance, and interrupt the chain of transmission. School safety measures should include robust testing and mask wearing, along with other proven safety measures as appropriate.

Masking in schools is a core safety measure that has proven effective in helping to prevent community transmission. Instead of removing the mask requirement, it would be much more prudent to establish metrics as an indicator of when it is reasonable for a school to remove masking requirements. Metrics could include, for example, a minimum school vaccination rate of 70-80%, and a maximum community or city positivity rate of 3% or 7-day average case rate of 10 per 100K individuals.

In summary, this is the time to focus on maintaining low community transmission levels, as well as on planning and preparing for the next phase of the pandemic, while implementing measured policies to safely relax mask-wearing and vaccination requirements. The well-being of our health care workers, capacity of our hospital systems, and financial health of our city depend on our ability to prevent or minimize the rise of the next surge. We will not accomplish this if we relax too many layers of our protection too quickly. Policy decisions must follow the science, be responsive to the unique characteristics of New York City, and protect vulnerable New Yorkers. I strongly urge you to adopt the above-mentioned policy suggestions.

Thank you for your consideration of the policy considerations and requests detailed in this letter. I look forward to hearing your response.

Thank you,

Liz Krueger
State Senator

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