Author: Daniel Terry

Financial Navigators Program

Mount Vernon, New York Launches No-Cost Financial Navigator Program to Help Residents Tackle COVID-19 Financial Challenges 

Sign-up for a Session

Or Call (914) 222-8615 to reach a Financial Navigator

The City of Mount Vernon was selected by the national nonprofit organization the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) to receive $80,000 in grant funding, technical assistance, and training to launch a Financial Navigators program.  

The Financial Navigators program is designed to help residents deal with the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing remote assistance in navigating critical financial issues by connecting clients to social services and resources. 

The City of Mount Vernon is working with Urban League of Westchester to provide this free public service for all City of Mount Vernon residents. 

Trained Financial Navigators will provide structured guidance over the phone that will assist people prioritize, strategize, and find help during disruption to their income and other financial concerns. Financial Navigation services are available in Spanish. 

Helping residents navigate the financial impact of COVID-19 through the Financial Navigators initiative is a critical part of the City of Mount Vernon’s front line emergency response efforts. 

The CFE Fund’s mission is to improve the financial stability of households with low and moderate incomes by embedding financial empowerment strategies into local government infrastructure. The CFE Fund is a national nonprofit organization that supports over 80 cities and counties across the country. 

Accessing Financial Navigator Services 

People can request a financial navigation appointment directly or through other community organization referrals. 

  1. To do so, complete the webform. Referring organizations may either fill out the web form with the client or share the link to the intake form. 
  2. To complete the form, residents/referring organizations will need only to provide the following basic information: 
    • Client name 
    • ZIP Code 
    • Language preference 
    • Phone and/or email address (NOTE: A phone number is required for Financial Navigator services. Though optional, residents who wish to receive follow-up information must also provide an email address.) 
  1. Navigators will attempt to contact clients a maximum of three (3) times per interest form submission. Because Navigators are working remotely, clients will not be able to call the Navigators back but are welcome to sign-up again via phone number or the web form if they have missed all three (3) attempted contacts. 

The Financial Navigation Session 

Financial Navigation services will be delivered over the phone; session length will depend on what the client wants to focus on, but will generally last no more than 30 minutes. During the session, Navigators will work with clients to identify services to help address their financial concerns. Tactics may include: 

Managing expenses: 

  • Prioritizing payments and when to make them, including: 
    • Tips on negotiating with creditors, including credit card companies, student loan servicers, and personal and business lenders to pause payments without accruing interest; 
    • Determining if utility payments can be paused without disruption of service; and 
    • Considering options to leverage unemployment insurance and/or short term disability 

Maximizing income: 

  • Ensuring receipt of potential future federal payments such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act; and 
  • Providing guidance and connections to enrollment for unemployment insurance, food security benefits, rental assistance, utility assistance, childcare assistance, and other available resources 

Managing Difficulties: 

  • Eviction and foreclosure prevention 
  • Domestic violence 
  • Child abuse 
  • Shelter and housing 
  • Food 

During the session, the Navigator and client will identify next steps to begin addressing the client’s financial issues; clients will receive a document via email outlining those next steps. If a resident has additional questions, they may call the program again; they may be served by a different Navigator. 

Navigators are not financial counselors: they do not have ongoing relationships with clients or help them work through long-term action plans. Navigators also will not provide direct cash assistance to residents. 

Questions? 

If you have questions regarding the City’s Financial Navigator program, please contact Monica Hughes, Community Development Specialist at phone number (914) 840-4022 or email Mhughes@cmvny.com

About the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund (CFE Fund) 

  • The CFE Fund’s mission is to improve the financial stability of households with low and moderate incomes by embedding financial empowerment strategies into local government infrastructure. The CFE Fund is a national nonprofit organization that supports over 80 cities and counties across the country. 

Zoning Board of Appeals meeting Postponed

for January

The Zoning Board Work Session for Wednesday, January 13, 2021, at 6:30 pm is CANCELLED. A regular meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals will still be held on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, at 6:30 PM via ZOOM video conferencing. via ZOOM video conferencing.

Please see the City’s Website (www.cmvny.com) for “ZOOM” Instructions:
Meeting ID: 898 4047 0735
Password: 072289
Dial-In: (646) 876-9923

Document: http://cmvny.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Cancellation.-ZBA-MEETING-NOTICE-January-2021.pdf

PUBLIC NOTICE City Council Meeting & PUBLIC Hearing Postponed

In order to error on the side of public safety, it is necessary that the City Council postpone both tonight’s planned regular City Council meeting as well as the scheduled Public Hearing due to a member of the Office of the City Clerk testing positive for COVID-19 Please stay tuned for a rescheduled date for both meetings

 

Document: 

http://cmvny.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/CIC-Printer_20210113_190644.pdf

STATE OF EMERGENCY ISSUED FOR WINTER STORM GAIL

A State of Emergency is hereby declared in Mount Vernon, New York effective at 6:00 p.m. on December 16, 2020 

The State of Emergency has been declared due to Winter Storm Gail. With heavy snow accumulations of anywhere between 12 and 18 inches and wind gust of up to 45 mph. The brunt of the storm is expected late Wednesday night into Thursday morning and could impose difficult and hazardous traffic conditions. The situation threatens the public safety and health of residents within Mount Vernon. 

This State of Emergency will remain in effect until end of day Friday, December 18, 2020. 

As the Mayor of the City of Mount Vernon, New York, I Shawyn Patterson-Howard exercise the authority given me under Section 24 of the New York State Executive Law, to preserve the public safety and hereby render all required and available assistance vital to the security, well-being and health of the citizens of this Municipality.  

I hereby direct all departments and agencies of the City of Mount Vernon to take whatever steps necessary to protect life and property, public infrastructure, and to provide other such emergency assistance as deemed necessary. 

Shawyn Patterson-Howard 

Mayor, City of Mount Vernon 

Special Real Estate meeting will be held on Friday ,December 4,2020

Special Real Estate meeting will be held on Friday ,December 4,2020

                        City Council Chambers

                        2nd floor

                        Mount Vernon, Ny 10550

                        At 10:00am-11:00am

                       

            Social distancing will be enforced.

Mayor Patterson-Howard’s Thanksgiving Message

Dear Friends,

This Thanksgiving will be a holiday unlike any we’ve ever experienced. With COVID-19 upending daily life and grim rising infection and death tolls, traditional celebrations seem like quaint relics of a different era. We recently issued a Stay-at-Home advisory in Mount Vernon and I urge all of you to rethink your planned events. Getting together poses an undue risk and may endanger those we love and cherish most. Instead of large in-person celebrations, be creative and share virtual time with loved ones.

If we embrace this time of shared sacrifice, follow social distancing rules, wear masks, and minimize our contact with those outside of our immediate households, eventually we’ll be able to gather again. The promise of safe, effective vaccines and national protocols is on the horizon, and with it a return to our cherished traditions, hopefully in time for Thanksgiving 2021.

Our celebrations this year may be different, but the spirit of the holiday remains the same. There is always something to be thankful for, particularly during this unprecedented time: faith and family, health and strength, and our hopes for the future.

Even now, my heart is filled with gratitude. I am grateful for us, our strength and resilience, our courage to stand together in the face of disease and death and support each other through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through our challenges,  Mount Vernon continues to evolve and transform. Our march towards progress and prosperity continues. 

I wish all of you a joyous, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving. As we adapt to our current realities, let us also prepare for a future brimming with possibility. This is a time to cherish the positive, to focus on our collective strength and compassion as a city, and as a country. United, we can overcome any obstacles.  Forward together.

Sincerely,

Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard

Mayor and City Council Hold Emergency Press Conference on Comptroller Deborah Reynolds

November 20, 2020– Today, Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson and the City Council held a joint press conference to discuss Comptroller Deborah Reynolds and how her lack of transparency, accountability and professionalism has left the City in dire financial straits. With a looming COVID-19 second wave compounding other critical financial needs, the City faces a crucial crossroads — the release of more than 13 million dollars being held up by the Comptroller or drastic austerity measures including a possible 25% cut across all agencies or a ten percent tax increase on already burdened local taxpayers.

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MayorShawyn Patterson-Howard, City Council member Derrick Thompson, City Councilmember Marcus Griffith, and other local stakeholders detailed the Comptroller’s impact on Mount Vernon residents, their demands for transparency and cooperation, and plans for holding Comptroller Reynolds accountable. An assembly of elected officials, community leaders and civil servants provided harrowing accounts of the Comptroller’s malfeasance, which has robbed vulnerable frontline workers of hard-earned overtime pay, cheated cash-strapped small businesses of their receivables, slowed city efforts to assist residents facing eviction and utility disconnection, prevented street repaving and hampered the City from purchasing life-saving firetrucks, ambulances, a police mobile command center, body cameras and making improvements to support its fiscal recovery efforts.

Mary Kingsley and Rey Hollingsworth, both realtors in Mount Vernon said that over the next 12 months more than 143 million dollars in home sales can be lost for Comptroller Reynolds failure to process property transfer taxes. This will amount to 1.43 million dollars lost in revenue to the City of Mount Vernon. Out of 50 title companies in the state we are down to only 2 who will do business with residents and realtors. CEO Amy Gelles of The Guidance Center of Westchester stated that her organization had to absorb over 250,000 dollars in rent payments for some of the cities most vulnerable residents due to the failure of Comptroller Reynolds to transfer federal funds to the Urban Renewal Agency(URA).

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For more than two years, City Comptroller Deborah Reynolds has operated above the purview of the City of Mount Vernon with impunity. She began her abuse of power by sealing off the financial and purchasing system (MUNIS) from the executive branch with an illegal firewall in her office, essentially operating as a rogue agency within City Hall administration.

Here are some of her most egregious actions:

● Failure to accept tax payments from residents for months. It takes months for these payments to be accepted and processed.

● Failure to process over 2.5 million dollars in unpaid invoices from vendors in Public Works going back to late 2017.

● Failed to process school taxes, causing the school district to take over the collection of school taxes and costing the City of Mount Vernon 600k+ in revenue.

● Refused to allow external auditors access to perform testing needed to complete the City’s 2016 audit, which will play a critical role in re-establishing our bond rating.

● Failed to provide financial reports to city officials for 35 months.

● Failed to process transfer taxes, which caused NYS title companies to send a letter threatening to stop doing business in Mount Vernon. This unprecedented action endangers local homeowners, buyers and realtors.

● Failed to follow legislation passed by City Council and Board of Contract & Estimate.

● Failure to disperse HUD/URA money in a timely manner.

● Failed to pay reimbursements for paving, holding up 2.7 million dollars in CHIPS money over an unpaid $370,000 bill from 2018.

● Failed to sign off the voucher for the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services GIVE grant for $220,000. We are currently awaiting reimbursement for $183,000 that we are set to lose because she won’t process.

● Failure to pay public safety personnel. Blocked the hiring of eleven firefighters in Oct/Nov 2019 because a family friend was not selected for the force. We now have eighteen vacancies and are dangerously below national fire standards.

● Failure to follow civil service law. She has refused to produce certified payroll and has been given 43 payroll exception notices that she has ignored. Additionally, she has refused to follow step increases for our civil services employees, many of whom are on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, for the last two years.

● Failure to comply with federal contract requirements related to 666 funds, which is a requirement of the US Department of Justice. She has refused to release these 666 funds desperately needed for the purchase of patrol vehicles, surveillance equipment and body cameras. In an age of police reform, these are critical tools needed to improve public safety.

● Failure to process payments and reimbursements has caused our Veterans Service Agency to lose its accreditation. Our nation’s heroes deserve so much more than to be insulted by the inaction of our Comptroller.

● Failure to accept funds owed and paid to the city. Turning away hundreds of thousands of dollars from revenue generating departments, including parking tickets, a $472k sewer bill in 2019 from the school district and money from PILOTS tax payments ($440,000) and various departmental revenues.

“Through her negligence and lack of transparency, Comptroller Reynolds has hampered the progress of Mount Vernon and exposed our residents to tremendous risk, says Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard. “With the very real threat of an impending COVID-19 second wave, we can’t afford another moment of her political machinations. We’re calling on the Comptroller to do her job and release the funds for the City to protect the people of Mount Vernon from the global pandemic.”

“As a strong advocate for Mt. Vernon I fight hard to ensure that state funding flows into our City.” says Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow. “It is not only disheartening but reprehensible to know that $2.7 million in paving funds and $400k in public safety funds are being held up by the Comptroller’s failure to work with City officials to pay bills and process paperwork. Cities across the state are seeing 20% reductions in State funding and we are re-capturing unspent grant monies. We cannot afford to lose funding or decrease essential services to Mount Vernon. Our residents deserve better.”

“In the midst of global pandemic, it is crucial that all Mount Vernon elected officials work together, says State Senator Jamaal T. Bailey. “The financial well-being of our city requires transparency and accountability by its leading fiscal officer. I urge Comptroller Reynolds to put any differences aside she may have and work with the Mayor and City Council to help the residents she serves. This is no time to neglect the needs of our city.

In the midst of a pandemic and widespread economic hardship, the Comptroller must put the people in the City of Mount Vernon first and fulfill her fiscal responsibilities immediately. If she is unwilling to do that, it is time for Governor Cuomo to step in and help Mount Vernon restore its finances and build back its integrity. The people of Mount Vernon cannot afford to wait any longer. We are past pretending that this issue does not exist and will go away on its own.” said NYS Senator Alessandra Biaggi (D34 — Bronx/Westchester)

Congressman-elect Jamaal Bowman said “At a time when Mount Vernon needs the support of their government more than ever, elected officials have a responsibility to step up and do our jobs in an exemplary manner. The people of Mount Vernon need relief now. I strongly urge the Comptroller to do what’s right for the people of Mount Vernon.”

“Like the Mayor, the City Council has had difficulty getting financial information from the Comptroller to move the City forward, says City Council President pro tem Marcus A Griffith. “This is a critical issue. We passed legislation to compel Comptroller Reynolds to release financial data, so far, she has not complied. Her disdain for the law is hurting the people of Mount Vernon and making it nearly impossible to both handle our current challenges and plan for the City’s future.”

“As elected officials, we agree to do the best we can for the city we serve, says Councilman Derrick Thompson. Her negligence is an affront to every single Mount Vernon resident. Our City needs and deserves real transparency and accountability from the Comptroller. This crisis of leadership must be resolved, or Mount Vernon residents will continue to suffer.”

“Our City is hurting due to the inaction of Comptroller Reynolds. Last night we almost lost our 911 system, which would’ve removed the ability for anyone to call for an emergency. All because the Comptroller hasn’t paid a maintenance bill, says Police Commissioner Glenn Scott. “This, along with over $850,000 in bills have remained unpaid. Public Safety is a critical need for Mount Vernon and Comptroller Reynolds is putting lives in danger by her refusal to do her job.”

“We almost lost an entire city block to a fire because the Comptroller refused to transfer money for a new aerial ladder truck, says Fire Commissioner Deborah Norman. “Thankfully, our neighbors in NYC allowed us to borrow a truck the day before and it helped save lives and property. Our department has been hampered by COVID-19 and as first responders, the Comptroller’s inaction is putting the lives of our firefighters at risk.”

“The Law Department has tried to work with the Comptroller’s office, but her refusal to cooperate with us has injured the city financially, says Brian Johnson, Mount Vernon’s Corporation Counsel. “The circular nature of her department, in which emails, letters, invoices are not processed timely is causing a serious financial burden. Furthermore, we have been unable to reconcile 2.4 million dollars in legal bills that appear to be on the city’s books.

Mount Vernon is fighting back against her unacceptable behavior and will soon have its day in court. The City is confident that the people will prevail. In the event that Comptroller Reynolds once again refuses to comply, we City officials will call on Attorney General Letitia James and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to intervene.

Watch the full press conference here: http://https://youtu.be/5QRX4VzMDX8

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Press Release: City of Mount Vernon issues Stay at Home Advisory Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases

November 13, 2020- As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in New York, the City of Mount Vernon has issued a Stay at Home advisory to protect residents and reduce the spread. In recent weeks, Mount Vernon has experienced a double-digit increase in daily COVID-19 cases. Our current active case count currently stands at 124 with 84 new cases added thus far in November. Therefore, the City of Mount Vernon strongly advises residents to stay inside their homes unless traveling for work, school, or essential needs. The Mount Vernon COVID-19 taskforce will continue to enforce social distancing regulations and shut down businesses that fail to follow COVID-19 guidelines s well as educating the public about the importance of wearing masks. The Stay at Home advisory goes into effect on Monday, November 16th.

This advisory follows the new order from Governor Andrew Cuomo ordering Bars, Restaurants, and Gyms to close at 10 pm and the public to significantly reduce the size of gathering. To report on COVID-19 issues contact 914-665-2626 or 914-665-2500.

We also urge residents to get tested at the Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center, Mount Vernon Hospital, or other medical facilities. As the city continues to address the COVID-19 outbreak, the cooperation of the public will be essential. We will take the necessary actions to protect Mount Vernon residents and continue to urge the use of face masks and social distancing protocols when appropriate. 

Proposals for the 2020 Emergency Solutions Grant Program

The City of Mount Vernon is requesting proposals for the 2020 Emergency Solutions Grant Program.
 
All Applicants Must Attend Pre-Application Workshops:
 
November 10, 2020,10:00am RSVP Here: bit.ly/esgworkshop1
 
Password to view Nov 10 Workshop – Passcode: 5&P7n0p
 
November 12, 2020, 3:00pm RSVP Here: bit.ly/esgworkshop2
 
Password to view Nov 12 Workshop:Passcode –  z!*^8Dh? 
 
Download the application here: bit.ly/esgapplication
 
The application must have the ESG Budget Tool
 
Upload your attachments too our ESG Submission Dropbox HERE
 
The City of Mount Vernon will conduct office hours (virtually) to provide applicants an opportunity to ask programmatic questions.
November 17, 2020, 11:00 a.m. RSVP Here: bit.ly/esghelp
 
For more information visit bit.ly/mvesggrant
NOTE: All bit.ly links are case sensitive.