The Weekly WrapThe Weekly Wrap

The Weekly Wrap: Climate Disasters Could Worsen The Debt Crisis

Also: Mayor Eric Adams preempts public review for homeless shelters amid the asylum crisis.

An artist's rendition of a tornado destroying a structure. (Photo by NOAA / Unsplash)

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Welcome to The Weekly Wrap, our round up of stories that explain the problems oppressing people in cities and elevate the solutions bringing us closer to economic, environmental and social justice.

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Climate Catastrophe Could Create Debt Disaster

According to Grist, climate catastrophe could impact federal finances if President Biden can’t strike a deal with Republicans on raising the debt limit. This is because the IRS delayed tax payments in about a dozen states that recently experienced climate disasters. These disasters, which include Hurricane Ian as well as droughts and heat waves on the west coast, cost the country $165 billion in 2022 alone, not counting delayed tax revenue. The country relies heavily on borrowing to balance its books rather than tax revenue. Because the country may face a self-imposed limit on borrowing if Biden is unable to reach a deal, “the fate of the global economy depends on how much cash the Treasury receives over the next few weeks,” according to Grist.

The government could access a quarterly tax filing in mid-June, but it may not have enough money to get there if May’s tax filings are far below normal, which may be the case thanks to the aforementioned disasters and tax extensions.

Republicans have forced a negotiation on the debt limit in an effort to drastically reduce spending, including on the IRS and on measures to curb climate change.

Mayor Eric Adams Preempts Public Review For Emergency Shelters

New York City Mayor Eric Adams issued an executive order on Monday preempting the city’s public hearing process for land use review, specifically exempting review for the creation or expansion of new homeless shelters to address an influx of migrants, Gothamist reports. Public hearings for new homeless shelters generally lead to vocal opposition.

The mayor’s office says it has opened 150 new emergency sites, including 150 “emergency relief centers” to deal with the migrant crisis. The city suspended its regular public hearing process for all of those emergency centers and will do the same for new homeless shelters that used to address the influx. The executive order lasts only five days but can be renewed.

Cost To Make Baltimore Accessible Would Exceed $650 million

According to The Baltimore Banner, it would cost $657 million to make Baltimore’s streets, curbs and sidewalks compliant with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. That’s what the city estimated when it applied for American Rescue Plan funding from the federal government in 2021; despite the estimate, officials only requested $45 million worth of funding to fix corridors within one eighth of a mile from transit stops. Baltimore city officials have allocated $16 million in COVID-19 relief funds for mobility infrastructure improvements in the 2024 fiscal year, but those funds could still be cut, according to the Banner.

The city is facing a few lawsuits: the organization Disability Rights Maryland filed a class action complaint against the mayor and city council in 2021 alleging that they had not done enough politically to make the city’s streets ADA compliant, and the parties are in mediation. The organization also filed a complaint with the Department of Justice regarding staff shortages and service disruptions at the state’s paratransit agency, MobilityLink.

Mississippi No Longer Requires Mothers To Sue For Child Support

The Mississippi Department of Human Services has dropped a requirement that mothers sue the father of their child for child support as a prerequisite for qualifying for child support payments, Mississippi Today reports. It was one of only 13 states that still had such a requirement.

The change, which Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves was able to implement without legislative action, comes after 20 years of advocacy to drop the burdensome requirement. “This policy deterred many single moms from applying for many valid reasons, ranging from informal payment agreements being jeopardized by court interference to avoiding abusive interactions,” Carol Burnett, advocate and executive director of the Mississippi Low Income Childcare Initiative, told Mississippi Today.

New York City Library Cuts Could Impact Asylum Seekers

While Mayor Adams reversed the worst of his cuts on public libraries, they still face a $36 million shortfall in his executive budget. City Limits reports that many of those services would impact unhoused people as well as the influx of asylum-seekers who’ve recently arrived to the city. The cuts include $20.5 million announced last fall as well as $15.7 million in city council funding.

Public libraries have an array of services that could be helpful for people with no fixed address or on low income: in addition to offering literacy classes and computer and Wi-Fi access, some of the city’s libraries launched their own initiatives, including a community fridge and an effort to distribute hygiene kits. Library workers and advocates held a rally on Thursday, ahead of a city council budget hearing on the cuts.


Compiled by Deonna Anderson

MORE NEWS

  • New Yorkers can vote for how to spend $5 million. The effort is part of a participatory budgeting process that has happened at the Council district level in the past and has now expanded citywide. City residents aged 11 or older can vote online or in person through June 25. Gothamist

  • The Black Farmer Fund is investing $20 million to help Black farmers in the Northeast thrive. The support will come in the form of tools, training, and cash. Civil Eats

  • The PDX Housing Solidarity Project is making wealth redistribution a reality through real estate. The group “helps connect people with ample resources to Black and Indigenous homebuyers in Portland.” OPB

  • Rural America is getting nearly $11 billion for electrification. The Agriculture Department is starting the awards process for the cash, which came from “two pots of money enacted in the Inflation Reduction Act.” E&E News

EVENTS

  • Oregon Humanities is hosting a conversation about borders and divides. Here are some questions they plan to answer: “Why are our borders in the places they are, and when should they be redrawn? When are borders useful, and when are they symbolic? Should borders be based on geography, history, culture, or some other criteria?” Tuesday, May 23 at 7pm Pacific / 10pm Eastern. Learn more and register here.

  • Our very own Oscar Perry Abello will be part of a panel discussion about sourcing solutions stories about community ownership, wealth, and labor. The conversation is moderated by the Solutions Journalism Network and other panelists include Ashton Lattimore, editor-in-chief of Prism, and Aria Jougin, a researcher, organizer, and strategist who networks throughout the country on economic democracy issues. Moderated by the Solutions Journalism Network, Thursday, May 25 at 11 a.m. Pacific / 2 p.m. Eastern. Register here!

  • Plus, check out Next City’s upcoming events here.

This article is part of The Weekly Wrap, a newsletter rounding up stories that explain the problems oppressing people in cities and elevate the solutions bringing us closer to economic, environmental and social justice. Click here to subscribe to The Weekly Wrap newsletter.

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Roshan Abraham is Next City's housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities fellow. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.

Tags: climate changehomelessnesslibrarieschildcareaccessibility

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