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We’re Tackling Questions on Rent, Jobs and Food Access at the Next Open Newsroom. Join Us

The nonprofit City Harvest set up a food bank at the Tompkins Houses in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.
The nonprofit City Harvest set up a food bank at the Tompkins Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, March 18, 2020.
Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

Last month, THE CITY held three Virtual Open Newsroom meetings designed to hear New Yorkers’ questions and concerns about rent, jobs and food access during the time of COVID-19.

More than 50 people had their say during the most recent sessions of our program with Brooklyn Public Library to make local news more collaborative. Here’s some of what we heard:

  • On tenants rights: “I live in a dorm for working women, where the residents are considered guests rather than tenants. And so, I’ve been wondering if and how that designation affects my ability to take advantage of the different legal protections that are typically afforded to tenants. And so, I have a lot of anxiety around that and a lot of questions.”
  • On the job search: “I think I’m just open to jobs that I haven’t been open to before, because I’m trying to figure out what types of companies are hiring.”
  • On accessing quality food: “I’ve been participating in a lot of Zoom and webinars about food insecurity and hunger and so on and what the different groups are trying to do… In my experience with schools, pre-COVID when there were food donations, all the kids are encouraged to bring food to give to people who need it, it’s all canned stuff, expired stuff.”

Meetings on Tap

Based on comments like these, we’ve put together a lineup of folks from organizations across the city to answer questions, share resources and shed some light on how to navigate issues related to renting, working and accessing food in New York City. Here are our next three sessions:

  • On Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 6 p.m. ET, we’re talking about rent and other tenant issues. Sign up here.
  • On Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 6 p.m. ET, we’re discussing working, finding work and navigating unemployment. Sign up here.
  • On Thursday, Aug. 13, at 6 p.m.ET, we’re coming together to answer questions and hear concerns about food access and insecurity. Sign up here.

Among the organizations joining us for this round of Open Newsrooms: Tenants & Neighbors, Legal Services NYC, Ridgewood Tenants Union, New Women New Yorkers and TakeRoot Justice.

We’re again teaming with Local Voices Network (LVN), a nonprofit whose mission is to foster conversation in communities and in the media.

How We Got Here

At last month’s meetings, we moved into small breakout Zoom rooms and asked participants to tell us five words that come to mind when they hear “rent,” “jobs” or “food.”

Then we asked attendees to associate a feeling with each of those five words. The activities spurred conversations about the challenges, concerns and curiosities of living in New York amid the pandemic. The Open Newsroom team analyzed the words and created “maps” depicting what people were saying and feeling about rent, jobs and food.

Here’s the map for rent:

Here’s the map for jobs:

Here’s the map for food:

At the center of each map is the topic of the conversation. From the center, you’ll notice the common keywords from our conversations. Building off of those are the feelings attendees listed.

From those words, you can get a sense of the conversations. For example: In the rent conversation, money was mentioned frequently and many folks said they were anxious, frustrated or confused by their recent experiences paying or negotiating rent.

This helped us pinpoint areas for The Open Newsroom to address next.

Help Us Shape the Agenda

If you have any questions you’d like to ask us ahead of time about rent, jobs or food access during the time of COVID, tell us here.

If you know of someone we should talk to who could help answer questions or provide resources for The Open Newsroom attendees about rent, jobs or food access, let us know here.

If you’ve missed any past meetings or have never visited The Open Newsroom, that’s not a problem. We design our sessions so that you don’t have to attend every one to know what’s going on.

Hope to see you there — and feel free to send this link to a friend.

If you have any questions, you can email us at opennewsroom@thecity.nyc or call/text 646-389-9289‬.

Reminder on upcoming meetings:

  • Rent and tenants’ issues on Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 6 p.m. Sign up here.
  • Working and unemployment on Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. Sign up here.
  • Accessing food on Thursday, Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. Sign up here.

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