MinKwon's Response to COVID-19

Last reviewed August 20, 2021


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Dear MinKwon Community:



In response to state and city reopening plans, the MinKwon Center has updated our COVID-19 response with our new Business Safety Plan that seeks to expand our operations and capacity while keeping our staff, clients, community members, and Flushing safe.



Your health and wellbeing comes first, so we encourage you to keep yourself informed with the latest information on COVID-19 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), New York Dept. of Health, and NYC Dept. of Health.



Below is important information from our Business Safety Plan, specifically in regard to our physical location, public health guidelines, and staff and visitor health & wellbeing. Below are also important updates on how COVID-19 continues to impact our social services, immigration services, housing services, and civic participation.



MinKwon's Physical Location



MinKwon Center's physical location is open by appointment ONLY. All visitors must have a scheduled appointment with a staff member before they arrive. Walk-in services are not be available until further notice. MinKwon's doors are physically closed to the public, so please do not come to the office unless you have an appointment.



We ask that if community members are feeling unwell on the day of their scheduled appointment to call MinKwon as soon as possible so that we can reschedule their appointment.



The MinKwon Center will continue to be accessible by email (minkwon@minkwon.org) and phone (718-460-5600). Our staff are continuing to work remotely as much as possible and will be at our physical location for appointments and necessary in-person work only. Community members can continue to receive assistance remotely and schedule an appointment with a staff member if an in-person appointment is absolutely necessary.



Apart from scheduled appointments, our physical location will remain CLOSED to the public and all in-person events and volunteer opportunities CANCELED until further notice.



Public Health Guidelines



Staff and visitors should adhere to all state and local public health guidelines while inside our physical location. Masks or face coverings are REQUIRED upon entry and throughout the duration of appointments. Staff and visitors should remain six feet apart from each other as much as possible.



To promote social distancing, our waiting area has been modified with seating six feet apart from each other, and all appointment rooms have been modified with new seating arrangements and capacity limits to encourage a six feet distance between staff and visitors.



Keeping a clean and sanitary workplace promotes public health. Prior to July 6, 2020, our physical location has been professionally cleaned and disinfected. Staff will have increased responsibility to regularly clean and disinfect all common areas, especially high-touch surfaces, appointment rooms, and shared workspaces. Soap and hand sanitizer will be available for staff and visitors to wash and disinfect their hands regularly.



Staff and Visitor Health & Wellbeing



The health and wellbeing of our staff is our highest priority. All staff will be regularly tested for COVID-19 and their health monitored to ensure that they are healthy to and from our physical location. Shared workspaces have been modified and new scheduling policies are in place to prevent overcrowding. Staff will be provided with masks, face shields, and other personal protective equipment (PPE), or have the option to use their own.



The health and wellbeing of our communities is also our highest priority. Visitors will take mandatory health assessments before the start of their appointments. Any New Yorker may get a free COVID-19 test without needing an appointment or insurance: visit the NYC Dept. of Health website to find a participating clinic near you.



We have policies in place to effectively respond to the event of a staff member or visitor testing positive for COVID-19. In the event of exposure, we would close our physical location and work with impacted staff, visitors, and public health officials to enact contract tracing and other measures to identify and contain community spread.

Social Services



All NYC public benefits remain in effect. If you receive Food Stamps (SNAP), WIC, SCRIE, HEAP, or other public benefits, your status or benefits will NOT change because of COVID-19. The NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) offices remain open, and if you have an in-person appointment with HRA, you may reschedule it or have it transferred to a phone appointment. Call the MinKwon Center at 718-460-5600 if you have questions about your status, or if you need assistance to apply for public benefits.



We are continuing to provide remote assistance in enrolling in health insurance through the NY State of Health. New Yorkers without health insurance or who have lost their health insurance (i.e. due to unemployment) can apply through NY State of Health through the end of 2020. You must apply within 60 days of losing coverage.



If you have an urgent need for food, medicine, or rental assistance, there are resources that may help. If you are a low-income and/or immigrant resident in Flushing, call the MinKwon Center to submit a request for support through our Flushing Mutual Aid Fund. Find your local food pantry or soup kitchen with this online map, or call the Emergency FoodLine at 1-866-888-8777.



Immigration Services



After a temporary pause, we have resumed accepting new Naturalization, Green Card Renewal, and Removal of Conditions cases. Please call the MinKwon Center at 718-460-5600 or email us (immigration@minkwon.org) and we will provide remote assistance with your immigration applications.



U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) application support centers will reopen on JULY 13, 2020, and field offices will reopen later in the month. They will schedule appointments with priority for those whose initial appointments were cancelled due to COVID-19. There will be no walk-in appointments. If you had an appointment with USCIS during the timeframe of New York Governor Cuomo's NY on PAUSE Executive Order, it will automatically be rescheduled and you should receive a notice with a new date.



All immigration deadlines remain in effect until notice is given by the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) and USCIS. Please do NOT assume the deadlines to your immigration applications and cases have changed until you receive a notice by DHS/USCIS. If you have an active immigration case, please check its status as your court date may have been POSTPONEDThe nondetained cases are postponed, which means that if you are currently not in immigration detention, your court date may change. Contact the MinKwon Center if we are assisting you with an active case.



The New York State Office of New Americans hotline (1-800-566-7636) remains in effect. The hotline provides free consultation and referrals to New Yorkers across the state and we recommend it as a trusted community resource.



According to USCIS, Public Charge will NOT apply to immigrants who receive testing, treatment, or preventative care for COVID-19. Certain Green Card and visa applicants can be assured that any healthcare they receive for COVID-19 will not be used against their case eligibility, even if the care they receive is publicly funded.

Housing Services



Housing Court in all five boroughs is open as of JUNE 20, 2020, meaning landlords may begin filing new eviction cases. However, all evictions are still suspended until at least JULY 31, 2021. If you receive court notices or papers, you do not need to visit the courthouse to respond. Your court papers must include information about how to respond by phone and how to access free legal help. At this time, and until further notice, the court will not be defaulting tenants who fail to respond to court papers. Call the MinKwon Center at 718-460-5600 if you have been issued court papers and need assistance.



You may be protected from having an eviction case filed against you at this time if you are covered by the federal CARES Act moratorium or New York Governor Cuomo’s NY on PAUSE Executive OrderThe Federal CARES Act moratorium prohibits evictions of tenants in public housing, those with Section 8 rental vouchers, or who live in buildings with federally backed mortgages or funding until JULY 24, 2020. The Governor’s Executive Order suspends evictions for tenants who are eligible for unemployment insurance or benefits, or who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 until at least MAY 1, 2021.



You may be eligible for emergency Cash Assistance to cover rent or utilities. Also known as "One Shot" deals, Cash Assistance may be applied for at any time but may be especially helpful during COVID-19. Visit a HRA Job Center to apply, or you can apply online on the HRA website if you already have an active Cash Assistance case. Call 311 to find your local Job Center, or call the MinKwon Center for assistance.