ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) – Governor Kathy Hochul is tackling hate and social inequity in her State of the State address. She proposed several policies on Wednesday to help combat the problem across the state.

Establish a Hate and Bias Prevention Unit

The first policy she outlined was creating a Hate and Bias Prevention Unit. The unit will be housed in the Division of Human Rights (HDR) and will help communities deal with hate and bias issues.

The governor said there were more than 500 hate crimes in 2020 in New York, anti-Black and anti-Asian crimes in particular. This unit will help ease tensions in communities related to these issues.

One goal of the unit will be to act as an early detection system in communities and help educate and interact with residents to try to mitigate hate and bias issues. They will also have a team ready to respond to hate and bias incidents across the state. Their two broad initiatives are outlined below.

  • No Hate in Our State Council: This statewide Council would be organized by region, each headed by unit leadership and co-chaired by local stakeholders. The Council would provide a place for community members to share concerns, organize educational programming, host hate crime prevention and community healing events, conduct trainings in conflict resolution, and facilitate the filing of complaints with DHR and other relevant agencies. The Council would hold periodic meetings that would be open to the public and tailored to address specific local and regional issues.
  • Rapid Response Team: The unit’s Rapid Response Team will mobilize to communities impacted by a bias or hate incident. Once mobilized, the Rapid Response Team will participate in community healing and support, including through rallies, conflict resolution meetings, public education, referrals, and will facilitate the filing of complaints with relevant State agencies.

The governor also wants to fund a new seventh round of the Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes (SCAHC) grant program. This program boosts safety and security for organizations at-risk for hate crimes.

Expand benefits for victims of crimes

Currently, the reimbursement cap for Essential Personal Property is $500, something that hasn’t changed since 1998. The governor would like to amend the Office of Victim Services (OVS) statute to raise the cap from $500 to $2,500 to fall in line with rising inflation. The governor said that this will benefit all eligible victims of crimes including hate crimes and domestic violence-related crimes.

Promote equity and social justice in cannabis industry

The governor wants to make sure that the expected $4.2 billion cannabis industry creates opportunities for all New Yorkers, including historically marginalized communities. Hochul wants to create a $200 million dollar fund to support social equity applicants. The program will help applicants plan and build their businesses.

The fund will help New York achieve its goal to award 50% of all licenses to equity applicants, including individuals from impacted communities, minority- and women-owned businesses (MWBEs), distressed farmers, justice-involved individuals, and service-disabled veterans. Additionally, New York will create a State-run business incubator to further support equity applicants.