On August 8, 2017, the NYC Council Committee on Finance held a hearing on raising of the eligible income threshold for disabled and senior citizen homeowners qualifying for property tax exemption under the city's Disabled Homeowners Exemption and Senior Citizen Homeowners Exemption programs, of which many veterans take part.
Below is the testimony offered by our Director of Operations:
Good Morning, and thank you to Chair Ferreras-Copeland and committee members for the opportunity to testify today. My name is Olivia Meier, and I am here to offer testimony on behalf of the NYC Veterans Alliance, a member-supported, grassroots policy advocacy and empowerment organization serving veterans, servicemembers, and their families across the New York City metropolitan area.
Affordable housing is a top priority of our membership, and like other New Yorkers, veterans and their families are struggling to find affordable housing as young veterans returning to New York City to use their GI Bill educational benefits while attending one of our world-class colleges and universities—or as retired veterans living on fixed incomes, many of them suffering from wounds and illnesses directly connected to their service to our nation. We’ve heard from veterans and families about the discrimination they’ve faced from landlords based on their real or perceived disability status, or because of their service as a member of the guard or reserve—and we are proud that the Council addressed that discrimination with the unanimous passage of Introduction 1259 last June.
We’ve further urged the Council to make changes wherever permissible to keep veterans and families in their homes, whether it be through the tax exemption for veteran homeowners also adopted by the Council this year, or now the important raising of the eligible income threshold for disabled and senior citizen homeowners qualifying for property tax exemption under this preconsidered introduction. It is vital that the City’s Administrative Code keep up with the rising cost of living for our most vulnerable New Yorkers, and to provide tax relief wherever possible so we can keep those who have worked and struggled and given of themselves to make our city great are able to remain stable in their homes. Raising this threshold will qualify many aging and disabled veterans and their families for needed tax relief, easing their financial burden and making it that more possible for them to remain stable in their homes and in the city they’ve served and sacrificed for.
We urge this Committee to adopt this needed change, and to continue their work to make housing more affordable for all who work to make this city great. On behalf of the NYC Veterans Alliance, I thank you for the opportunity to testify today. Pending your questions, this concludes my testimony.