Standing Up for Veteran Street Vendors
Today's NYC Council Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing held a hearing on three different bills proposing to restrict access of street vendors around the World Trade Center and downtown Flushing, as well as a ban on a certain type of char-broiler used by food vendors. Details of the hearing and these bills are HERE.
As part of our 2018 Action Agenda, we are continuing to speak up for veteran street vendors. We were unable to attend today's hearing, but submitted the following letter to the committee:Read more
Wins for Veterans & Families in FY 2019 City Budget
Today the NYC Council released the finalized Fiscal Year 2019 Budget for the City of New York, which contains important wins for veterans and families! Here are the highlights:
NYC Veterans Alliance Members Lead Advocacy for Voting Reform
On Tuesday, May 8th, NYC Veterans Alliance joined with the NYC Campaign Finance Board and more than 100 advocates with the Vote Better NY Coalition to advocate for vital reforms to bring New York State's voting laws into the 21st century.
Five of our members served as team captains, leading meetings with NYS legislators and staff on a busy day in Albany. Our member Troy Olson spoke eloquently at our press conference in the Capitol's stairway:Read more
NYC Veterans Alliance Efforts Lead to National Proposal
Building on the progress we made last year to enshrine protections for veterans and military members in NYC law with passage of Local Law 119-2017, NYC Veterans Alliance today stood in support of a new bill being introduced by Congressman Joe Crowley (NY-14) to protect student veterans using GI Bill benefits from housing discrimination nationwide.
We gathered for a press conference at the stunning Bronx Victory Memorial in Pelham Bay Park, which commemorates the troops from the Bronx who lost their lives in World War I. Joining Rep. Crowley was NY State Assembly Member Mike Benedetto, Assembly Member Nathalia Fernandez, Council Member Mark Gjonaj, and members of the NYC Veterans Alliance.
Dubbed the "Students LIVE (Live Irrespective of Veterans Educational Assistance) Act," Rep. Crowley's bill proposes to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to prohibit discrimination against veterans on the basis of their VA educational benefits as their source of income. We fully support this legislation as a national extension of protections we worked to emplace here in NYC, and it advances the policy priorities set forth by our members for this year.
A Successful March to City Hall Week!
Thanks to all who participated in making our March to City Hall Week a great success! March to City Hall Week is the premier civic leadership event of the NYC Veterans Alliance, mobilizing our membership as speakers and advocates committed to making NYC the best city in the country for veterans and their families. Members and staff advocated for our 2018 Action Agenda, a detailed list of policy solutions we are pressing our NYC Council Members, NY State delegation, and Congressional delegation to take action on.Read more
Holding the NYC Department of Veterans' Services Accountable
On Monday, October 2, the NYC Council held an oversight hearing on the NYC Department of Veterans' Services (DVS). We offered testimony assessing the progress and budget of DVS for FY 2017 and the current FY 2018 budget year. Despite much needed and encouraging growth, our overall assessment is that this richly funded agency has demonstrated disappointing lapses in its basic responsibilities and is as yet failing to fully deliver on programs that highly paid staff have been working to deliver for many months.
For specifics, please see the testimony below of our Founding Director.Read more
Reduction of Critical Services at Brooklyn VA Medical Center?
An alarming business plan to reduce critical services for veterans at the Brooklyn VA Medical Center (VAMC) is being circulated amongst the NYC veterans community this week, and we urge our community and elected officials to take note and voice concern.
In the business plan, the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System proposes to change its Brooklyn campus surgery office from “Complex” to “Ambulatory Advanced,” stating that the current Brooklyn inpatient surgical cases can be accommodated at the Manhattan VAMC without affecting access to care or wait times. This effectively ends surgical services at the Brooklyn VAMC. The business plan is signed by NYHHS Director Martina Parauda, with an implementation date of July 1, 2017. It is unclear how much of the plan has been implemented to date.
Recent contraction of VA services in Brooklyn has already been very concerning. In 2015, the Brooklyn VAMC closed a 25-bed inpatient wing because it was too expensive to staff and keep open, despite outcry from Staten Island and Brooklyn veterans who rely on the Brooklyn VAMC. Last year, the Harbor Healthcare System closed an outpatient facility on Chapel Street in Downtown Brooklyn, which many underserved veterans relied on for a sense of community as well as meals and ongoing healthcare. Patients were assured that there would be regular shuttle bus service to bring them to Manhattan, but we’ve heard anecdotally that those shuttle buses were not adequate to provide Brooklyn patients with access to the Manhattan VAMC.Read more
Supporting Transgender Veterans & Troops
When we founded the NYC Veterans Alliance just two years ago, we committed to the inclusion of ALL veterans--we leave no veterans behind. We've stood in defense of veterans with bad paper. We've stood up for lesbian, gay, and bisexual veterans who were unjustly discharged. And last week we stood up for the transgender troops who are serving honorably across the world, as well as the countless numbers of transgender veterans who deserve recognition and respect for their service to our nation.Read more
NYC’s 2018 Budget – What’s In It For Veterans?
After negotiation with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, the NYC Council announced today that the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget is now finalized.
Earlier this year we set a Spring Agenda that included protecting and increasing NYC's budget for veterans, and adoption of a needed exemption from rising school taxes for veteran homeowners. We're both proud and grateful to our members and allies who helped us achieve results for our community.
Take a look at what's in the new budget for veterans, which will take effect on July 1, 2017:Read more
A Win on the Veterans Alternative Tax Exemption!
A key piece of our Spring Policy Agenda was inclusion of the Alternative (School Tax) Exemption for Veterans in the city's budget for Fiscal Year 2018--and we're proud to announce that this was included in the final $85 billion budget deal reached by the Mayor and NYC Council last Friday evening!
Thanks to our member, Vietnam veteran, longtime advocate, and proud Staten Islander Lee Covino for leading the charge on this. Thanks to everyone who lobbied with us this spring, who rallied with us at the "Love Our Veterans" Rally on Valentine's Day, who testified and rallied and supported this legislative effort last December, who called and wrote letters to their representatives last fall, and who initially met with us at our stakeholder meeting on this important issue last July.
Special thanks to Council Member Steven Matteo for leading on this in NYC Council and his continuous advocacy for the more than 58,000 veteran homeowners who will now be entitled to long overdue tax relief.Read more