Today we were proud to stand with Public Advocate Tish James, Council Member Jumaane Williams, Commissioner Loree Sutton, and Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis to mark the introduction of the bill we drafted and proposed last spring to amend NYC's human rights laws to include protections for veterans and military members. The bill's language has been updated to summarize this as "uniformed service," and express the most inclusive definition possible. We approved this change within the last few weeks, and we are proud to be part of moving this legislation forward. Below is the statement of Founding Director Kristen Rouse at today's press conference at City Hall:Read more
PROBLEM: New York State appears to offer a reduction in assessed property value for veteran homeowners, with rates between 15% and 25% based on wartime and combat service eligibility criteria. In New York City’s five boroughs, this results in eligible veteran homeowners being told they “only have to pay school tax.” Yet those tax rates have ballooned by more than 60% since 2003; the current school tax rate (which veterans must pay) is 11.5%. A 2013 NYS law, however, gives school districts the option of adopting the tax exemption for veterans, which NYC’s school district has not yet explored. Additionally, differences between property tax exemptions offered by NYS and NYC for veterans are confusing and difficult to understand.
PROPOSAL: The NYC Veterans Alliance proposes a working group to clarify existing NYS and NYC veterans property tax exemption policy and its impacts on qualifying NYC veteran homeowners and propose next steps to NYC and NYS officials to implement policies that achieve true tax relief for qualifying NYC veterans as intended by law.Read more
From our first policy agenda meeting last September to our Policy Design Workshop in December, follow-on group "Draft" workshops in January, and community responses to our 2016 surveys--it has been clear that veterans, military members, and their families are facing a wide range of challenges that can and must be addressed at the local level. But foundational to all of these issues is one key absence: veterans and military members are not included as protected categories of persons in NYC's human rights law.Read more
BREAKING!! Governor Cuomo has at last signed the Veterans Equality Act into law, rectifying NY State's pension system for veterans who have honorably served our nation in recent decades and across the globe. This comes after two vetoes and his office's lobbying against it. Our voices were heard, and we're proud to have been key players in this year's drive toward passing this legislation!
Governor Cuomo vetoed the Veterans Equality Act just before Veterans Day last year--the second year in a row after our state lawmakers passed near-unanimous, bipartisan bills to update New York's outdated and unfair rules for career civil servants to "buy back" up to three years of pension credit in exchange for their honorable military service. Right now he has a chance to remedy this--but will he fail us yet again?Read more
Another proud day for the NYC Veterans Alliance: we received our second bill-signing pen!
This morning, Mayor de Blasio signed yet another bill we've supported into law. This is the FIFTH local law that the NYC Veterans Alliance helped to push through since we started last year, and we were the only organization in the room who actively advocated for its passage.Read more
On Wednesday, January 13, the NYC Veterans Alliance presented testimony before the NYC Council Veterans Committee on the performance of the Veterans Advisory Board since reform legislation was passed in February 2015:Read more
On Thursday, December 10, veteran leaders and advocates from across NYC were invited to attend a ceremony aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, where Mayor Bill de Blasio at last signed into law the bill creating a NYC Department of Veterans Services (DVS).Read more
On December 14, 2015, the NYC Veterans Alliance testified in favor of the NYC Council Committee on Veterans resolutions in support of the Restore Honor to Service Members Act, which is federal legislation proposing to automatically upgrade adverse discharges for veterans for no other reason than homosexual conduct, and New York Restoration of Honor Act, which would automatically extend NY State benefits for honorably discharged veterans to those adversely discharged for homosexuality.Read more
Today First Lady Chirlane McCray is announcing the details of her Thrive NYC Roadmap for NYC mental health services. This was anticipated earlier this year, but at last comes with a number of initiatives—and among them, veteran-specific initiatives that are promising steps forward for NYC veterans, service members, and their families. We are pleased that the NYC Veterans Alliance had input in this important set of initiatives, and that some of our recommendations from earlier this year will at last be implemented.Read more