Queens Lawmakers On The Move July 18, 2018

Queens County City Council News

Ulrich, Vallone Rally Around PA James’ Veterans Legislation

City Council Member Eric Ulrich
City Council Member Paul Vallone

City Council Members Eric Ulrich (R) and Paul Vallone (D) yesterday rallied around Public Advocate Letitia James‘ announced legislation to protect New York City veterans from predatory for-profit colleges and help them access safe, legitimate educational options and financing.

Ulrich (Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Ozone Park, Rockaway Beach, Rockaway Park, South Ozone Park, Woodhaven) and Vallone (Alley Pond Park, Bay Terrace, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, East Elmhurst, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck, Whitestone) are among the co-sponsors of the measure, which comes days after the FBI released the details of an investigation that uncovered a scheme to defraud thousands of student veterans seeking higher education.

This legislation mandates that DVS, in consultation with the Department of Consumer Affairs, establish an outreach and education program to teach veterans about financial issues pertaining to higher education, identifying fraudulent colleges, and determining quality and inexpensive alternatives.

Additionally, it provides information on accessing government programs, reducing student debt, affordable housing, and secure student loan repayment options.

James also called on the city to significantly increase funding for the Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS), the agency charged with providing our returning service members with the help and support they need to overcome the incredible challenges of returning to civilian life.

While DVS has already seen significant expansion since it first became an independent agency in 2016, its current budget of $4.6 million and staff of 35 employees means just $21.82 in funding for every veteran they are charged with serving and one employee for every 6,023 veterans living in the city.

Hevesi Leads Coalition Calling on Cuomo to Sign Legislation Creating Shelters for Survivors of Human Trafficking

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills, Rego Park, Richmond Hill, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Ridgewood, and Middle Village) thanked Human Trafficking Survivors, State Senators, State Assembly Members, New York City Council Members, and Not-For-Profit Organizations that held a press conference last week urging Governor Cuomo to sign into law S.8305/A.9566, establishing “culturally competent” short-term safe house residential facilities and long-term safe house residential facilities and services for survivors of human trafficking. 

Hevesi, chair of the assembly’s Standing Committee on Social Services, sponsored the measure on the assembly side, which would also see these safe houses offer specific services including case management, health care, mental health counseling, drug addiction screening and treatment, language interpretation and translation services. They would also offer English language instruction, job training and placement assistance, post-employment services for job retention, and services to assist the victim and their family members establish permanent residency. 

“A huge thank you to the brave survivors of human trafficking who shared their personal stories and spoke out today about the need for Governor Cuomo to sign S.8305/A.9566 into law. This legislation, which has unanimously passed both houses of the legislature, will provide culturally competent shelters and services for the hundreds of others who are trafficked in New York State every year,” said Hevesi.

Nolan Calls On City & State  To Help Citylights Residents With Tax Bill

Assembly Member  Catherine Nolan

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Astoria, Woodside, Long Island City, Maspeth, Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Dutch Kills, Blissville) yesterday called on the city and state officials to ease the tax crunch on residents of Citylights, Queens’ largest affordable co-op.

Residents of the 522-unit, 42-story co-op and rental building on 48th Avenue in Long Island City saw a 20-year tax abatement phased out July 1, and the city recently increasing its assessed value by nearly 100%.

“Over the last four years, I have advocated for a resolution to this very serious problem. Representatives from city and state agencies must come up with a solution to help the residents of Citylights. An 87% increase in the assessed value is simply unacceptable” said “NYS and the Queens West Development Corporation have proposed a possible resolution but New York City and the Department of Finance need to either support it or put forward their own proposal. 

“It is my understanding that the state and the city have proposed an individual tax abatement program for the residents of Citylights but the NYC Department of Finance has still not signed off on this proposal. In addition, we are still awaiting a further review of the excessive valuation of the building.

“I urge Mayor de Blasio and the NYC Department of Finance to act favorably so we can start to bring real relief to the co-op owners of Citylights. They have been treated unfairly, promises made when they first moved into Long Island City must be kept. Not resolving this hurts our community. 

“As the elected representative of this district I stand totally and completely with my neighbors, the residents of Citylights and pledge all my efforts to resolving this unfortunate and unfair situation.” Nolan said.