On Thursday, December 8th, the NYC Veterans Alliance presented testimony at a joint hearing of the NYC Council Committee on Veterans and the Committee on Finance regarding Introduction 1304, which would amend the Alternative Tax Exemption for veterans to include exemption of NYC school taxes for eligible veterans. Below is the testimony of Kristen Rouse:
My name is Kristen Rouse. I am a veteran of the United States Army, I served three tours of duty with the Army in Afghanistan, and I live in Brooklyn. I am testifying on behalf of the more than 220 dues-paying members of the NYC Veterans Alliance.
Affordable housing is a top concern for all New Yorkers, but when we discuss veteran housing in particular—we’re often told to stand in line. Yet going back to the veterans who came home from World War II, veteran reintegration and housing have been intimately linked. Veterans returning home to New York City didn’t just have the G.I. Bill assurances of an education and guaranteed home loan—they also had more than 11,000 apartments in Peter Cooper Village built specifically for veterans and their families to give them the baseline stability they needed to get back to work and build this city’s economy and livelihood as what we now call the Greatest Generation. Yet since that tremendous investment for veterans—and its even greater payoff for New York City and America—our city just hasn’t made the same investment in its veterans.
We drafted and proposed this resolution in May in support of the bill that originated with our member, Kristofer Goldsmith and his DC-based nonprofit, High Ground Veterans Advocacy. It was introduced by Councilman Andy King earlier this month. The resolution urges Congress to pass, and the President to sign into law, the Fairness for Veterans Act of 2016, which would mandate a fair review process for veterans discharged administratively under less-than-honorable conditions, often for circumstances stemming from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, or sexual assault. Watch highlights of the hearing here:
On Friday, October 28, 2016, the NYC Veterans Alliance presented testimony at a hearing of the NYC Council Committee on Veterans regarding Resolution 1196, urging Congress to pass, and the President to sign into law, the Fairness for Veterans Act of 2016. Below is the testimony delivered by Kristen Rouse:Read more
New York State offers 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 gave school districts the option of adopting the tax exemption for veterans, but that didn't include provisions for NYC to adopt this law. On September 29, 2016, Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill that finally permits the NYC Council to adopt the school tax exemption for NYC's veteran homeowners, which would provide significant relief.Read more
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
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!
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