During his time in Queens as part of “City Hall in Your Borough” week, Mayor Bill de Blasio took to Glen Oaks to discuss tax breaks for seniors.
Residents of North Shore Towers, a gated co-op community near the Queens/Nassau border, assembled in the Towers on the Green on July 20 for the mayor’s remarks. In front of a large board reading “Still Your City,” de Blasio informed the full crowd of attendees about funding recently allocated to provide deeper property tax breaks for seniors.
“We know all over the city, all over the country, a lot of folks who reached the middle class are now finding it hard to stay in the middle class and to live the kind of lifestyle they deserve,” the mayor said. “And that’s where we have to come in and do more and more to help people out and help make peoples’ lives better.”
Under the current legislation, senior or disabled homeowners who make up to $37,400 are eligible for property tax relief. Under the newly proposed bill, seniors or disabled individuals who make up to $58,400 in household income would be eligible for the tax break.
The “pro-Queens legislation,” as de Blasio called it, will reach 32,000 senior households, with one-third that number hailing from Queens. The average benefit per year is $1,750.
“I’ve heard from seniors … still struggling, making tough choices between what they have pay for housing, for medicine, for food. All the basics. We want to lighten that burden,” de Blasio said.
The bill passed in Albany and is now awaiting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature.
“I’m very hopeful that the governor is going to sign it because there are thousands of seniors who will benefit,” he said.
NYC Department for the Aging Commissioner Donna Corrado applauded the move.
“This is all about a tax break for middle-class seniors, who have worked hard their entire lives, to help them remain in their communities, in their apartments and help them age in place,” she said. “It’s putting money back in their pockets.”
The mayor, joined by local elected officials including Councilman Barry Grodenchik, Assemblyman Edward Braunstein and Assemblyman David Weprin, also took time to compliment the North Shore Towers community.
“This place is kind of legendary, I have to tell you, as the epitome of a middle-class community that works,” de Blasio said. “I know there are people here who brought up their families here, and stayed, and have loved every moment of it. This is tight-knit community. This is a wonderful community. And it’s, to me, a real pleasure to be with you.”
Rita Engel, a resident at North Shore Towers for 10 years, said she hopes the mayor sticks to his word on the tax breaks, as well as his promise to reform the property tax system, should he be reelected.
“I’d also like to see the city put a priority on transit,” Engel said. “I have adult children that use the railroad. I’d like to see more protection, more police.”
Friend Sandy Rosenblatt, a resident of four years, agreed with Engel. She said there also needs to be more transit options for people with disabilities.
“I have two handicapped children,” Rosenblatt said. “Nassau County’s [transit] is wonderful, but the city hasn’t risen to the occasion.”