By Bill Parry
After the murder of NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia, assassinated in a July 5 shooting in the Bronx, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) was inspired to draft legislation that would provide financial assistance to the spouse and the dependents of police officers, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel killed in the line of duty.
Peralta introduced his “Familia Bill” last week that would establish a fund to provide up to $1,000 per month to help offset rent or mortgage payments for eligible families.
“First respondents risk their lives on a daily basis to protect and assist us in case of an emergency. When tragedy strikes them, we must ensure we take care of the survivors of our fallen heroes by providing them with additional benefits,” Peralta said. “Under the ‘Familia Bill,’ family members of officers, firefighters and emergency medical services officers can breathe easily knowing that they will be able to take care of their housing financial obligations. The Police Officer, Firefighter, and Emergency Medical Services Family Housing Fund will supplement the forms of assistance received by the family members of fallen heroes, including pension benefits and life insurance payments. It is a gap in benefits where family members end up turning, at times, to private and non-profit organizations with no guarantees, potentially leaving victims’ loved ones with no safety net.”
The legislation intends to award monthly payments up to a maximum of 10 years. The state would appropriate $10 million to the fund that would be administered by the state comptroller.
“When police officers, firefighters or EMTs die protecting their fellow New Yorkers, their families are left with a double burden:the pain of losing a wife, husband, mother or father, and the practical challenge of carrying on without their loved one’s financial support,” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said. “This bill is a good first step towards repaying our sacred debt to the families of the fallen.”
Peralta also announced state funding for six Queens Library branches in his district, presenting a check for $60,000 Tuesday to Queens Library President Dennis Walcott in LeFrak City. The funds will be used to cover the costs of programs and classes offered at branches in Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst, Corona and Elmhurst.
“Nearly 2 million people come through the doors of the six libraries in Senator Peralta’s district each year,” Walcott said. “There is a clear demand for our resources and programs at these locations, and we are grateful to him for helping to ensure that we meet it.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr