State Assemblyman David Weprin and southeast Queens residents are calling on the New York City Department of Finance to grant Queens homeowners much-needed property tax relief.
Weprin rallied with community activists and representatives from the Queens Village Civic Association, the Guy R. Brewer United Democratic Club, St. Albans Civic Improvement Association, SEQLegalNYC and New York Community for Change at Haggerty Park in Hollis on Sunday, July 11.
The assemblyman stressed the hardships homeowners faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the city still in the early stages of recovering from the devastation caused by the pandemic, protecting Queens residents from possible eviction is more important than ever. At the start of the pandemic, Weprin protected homeowners by introducing and passing legislation in the New York State Assembly to postpone the tax lien sale.
According to Weprin, now is the time to relieve the property tax burden placed on working-class families and communities of color in Queens.
“For families who have lost loved ones, experienced emotional distress or financial devastation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, now is not the time to saddle them with the additional hardship of rising property taxes. The property tax burden threatens the opportunity for homeownership among hard-working, middle-class families in Queens. The current property tax system is in need of reform and I call on the Department of Finance to provide relief now,” Weprin said.
Preston Baker, Assembly District 29 leader and executive leader of the Guy R. Brewer United Democratic Club, said they simply want what is right and what is fair.
“Our community stands together in this fight and we want the rest of New York to do the right thing when it comes to southeast Queens because this has been a burden our community has dealt with far too long,” Baker said. “We can’t afford it any longer. We are still recovering from the effects of COVID-19. We need a fair assessment and we need relief!”
Baker thanked Weprin, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, state Senator Leroy Comrie, Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman, and Council members I. Daneek Miller and Adrienne Adams for standing with the community on the property tax issue.
In New York City, property taxes in majority-minority communities are over assessed by almost $1.7 billion every year, according to Jason Clark, Esq., co-founder of SEQLegalNYC, an organization that provides residents and small businesses in southeast Queens with access to legal resources.
“If we don’t do something to cure the disparities in our property tax system, more and more homeowners in the working-class communities are going to struggle to pay their mortgage and, ultimately, lose their homes. We’ve got to do something now before it’s too late,” Clark said.
Asim Deen, of the Queens Village Civic Association, said they’re rallying to stop the increase to property taxes and, better yet, ask for relief as they recover from COVID-19.
“This will lead to foreclosure and loss of property, especially affecting our senior citizens living on fixed incomes. We believe there is enough money in the state and city budget and enough money to correct the tax code to make it more equitable,” Deen said.
Oster Bryan, of the St. Albans Civic Improvement Association, said they now have the chance to start fresh and hopes the new leadership in the City Council will address the issue.
“We pay more taxes even with lower income home evaluations than our counterparts and somehow they can’t seem to fix this problem in the tax code,” Bryan said. “It’s a failure.”
Community organizer Harold Miller said, “We have to fight back and make sure we have a fair and equitable system for all,” while making sure assessments are valued fairly.