NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York City homeowners whose property was seriously damaged by Superstorm Sandy are getting a break on property taxes.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced Thursday that some homeowners will receive an interest-free extension on the next bill from Jan. 1 to April 1.
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“We are working to help the thousands of New Yorkers displaced by Hurricane Sandy, and those who suffered severe damage face a long period of uncertainty and considerable expense in making decisions about rebuilding and returning to their homes,” said Bloomberg. “We want to do all that we can to ease their heavy burdens.”
Mayor Bloomberg visited a Staten Island restoration center on Thursday afternoon, where many displaced residents were gathered looking for information.
“We lost the home and the cars and right now, we finally got into a motel and the motel is telling us that FEMA only approved it to the 30th of this month,” Elena McDonald said.
McDonald said FEMA would try to have an answer for her on Friday morning, which is the day she is due to be kicked out of the hotel.
Her 17-year-old son said he hopes FEMA will allow them a single room as they try to find new temporary housing.
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Other residents at the restoration center said they need a little help to get back on their feet.
“I got about two feet of water in my basement. I lost about, I’d say close to $20,000 worth of furnishings and everything downstairs. And I’m just looking for an SBA [Small Business Administration] loan today, see if they can give me a little hand, give me a little low-interest loan,” a man said.
But the 23-year Staten Island resident kept the devastation in perspective, noting that just possessions were lost in the storm.
“Thank God, everything else can get replaced. Human life is the thing. And it was so nice to see the community come together and help each other,” the man added.
The grace period applies to red-tagged residential properties that were damaged beyond repair or need extensive structural repairs before they can be re-inhabited.
The extension, which the City Council is expected to approve Dec. 10, would apply to more than 3,000 households that owe an average of about $500 on their Jan. 1 quarterly or semiannual payments, officials said.
The potential refunds would apply to this year’s taxes on more than 900 homes and average nearly $800.
The mayor is also asking lawmakers in Albany for the authority to reimburse those homeowners a portion of the taxes they already paid this fiscal year.
The reimbursement measure needs the approval from the State Legislature.
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