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THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK

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THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK Powered By Docstoc
					                           THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
                                   OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
                                                                                  CITY HALL
                                                                          NEW YORK, NY 10007
                                                                                (212) 788-7116
  **FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
                                                                             September 17, 2007

Contact: 212-788-7116
Release #: 081-2007

    SPEAKER QUINN AND COUNCIL DELEGATION RELEASE FEDERAL AGENDA
         MAKE FIRST VISIT TO DC UNDER DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS
            Council’s Federal Agenda Calls for Greater Support for 9/11 Healthcare,
                       Affordable Housing, Children’s Health Insurance

City Hall, September 17, 2007 – Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and members of the City
Council will travel to Washington, D.C. today to present the Council’s Federal Agenda. This
marks the Council’s first such trip since the Democratic Party regained control of both houses of
Congress. The Speaker and Council Members are expected to meet with U.S. House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi, Senator Charles Schumer, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles
Rangel, Congressman Joseph Crowley and other members of the NYC Congressional
Delegation.

“The recently elected Democratic majority gives us an unprecedented opportunity to work with
Congress on the kinds of legislation that New Yorkers so desperately need,” said Speaker
Christine Quinn. “And by making September 11 healthcare funding the centerpiece of our
agenda, we are sending a clear message that the needs of our first responders are of paramount
concern to all New Yorkers. The federal government must fulfill its responsibility by passing
this crucial legislation.”

9/11 Healthcare

The primary focus of the Council’s Agenda is increased federal funding for New York City
September 11th healthcare programs, which is needed in order to continue providing medical care
to responders beyond the end of this year. A 2007 report by the New York City World Trade
Center Health Panel estimated that a minimum of $153 million a year is needed to merely sustain
the City’s three 9/11 healthcare programs: the NYC Fire Department’s World Trade Center
Medical Screening and Treatment Program, the WTC Worker and Volunteer Screening Program
and the WTC Environmental Health Center.

The Council urges Congress to enact S.201/H.R.1414, also known as the “9/11 Heroes Health
Improvement Act of 2007,” sponsored by Sen. Hillary Clinton and Rep. Jerrold Nadler. A
significant number of the estimated 40,000 people who participated in the rescue and recovery
efforts at the World Trade Center site in the months following the attacks of September 11
continue to suffer from devastating health problems. This Act establishes a grant program of


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$1.9 billion for FY 2008 through FY 2012, to monitor and track the medical and mental health
treatment of these individuals.

Additionally, the Council supports the passage of the Maloney-Nadler-Fossella 9/11 Health and
Compensation Act. This important legislation expands care to groups including residents, area
workers and students, and to the thousands of people who came from across the country to
respond to the attacks, establishing their right to be medically monitored and treated. The
legislation builds on the expertise of the Centers of Excellence, which currently provide high-
quality care to thousands of responders. In addition, it would provide compensation for
economic damages and losses by reopening the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

Under the proposed bill, ground zero health programs would also be included in the federal
budget on a regular basis. Since 9/11, all the programs have been financed through supplemental
or emergency appropriations.

Affordable Housing

Another major focus of the Council’s Federal Agenda is affordable housing. More than two-
thirds of New York City’s residents are renters. Of these renters, over half now spend more than
30% of their gross income on housing, a percentage commonly seen as a limit of affordability.
The burden is even higher for City residents with household incomes at or below the federal
poverty level, which on average pay about 55% of their income in rent.

To help address the affordable housing crisis, the Council is urging the passage of the Stabilize
Affordable Housing for the Future Act sponsored by Rep. Nydia Velazquez. In January 2003, a
new Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) directive instructed local HUD
offices to pursue aggressive enforcement action at buildings suffering financial mismanagement
or failing physical conditions. This has led to a significant increase in Section 8 properties
targeted for foreclosure and/or enforcement action.

The unintended consequences of these actions have created a number of problems. First, HUD's
enforcement policy encourages owners to deregulate housing, which inevitably leads to tenant
displacement. Second, valuable housing for low income tenants may be sold at unrestricted
foreclosure sales to unscrupulous real estate speculators who have no intention of protecting low
income tenants.

Until recently, HUD's Up Front Grant Program provided funds to rehabilitate distressed HUD
housing. This program was eliminated. Further, HUD no longer uses standard appraisal
methods when offering properties for sale to units of local government. This practice of inflating
the value of the property, taking no consideration of the rehabilitation needs of these distressed
properties, makes it impossible for local government to exercise their right of first refusal and
purchase the properties for preservation.

The Stabilize Affordable Housing for the Future Act makes the Up Front Grant Program
mandatory, supported by annual insurance premiums rather than subject to annual
appropriations. It requires HUD to use standard appraisal methods, and would allow New York



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City to implement the NYC Property Disposition Program, permiting HUD and local
governments to work together to preserve affordable housing and to assure that tenant choice is
exercised.

The Council is also supporting a number of other bills before Congress that would support
affordable housing preservation. These include:

      The Housing America’s Workforce Act, which provides employers with a business tax
       credit for up to 50% of qualified housing expenses paid for the benefit of employees.
      The Affordable Housing Preservation Tax Relief Act, which creates incentives for
       affordable housing preservation by allowing sellers to qualify for tax relief if purchasers
       agree to keep the housing affordable for 30 years.
      The Predatory Lending Deterrence Act, which establishes standards of care for mortgage
       brokers and originators, and establishes standards to assess a consumer's ability to repay.
      Legislation raising the private activity bond volume cap as a way to promote the private
       development of affordable housing, and creating a National Housing Trust Fund.
      Increasing funding to existing public housing authorities and core HUD programs.

Children’s Health Insurance

The Council also calls on Congress to reauthorize the State Child Health Insurance Program
(SCHIP) and to reverse recent Bush Administration guidelines concerning substitution of public
insurance for private coverage. SCHIP targets children whose family incomes are too high to be
eligible for Medicaid, but are not high enough to afford private health insurance. SCHIP
provides federal matching funds to states for insuring children in families whose incomes are less
than 250% of the federal poverty level.

The SCHIP law will expire on September 30, 2007. Two bills reauthorizing the program have
passed the House and the Senate and are awaiting reconciliation. Both bills increase spending
and eligibility levels for SCHIP. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that these bills will
cover 800,000 children who would otherwise lose their current SCHIP insurance and an
additional 3.2 to 4.2 million uninsured children. The Bush Administration has indicated its
opposition to the program and has threatened to veto the legislation. The City Council urges
Congress and the Bush Administration to reauthorize SCHIP and expand the number of children
who can be insured by the Program.


The Council’s Federal Agenda also focused on issues such as education, mental health, social
services, transportation, and environmental protection. For additional information, see the
attached agenda, or go to http://www.nyccouncil.info/pdf_files/reports/fedagenda.pdf.


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