“This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
“With winter at hand, we’re intensifying our efforts to help all the New Yorkers still suffering from Hurricane Sandy. Last week, we took new steps to protect thousands of New Yorkers who still lack power, heat or hot water in their homes from winter and its falling temperatures. We proposed property tax relief for the hardest-hit homeowners. And we joined Governor Andrew Cuomo and our Congressional delegation in urging $42 billion in Federal help to cover hurricane recovery costs in our state, including $15.2 billion in public and private losses in our city that aren’t covered by insurance.
“First, to help more people get their power and heat back on, our NYC Rapid Repairs program has sent hundreds of teams of electricians and plumbers into the neighborhoods that took the brunt of Hurricane Sandy. We’ve also sent letters to the owners of all the private multi-unit residential properties in these communities, telling them that if they haven’t already done so, they must take immediate steps to restore power, heat and hot water to their tenants.
“Homeowners and landlords can arrange to get this work done free of charge through NYC Rapid Repairs by calling 311, going to the City’s web site at nyc.gov or visiting one of the seven Restoration Centers we’ve established in communities hit hardest by Sandy. Our letters warned landlords that if they don’t restore these essential services on their own, the City will – and then hold – them responsible.
“In the meantime, we’ve continued going door-to-door in areas hit by Sandy, giving electric blankets to residents who have power but no heat, warning them about hypothermia and the serious health hazards of using gas ovens and ranges for heat and letting them know that the staff at the Restoration Centers can help them find warm places to stay.
“There are also New Yorkers who own homes either damaged beyond hope of restoration or else requiring major structural repairs before they can be lived in again. To ease their financial and emotional burdens, Speaker Christine Quinn and other Council leaders have joined us in urging the Council to approve an interest-free three-month grace period on their property taxes. They’ll have until April 1st to pay taxes normally due on January 1st.
“Council leaders also will join us in asking the State Legislature to allow us to give property tax rebates to owners of the most severely damaged homes. For 90 percent of affected homeowners, these rebates would range from just over $600 to just over $700. We know such rebates can’t make up for all the losses and stresses that homeowners have experienced, but they’re the right thing to do to help them get back on their feet.
“In Washington last week, I also met leaders from both houses of Congress and both parties to describe our recovery efforts and also explain the $42 billion New York State needs from Washington. Our reception was very good – everyone we talked to understands the severity of the hurricane damage and the need to help. That’s because recovery from this hurricane isn’t a partisan political issue – it’s something we need to do for one another as Americans.
“This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Thanks for listening.”