From The Mayor’s Desk ...
Recently we launched a new partnership between the city and American Airlines, which is going to give a real lift to our economy. As part of the agreement, American will be promoting our city in other markets and will be expanding its service into and out of our airports. American is also forming a new alliance with Jet Blue, which recently announced its own plans to keep its headquarters here in town and to expand. All of this will mean more visitors, thousands of more jobs, and ultimately more money in the pockets of New Yorkers.
But despite two of our nation’s biggest airlines making such a major vote of confidence in our city’s future, we understand that many New Yorkers are still struggling in the here and now. And make no mistake: we will continue to do whatever we can to help them weather these tough economic times. Let me quickly talk about two of those ways.
The first is foreclosure assistance. Although we haven’t been hit as hard by the home foreclosure crisis as other parts of the country, we are not immune to it either. Last year, there were more than 20,000 foreclosure filings in our city, and thousands more families remain at risk. That’s why we are putting together the most comprehensive effort to combat home foreclosure of any city in the nation. Recently, we were given a new opportunity to help people because of a new State law, which we helped pass, that gives people in danger of losing their home the option of having a “settlement conference,” in which they can negotiate alternatives to foreclosure. And on Monday we began recruiting lawyers to represent New Yorkers in these settlement conferences – free of charge – so that they have a greater chance of staying in their homes. The second way we’re helping struggling New Yorkers is through tax assistance. This year we’ve made a free, on-line tax preparation service available to New Yorkers making less than $58,000. By visiting the City’s website at nyc.gov you can file your taxes from the convenience of your own home – accurately, easily, and probably in less time than it takes to commute to work.
Eligible New Yorkers who prefer that a professionally trained person prepare their returns should know that there are also more than 70 “Volunteer Income Tax Assistance” sites around the city. To get free help at these sites, you must make less than $18,000 a year, or if you have dependents, less than $50,000. Call 311 for the location of the site nearest you – and remember to do it soon because April 15th, “tax day,” is right around the corner.
This year, April 15th happens to be important for another reason: it’s the deadline for returning your 2010 Census form. And there’s actually a very close connection between the taxes we pay and being counted in the Census. Each year, the Federal government uses formulas based on Census returns to distribute funding for essential services like schools, hospitals and highways.
Our city stands to lose $30,000 in federal funding over the next decade for every person that isn’t counted by the Census. So it’s important that you send back your form, if you haven’t done so already. The more accurate a count, the more money we’ll get from Washington and Albany.