Broad Channel, Queens – Citing mounting construction and other costs for displaced victims of Superstorm Sandy, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D – Broad Channel) is calling on the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to waive minimum water and sewer charges applied to homeowners.
“For a family still displaced after Sandy, every day out of their home means mounting bills and growing stress. Charging families for basic services that they can’t receive is simply adding insult to injury to those who have already suffered so much,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “I urge the Department of Environmental Protection to step up and help our families, not penalize them for still being displaced.”
In a letter to DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd, Assemblyman Goldfeder called on the city to waive required minimum service charges applied to homeowners still displaced by Superstorm Sandy. According to the letter, Goldfeder has received numerous complaints from homeowners forced to pay the charges on top of growing reconstruction and relocation costs associated with recovery efforts, now more than three years after the storm.
According to the DEP website, the agency applies a minimum $1.27 per day charge for water and wastewater connections. For a homeowner still displaced by Sandy, this translates into more than $1,000 in service charges applied to date on their damaged property. Homeowners who have contacted the Assemblyman’s office point to the difficultly of paying this charge on top of bills for reconstruction, relocation and storage associated with the rebuild process.
“I probably pay $4,000 a month for all my Sandy expenses,” said displaced Broad Channel resident Joan Marie Delahunt. “I’m in debt, there are things I just can’t pay despite working three jobs, and life just seems to go on as usual for everybody. For three years I’ve been paying water bills on something that’s not rebuilt. It’s maddening that there’s nothing there and I’m still being charged this minimum usage charge.”
In 2014, the city’s Build it Back program announced a water bill credit program to reimburse homeowners for the minimum usage charge. The one-time reimbursement applied $750 to water bills for homeowners who were out of their homes for “a significant period of time” between November 1, 2012 and June 30, 2014. However, this program has not been renewed. For Goldfeder, extending the program indefinitely is a matter of helping families still struggling to recover.
“This is about doing what’s right,” concluded Goldfeder. “Waiving these minimum charges will bring maximum relief to our families as they work to return to the community stronger than ever.”