Aracelia Cook 0

South East Queens request NYC Council to hold an oversight hearing

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October 27, 2020

Dear Speaker Johnson, Council Member Adams, and Council Member Constantinides,

We are writing to ask that you hold an oversight hearing to assess the New York City Comptroller’s response to victims of the November 30, 2019 sewage backup. We are South Ozone Park residents who have suffered thousands of dollars in damages as a result of this environmental disaster. The majority of us have not received just compensation for our losses. Almost one year after the sewage backup, many of us have not even received offers from the city. All of us have had to navigate a claims process that is baffling, opaque, and unnecessarily prolonged.

We are also Southeast Queens residents who fear that a failure in municipal infrastructure could damage our homes and our health. We believe that an oversight hearing will not only help our neighbors in South Ozone Park, but will also lead to reforms that will make the city’s claims process more just for all New Yorkers. Working-class communities of color should not bear the disproportionate burden of New York City’s aging and crumbling infrastructure.

We would like the oversight hearing to address a number of issues apparent in the November 30, 2019 sewage backup claims process, including:

  • Conflicting directions on how to prepare claims
  • Insufficient support in assembling complicated claims
  • Unreasonable delay
  • Lack of transparency in settlement calculation
  • Inadequate, and even rude, communications as residents await offers and attempt to negotiate settlements
  • A pattern of low offers
  • Unnecessary pressure in acceptance process, namely the 30-day window for accepting offers
  • Barriers to amending claims for property damage, new costs associated arising from unreasonable delay, as well as mold inspection and remediation

Thank you for your support. We look forward to attending and testifying at the oversight hearing.


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