Hurricane Sandy relief rules restrict New Yorkers from using cash to rebuild
The federal government's current plan to compensate victims of Hurricane Sandy allocates funds for Long Island residents hoping to repair their homes, while forgetting to reimburse those affected within New York City limits.
The New York City government was given $1.8 billion in federal grants but, because of federal restrictions, private home and business owners whose properties were damaged by the October 2012 storm can only be given financial aid for future projects, not cash for repairs. Long Island, which received $1.7 billion, is not required to adhere to the same standard.
In a letter to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, New York Senator Chuck Schumer called for common sense in distributing the federal funds.
"There needs to be consistency between New York City and the New York State's action plans to ensure that all homeowners in New York can access the same type of assistance," he wrote. "A homeowner in Rockaway Beach will not be eligible for the same benefit that a homeowner in Long Beach, just 10 miles away, will be able to access."
A spokeswoman for the city told the New York Daily News that the current plans are only preliminary, which is cause for a cautious optimism among the many New Yorkers who were without flood insurance when the storm hit. This disbursement is just the first part of a $50 billion package that was reluctantly approved by Congress.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in February that $720 million would be spent on rebuilding destroyed homes, $185 million on investing in struggling businesses and another $140 million on improving still-damaged infrastructure, although it’s unclear if the mayor's plan accounted for the language of the federal grant.
At the end of March it was announced that hundreds of people still displaced from their homes because of Sandy would be moving from hotels into New York apartments paid for by the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said it would pay rent for the apartments and all other administrative costs. FEMA has spent more than $60 million on the program, according to the Wall Street Journal, while the city has spent $25 million.