Daly said that she has already spent $20,000 just preparing to do work on her home. She has paid for a land survey, an architect and the deposit to retain a contractor. Now, she said, she has been told that if she uses the NY Rising grant, she will need to use a contractor from a pre-approved list.
“I’m worried now,” she said. “Who are they going to give me to build this house? They’re taking money away from Long Beach contractors.”
A glacial pace
Canals resident Kevin Reilly said his home is in exactly the same state as when the Herald spoke with him two months ago, when he first applied for the NY Rising funding. “We haven’t done anything since we realized we wouldn’t be reimbursed for any additional work,” he said.
Reilly was originally concerned about the funding, because he had been accepted for, but declined, an SBA loan. Originally, if a homeowner applied for an SBA loan and was approved but opted not to take it, it was still subtracted from the total he or she was eligible to receive from the grant program. Recently, HUD agreed to ease those restrictions, after pressure from state and local officials.
But Reilly’s relief was short-lived. He said he has attended all the meetings the city holds with government representatives, and that with each new meeting the NY Rising funding seems less and less flexible. “At every single meeting they had, there was good information,” he said. “But at the very next meeting, it was clarified, and it was a little bit of a surprise ending. I think a lot of people don’t understand what they’re going into and what the program is going to do.”
He said that, initially, government representatives said that the funding would not be income-based. But at the city’s last forum, he said, Matt Nelson, president of the state Office of Community Renewal, said there is a mandate that at least half of the total funding must go to families that make less than 80 percent of the average income on Long Island.
Additionally, Reilly said that, according to Nelson, 500 of the 4,000 Nassau and Suffolk County applicants have received their first letters from the program, but many reported that their initial letter contained no useful details about their status with the grant.