In the action plan, the state allocated $1.2 billion to its housing programs, including grants to repair and reconstruct damaged homes as well as the buyout, mortgage-assistance and low-income housing assistance programs. These programs were given over $838 million in the first appropriation of aid money. Some $440 million more will be awarded to the community reconstruction program, which allows storm-ravaged communities the opportunity to undertake storm mitigation projects. Another $430 million will go to infrastructure, and $104 million will cover administration and planning costs.
The action plan also details changes or clarifications to the recovery programs, though it did not include anywhere near the scope of changes audience members at the meeting were suggesting. For housing programs, the state is no longer requiring homeowners to own their homes after they are repaired with state grant money. For homeowners who have already paid off their mortgages and were previously ineligible for the Interim Mortgage and Homeowners Assistance Program, NY Rising will now cover other housing costs resulting from residents’ displacement. Previously, the award covered the lesser of either the monthly mortgage payment or monthly rent payment. Now it will cover the higher cost.
Prior to the meeting, Sandy Victims Fighting FEMA, an advocacy group for storm victims, held a rally to draw attention to a problem members say has been forgotten.
A Bellmore resident named Orlie said she received just $333 from NY Rising to repair her home. Every time an inspector comes to assess her house, she added, the report comes back incorrect and missing information. She said she has $212,000 worth of repairs, but her flood insurance paid her only $40,000, which is where, she said, the problem originates.
“The thing is, I have more than sufficient coverage that I bought from my government. I shouldn’t need [NY Rising],” Orlie said. “They deflected all of the blame from the [National Flood Insurance Program] to the state. ‘We’re not going to pay you, but were going to give them some money. Go beg over there and leave us alone.’”