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Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Letters to the Editor

Close to homelessness

The following is an excerpt from a letter written to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and shared with the Herald.

Dear Governor Cuomo:

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, as many of our fellow New Yorkers are fighting to put their lives back together, their fight is being made that much harder by their inability to receive adequate funding through New York Rising’s Community Development Block Grant loan program.
Many Long Islanders who received Small Business Administration disaster loans to help cover the difference between their homeowners insurance and repair or rebuilding costs are currently unable to receive further government assistance under a duplication-of-funds provision that is being used to deny benefits to Long Islanders CDBG grant funds.
As you are aware, these people were forced to fill out SBA paperwork before they could even be considered for a FEMA grant. Now they continue to be victimized for following the procedures put in place by the federal government.
But these denials are not coming from the federal government — they’re coming from your State Division of Housing and Community Renewal. Your administration is denying fellow New Yorkers the ability to get back home.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan has explained publicly that it’s up to local governments to set rules and provisions for the allocation of CDBG funds, and that there is no legal restriction on awarding grant money to individuals that have received SBA loans. Additionally, SBA loans are loans that these struggling New Yorkers must repay, whereas CDBG funds are grants which are not to be repaid. This inequity is veiled in a legal gray area and is being used to unfairly deny additional assistance to those in need.
Clearly we must use our grant money frugally in order to help as many families as possible. However, we must also ensure that we are balancing that priority with the aim of providing adequate assistance to those in need. Our constituents are running out of FEMA rental assistance, with no extension coming, and are on the verge of becoming homeless yet again.

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