Nearly 3 months after Hurricane Sandy, Staten Island still waits for disaster-recovery aid
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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — So just how will those billions in Sandy aid that Congress and the president are finally poised to ink make their way into the hands of the Average Joe and Jane homeowner and shopkeeper?
The answer: In the form of Community Development Block Grants, to the tune of $20 billion for New York and New Jersey, which will get to Staten Islanders via a city application process.
The money, according to the office of Rep. Michael Grimm, is “flexible,” meaning it can be used to fill in the gaps for homeowners left in financial limbo with their rebuilding efforts, even after getting money from FEMA and their insurance companies.
Think mitigation efforts, such as elevating homes, moving electrical panels and boilers up from ground level and strengthening foundations.
Ditto for small businessowners, who have had trouble qualifying for grants and loans, said Grimm.
The money will be distributed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Grimm’s office said.
While the Block Grants aren’t designed to make folks whole, the way they were pre-Sandy, it will provide concrete help, said Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn).
“One of the best things about Community Development Block Grants is that they are flexible, and will allow the city to implement creative programs to help its residents recover and rebuild, stronger and more resilient to future climate events,” confirmed Peter Spencer, City Hall’s NYC Recovery spokesman.
Unknown, for the moment, is exactly when the money will begin to flow.
The Senate still has to pass the House version of the Sandy aid package, and President Obama still has to sign it. Both are expected to happen.
Because Monday is a federal holiday, as well as the president’s second inaugural, the earliest the Senate could pass the package is Tuesday.
Once the president signs off, the money will begin to make its way here and the application process will commence.
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, whom the president put in charge of the Sandy recovery effort, “has been working very closely with me,” said Grimm. “He has been a great, great partner. So has the governor and the mayor. The governor really has been a leader in all of this. He will make sure the money gets directly to the homeowner. It will be done smartly and wisely.”
By Judy L. Randall
Staten Island Advance