More than 200 LIers hit by Sandy ask state to buy their houses, say officials

The Reilly family is interested in receiving a

The Reilly family is interested in receiving a buyout by the state for their Mastic Beach home. (Oct. 17, 2013) (Credit: Randee Daddona)

More than 200 property owners in Nassau and Suffolk counties whose residences were severely damaged by Sandy are asking the state to buy their homes at pre-storm prices, and the state has made 89 conditional offers so far, state officials said.

As of Tuesday, 229 homeowners -- 113 in Nassau and 116 in Suffolk -- had applied for the state's home acquisition program, which is part of the NY Rising Housing Recovery Program, spokeswoman Barbara Brancaccio said.

Homeowners are eligible to apply for acquisition if their property is "substantially damaged" -- that is, the house received damage of 50 percent or more of its pre-storm value -- and is located in a 100-year flood plain, as defined by the local flood plain administrator.


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The state plans to make more conditional offers within the next two weeks, Brancaccio said. Final offers are expected to follow within four to eight weeks, and homeowners will have 30 days to consider the offers. Closings are likely to follow within 12 weeks.

The state will pay a maximum price of $729,750 for a single-family home and $934,200 for a two-family.

The acquisition-seekers in Nassau include residents of Baldwin, Bellmore, Cedarhurst, East Rockaway, Freeport, Inwood, Island Park, Long Beach, Massapequa, Merrick, Seaford, Rockville Centre and Woodmere, state officials said. In Suffolk, applicants include residents of Amityville, Babylon, Hampton Bays, Lindenhurst, Mastic Beach, St. James and West Islip.

The acquisitions are separate from the so-called "enhanced buyout" program, also under NY Rising. In that voluntary program, the state notified 613 Suffolk County residents in letters dated Aug. 26 that the state could pay pre-storm values for their homes, plus a 10 percent premium.

The enhanced buyout program was only offered in eight Suffolk County communities, including Lindenhurst, Flanders and Mastic Beach. Those communities were chosen for their history of repeated flooding and residents' perceived interest in buyouts.

Those eligible to apply for acquisitions are homeowners in the counties declared a federal disaster zone after Sandy, which includes Nassau, Suffolk, the five boroughs of New York City and some upstate counties, said Rebecca Sinclair, buyout coordinator for NY Rising. The state expects to acquire about 200 properties throughout the disaster zone.

John Reilly, a teacher who lives with his wife and two daughters in Mastic Beach, said he wishes he had been offered an enhanced buyout. But because he was not chosen for one, he intends to seek an acquisition.

He said the storm "changed everything, including our access to emergency medical care."

The family's home is located across the street from a creek, on a rise. Since Sandy, Reilly said, the road and his property flood with every significant storm.

The couple's 7-year-old daughter suffers from asthma, and the family fears that an ambulance might not be able to reach them in an emergency.

"When the next storm comes," Reilly said, "people are going to say, 'You guys know you should have left.' "

Acquisitions could appeal to the "small number" of homeowners who do not have the funds or the desire to rebuild, Sinclair said.

For acquisitions, federal rules require the state to break the total purchase price into two parts, Sinclair said: the post-storm value of the house, and a "resettlement incentive" that would bring the price up to the home's pre-storm value.

Certain benefits could be deducted from the purchase price -- for instance, insurance payments or federal grants received for repairs that were not made, state officials said. If a homeowner borrowed money from the federal Small Business Administration to make repairs, the loan would need to be repaid.

The acquisition properties could be redeveloped in a storm-resistant way. That is unlike the 613 parcels eligible for enhanced buyouts; if purchased by the state, the buildings on those properties will be demolished and the land never built on again, but returned to a natural state to act as a buffer against future storms.

For more information about the acquisition program, go to stormrecovery.ny.gov or call 855-NYS-SANDY (855-697-7263).

 

 

STATE'S HOME BUYOUT PROGRAM

 

The NY Rising Housing Recovery Program's acquisition program:

Homeowners must prove their homes received damage of 50 percent or more of its pre-storm value -- and that they are in a 100-year flood plain as defined by the local flood plain administrator.

No incentives are offered.

If the state acquires a property through this program, it can be redeveloped in a more storm-resistant way.

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