Federal grant money totaling $1.77 billion is finally on its way to New York City homeowners, apartments dwellers and businesses ravaged by superstorm Sandy -- the first installment in federal money that will pay to rebuild homes, clean up mold and replace infrastructure.
"It took too long -- three months" for the federal grant money to be approved, said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan at a Manhattan City Hall news conference Friday.
"This money will help a family who is still sleeping at a friend's home, and for the child who has been sleeping on someone else's couch to finally get the help they need," said Donovan, adding that $9 million will be set aside for rental assistance for up to 24 months.
Donovan said the grant money will help shuttered neighborhood businesses reopen and hire employees. "The main streets of the city's neighborhoods and broad walks will be ready just in time for the summer," he said.
Several hundred case workers will be hired to help families and business owners apply for grants and low-interest loans. Businesses can apply beginning May 20; online applications for individuals and families will be available in June. Offices for walk-in applicants in hard-hit neighborhoods will be set up in the next several months.
The Community Development Block Grant money will pay for repairs and reconstruction not covered by insurance or previous relief assistance. Money can be used for a variety of projects, including mold cleanup.
Grant money of $648 million can be used to rebuild single-family and multifamily buildings, including public housing.
A total of $293 million will be available through grants and low-interest loans to businesses and for new business investments. Another $654 million will be spent to replace public infrastructure.
"We can now breathe a sigh of relief that real help is on its way," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). Co-ops and condo buildings will be eligible to apply for grant money to replace oil burners and common areas destroyed by the storm surge.