City unveils plans for first round of federal Sandy relief funds
After more than three months since Superstorm Sandy devastated homes and businesses across the five boroughs, the city laid out its plans Wednesday for doling out the first installment of federal recovery cash.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the majority of the $1.77 billion in grants would go toward rebuilding and restoring homes.
More than 9,000 homeowners would be eligible for the money that could be used for restoration, mold removal and measures to prevent future storm-related damage.
"These funds will help New Yorkers who were the hardest hit by Sandy get back on their feet and help communities build back stronger and smarter," the mayor said in a statement.
About $350 million of the federal Community Development Block grants will go to people who own single-family homes, $250 million will be used for multifamily homes and $120 million will be spent on public housing.
Roughly $185 million of the federal funding, which is the first of the $51 billion Sandy relief package that Congress approved last month, will be used to provide damaged small businesses with low-cost loans and grants to repair and storm proof their shops.
The rest of the money will go to pay for competitions that look for ideas to improve storm preparedness and boost the economies of areas affected by the Oct. 29 storm.
The city will redistribute the money in the form of grants and loans, and applications would be available next month at the earliest because the plan still needs approval from the federal government.
The application approval process will take a few more months, according to Bloomberg.
"We're going make sure that every single one of these things is well documented, that people qualify for the loans," he said at a news conference at City Hall.
Some volunteers who have helped the residents get back on their feet say the plan is a good start, but there needs to be more transparency.
Matthew Hillyer, who is a member of the Occupy Sandy movement, said he wants the mayor to dole out the money immediately and put it in storm mitigation projects.
"All the talk about how much money goes where and who gets it has been going on behind closed doors," he said.
The mayor, who visited a Staten Island business Wednesdaythat lost tens of thousands of dollars in damage from the storm, defended criticism about the delay in funds, stating that this was the most efficient way to get and distribute the money.
"If you talk about government programs that can take years, doing it within a couple months and a few weeks it's instantaneous in government speak," Bloomberg said.