A Long Island congressman is calling for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help co-op and condominium developments rebuild after natural disasters such as superstorm Sandy.
FEMA gives grants of up to $31,900 to owners of individual co-op or condo units, to help them pay for repairs. However, common property such as boilers, belongs to the association that manages the development, not to any individual homeowner. FEMA classifies those associations as businesses. As a result, the massive repair bills faced by many co-op and condo associations are not eligible for FEMA grants, but only loans from the federal Small Business Association.
Many co-op and condo residents complain that they cannot afford the cost of repairing or replacing such items, and that they are not eligible for FEMA’s help with those bills.
By contrast, owners of single-family homes can get FEMA grants for costly items such as boilers.
FEMA’s policy is a “bureaucratic error” that “is having real consequences for co-op and condo owners here in New York,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) said in a statement. Israel made the request in a letter sent this week to the top officials at FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. The letter also was signed by 20 other members of Congress, including Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford).
New York has asked for permission from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to use a portion of the state’s initial infusion of $1.7 billion in federal Sandy aid to help co-op and condo associations rebuild.
However, that assistance does not go far enough, since co-op and condo associations will need to compete with other potential grant recipients, and it does not provide a “permanent fix,” as a change in FEMA’s policies on co-op and condo associations would, according to the news release from Israel’s office.