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Long Beach wins federal grant to help Sandy victims return home

Long Beach has received a $1.1 million federal grant that city officials say will help get the city's remaining displaced superstorm Sandy victims back in their homes.

The grant, administered through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program, will be used to "expedite post-storm permits, code inspections and certificates of occupancy" for Sandy victims, city records state. The city council voted to accept the funding on Tuesday.

The money will help bring residents back home to Long Beach, where about 20 percent of residents remain displaced, city officials said.

"We have so many people who are rebuilding. The building department is inundated," City Councilwoman Eileen Goggin said. "This money will allow the process to go forward."

The city will use the bulk of the money to hire building inspectors, city council president Scott Mandel said. The rest will be used to buy computers, vehicles and other equipment for the building department, city officials said.

The extra inspectors are especially needed in the city's Canals and West End neighborhoods, which were hit hard by Sandy and where many residents are still rebuilding their homes, said Scott Kemins, the city's building commissioner. The exact number of inspectors hasn't yet been determined.

The grant runs out in 2015 but can potentially be renewed, Kemins said.

The extra inspectors will help residents get back in their homes faster, Mandel said.

"Additional inspectors can expedite any lag in that department," he said. "It'll give us more of a workforce to clear up any red tape."

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