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Officials: Second shot of HUD money focuses on future storms

The second round of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development money slated for superstorm Sandy relief will have significantly more funding set aside for helping Long Islanders prepare for future storms, officials said Monday.

The HUD funding, released through its Community Development Block Grant program, can be used for housing, economic development and infrastructure improvement. More than 80 percent of the $2.097 billion earmarked for the state in the second round will head for Long Island. New York City will receive a separate $1.34 billion.

"The . . . second will have a lot of money for mitigation," against future storms, said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). "So if you're a homeowner and you say, 'I want to spend $30,000 to raise my home, and you're in an area that's prone to flooding, you'll get it,' " he said.

Schumer, along with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, made a formal announcement of the second round's release in a Manhattan news conference Monday.

The focus of an anticipated third tranche, or funding round, will be long-term infrastructure improvement, the senator said. "Anything that needs specific planning and engineering work will be the third tranche," he said.

The federal government has made available, with this latest allocation, almost $40 billion in Sandy aid, Donovan said. But there is more to be done, he said.

"Too many New Yorkers are still feeling the impacts of the storm and are struggling to recover," he said. "We are absolutely committed to making sure the dollars we are announcing today get every community back on its feet."

Some of the state's $2.097 billion allocation will go to the city to help with transit costs and a small portion will be used to solve problems lingering from hurricanes Irene and Lee, he said.

Block grant money is flexible and can be used to buy damaged properties in a flood plain and relocate residents to a safer area. It can also fund the rehabilitation of damaged homes, streets, water, sewer and drainage systems as well as debris removal.

In the spring, HUD gave New York State an initial $1.71 billion. New York City received $1.77 billion in separate funding from HUD.

Both allocations come from the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. The legislation authorized $60 billion in federal money for Sandy recovery.

A total of $16 billion of the Sandy recovery fund was put into HUD's CDBG program.

Sandy struck Oct. 29, 2012, and destroyed 300,000 homes statewide.

The assistance follows immediate disaster funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration, other federal assistance and private insurance.

The state had to apply for the second round of funding.

With Sarah Crichton

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