U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan came to the State Capitol Friday to announce a rollout of $1.73 billion in aid New York is slated to receive for superstorm Sandy recovery. It's one of the initial blocks of aid package that will eventually total around $30 billion.
Donovan, joined Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), was expected to approve New York’s “action plan” for implementing HUD block grants. This is separate from aid distributed earlier through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"Today, for the first time, money can actually be made available to the homeowner and the small business owner," Schumer said.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, who attended the news conference, said approximately 7,500 Nassau homeowners and 600 business owners already have "pre-registered" for the HUD block grant aid. He said fewer than a dozen people have inquired about money to relocate rather than rebuild.
Money is also available to Upstate communities hit by Hurricanes Irene and Lee in 2011.
Officials said the money would flow in two streams: a short-term fund for homeowners and businesses to rebuild; and a long-term fund for future planning. Communities will have to submit plans for the long-term aid; Cuomo said he'd kickoff a conference in June to kickoff the planning process.
Donovan said storm-damaged homes must be rebuilt one foot above current flood levels.
Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said earlier this week that many Long Island residents are still deciding whether to try to rebuild or abandon their neighborhoods, in part because federal aid has been slow to arrive.