WASHINGTON SQUARE — On the eve of the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, federal, state and local officials say an additional $1.3 billion in federal aid is on the way for NYC homeowners and business still struggling to get back on their feet.
“The main focus on the first year was on recovery. This second year is rebuilding— rebuilding our homes, rebuilding our small businesses, rebuilding our public works," said Sen. Charles Schumer at NYU Monday.
For homeowners, the funds will help fill the gap left over after FEMA and private insurance funds have run out, with almost all the new money coming in the form of grants.
“Almost a year after the storm, we are absolutely committed that the dollars we are announcing today get every community back on its feet,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, who led a special task force called by President Barack Obama to deal with the recovery from Sandy.
The funds will be used not only to help home and business owners, but will also go towards long-term resiliency efforts and improving the city’s infrastructure.
“These funds will continue to provide critical support to homeowners, to small businesses, but increasingly this aid will go to infrastructure and other critical projects that will better protect the city from storms in the future,” Donovan said.
The rebuilding work for businesses and homeowners will continue in large part through the city’s Build It Back program, the deadline for which has been extended through the anniversary of the storm, city officials said.
Officials acknowledged that the process has taken longer than intended. Schumer and other members of Congress blamed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for the initial three-month delay in passing the full $60 billion recovery package.
But the officials said the process for rolling out the funds has been necessarily slow as they ensured the programs and processes in place would guarantee the funds were spent responsibly.
“We are not wasting the taxpayers’ money,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared. “We’ve tried to account for every single penny.”
New York State will also receive a Sandy aid cash infusion of $2 billion, much of which would go to hep agencies such as the MTA continue to recover from the storm, officials said.