NY Rising in Long Beach
By Anthony Rifilato
March 24, 2014
City launches new program to help Sandy victims
As the April 11 deadline to apply for the NY Rising Housing Recovery Program quickly approaches, the city has launched a new program to help residents who are “still struggling to navigate through the bureaucracy” of post-Hurricane Sandy funding and rebuilding programs, City Manager Jack Schnirman said.
The city has teamed up with FEGS Health & Human Services — a not‐for‐profit organization that helps individuals achieve greater personal and economic independence — to establish a Residential Rebuilding Assistance Program in Long Beach, described as the first of its kind in the region. The program, officials said, will be offering residents additional comprehensive residential rebuilding services, with the ultimate goal of “helping Long Beach residents receive the funding and resources they need and deserve.”
“This innovative, first of its kind partnership will enable us to assist residents who are still struggling to navigate through the bureaucracy,” Schnirman said at the March 18 City Council meeting. “The City Council has made it clear that the city needs to take a comprehensive approach towards making sure that everyone obtains the funding and resources they need and deserve to rebuild with resiliency. This program will help facilitate the permitting process, provide disaster case management and offer residents additional support services.”
According to the city, the program is funded by a Community Development Block Grant that the city obtained from the state to accelerate the repair, reconstruction and replacement of residences affected by Sandy.
“The city established this partnership to help residents obtain the long-awaited funding and resources they need and deserve to rebuild resiliently,” Councilwoman Eileen Goggin said in a statement.
In Long Beach, 865 homes were deemed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be substantially damaged, meaning that the cost of repairs would be more than half the appraised value. Homeowners were told to either elevate or rebuild them.
Last October, Building Commissioner Scott Kemins told the Herald that the Building Department had received more than 200 applications for either new or elevated homes, a number that was expected climb to more than 500 as NY Rising funds were released. City officials said that they believe between 5 and 10 percent of Long Beach residents remain displaced.The city’s announcement of the program with FEGS comes as the deadline to apply for the NY Rising program is set to expire. The deadlines do not affect homeowners already in the program, in process of receiving their award, or those seeking clarification of their award. The community buyout program, in which neighborhoods can opt-in to have the state buy out their entire neighborhood, will also close April 11.NY Rising, tasked with distributing billions in federal Sandy aid money allocated to the state, began releasing grant award letters last October. The program was announced a year ago as a way to help homeowners fill the funding gaps left by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Small Business Administration and their insurance, a reimbursement process that residents and local officials described as sluggish and complicated.
Schnirman said that the Residential Rebuilding Assistance Program is aimed at helping residents navigate the various “processes and agencies” — like NY Rising — to help everyone return to, or remain in, their homes. The program was established to help facilitate the permitting process; provide disaster case management, information, referral and other support services such as counseling “in all aspects of Sandy recovery.”
The program, to be based at City Hall, will collect data to more accurately track progress of residential rebuilding, and identify and report trends and issues, enabling the city to better assist residents in their recovery operations.
“FEGS Health and Human Services is committed to assisting residents of Long Beach continue in their recovery from Superstorm Sandy,” FEGS Senior Vice President Kathy Rosenthal said in a statement. “From the East End to the West End, FEGS looks forward to working in partnership with the City of Long Beach to help the community rebuild.”The Residential Rebuilding Assistance Program:•Will be located in a dedicated office at City Hall, with computer terminals available for residents to use to complete any necessary paperwork.
•A Residential Rebuilding Coordinator will be available to work one‐on‐one with residents who are in need of assistance.
•For assistance, e‐mail Isabel Munoz at RRC@longbeachny.gov or call (516) 705‐7222.
For NY Rising:
Homeowners interested in applying may do so by April 11 by calling 1-855-697-7263 or visitingwww.stormrecovery.ny.gov.