NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The first installment of New York City’s federal aid for Superstorm Sandy victims will go for grants to homeowners and businesses.
But some victims say Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to get the money flowing by spring or early summer isn’t fast enough, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday.
It took months for the federal government to green light a $51 billion aid package for storm victims, but it took Bloomberg only one day to lay out plans to spend much of the first installment.
“They’re designed to meet the most urgent needs of communities that Sandy hit the hardest,” Bloomberg said.
And it’s no surprise that the biggest chunk of the $1.8 billion pot is earmarked for housing recovery – grants to buy generators for public housing developments and to help some 9,300 people repair and rebuild their homes.
“These grants won’t reach all the homeowners who sustained Sandy damage. In fact, we estimate it will only cover about half of them, but it is a great beginning and it is where the need is the greatest,” Bloomberg said.
Like many things involving the feds, there is red tape. The government has to approve the city’s spending plans before the money can be doled out. Officials said they hope to do it by spring or early summer.
“Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Like, is this the way we should live? It’s over three months. I can’t believe this is America,” said Linda Restaino, a resident of hard-hit New Dorp on Staten Island. “Walk in our shoes for a little bit and see what it’s like. It must be nice to be a billionaire and not have to worry about this stuff.”
“I’d like to believe it, but I just don’t see it. I just don’t have that much faith in government to help people with their houses,” added New Dorp’s Rudy Miennot.
Miennot has been living in a camper while his home is being rebuilt. He said what he and his neighbors really need is, “immediate cash.”
On the defensive, the mayor said he’s doing the best he can within the constraints of the federal government.
“In government speak this is instantaneous. The government doesn’t back up a truck and dump bills on the ground. You have to justify it. You have to get approvals. You have to comply with the law,” Bloomberg said.
New Jersey is getting a little more than $1.8 billion in this first round. Governor Chris Christie said he hopes to have the money flowing by the end of the month. Like in New York City, it will go for homes and businesses, but the governor also wants some spent on an aggressive marketing program to advertise the Jersey Shore as open for business during this summer’s tourist season.
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