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Schumer, Menendez Fight Proposal That Could Allocate Sandy Funds For Nationwide Use

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Not so fast. That was Sen. Charles Schumer’s message to Housing and Urban Development on Sunday.

“They were sort of caught with their hands going into the cookie jar,” Schumer said.

The lawmaker’s comments refer to a proposal that was recently briefed to Congress. The plan would dole out $2 billion of Sandy relief funds to other states, CBS 2’s Steve Langford reported.

The senator called the possibility of HUD opening up remaining Sandy funding for a national resiliency competition, unacceptable.

“This bill isn’t called Sandy relief for nothing,” he said.

Schumer stood with New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and fought for Sandy victims to come first, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.

“Congress didn’t mean for disaster assistance to be a disaster relief lottery that anyone can win,” Menedez said. “We must keep Sandy recovery funds where they belong: with the people who need it and with the people in our states who lost so much.”

Schumer said that he has spoken with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan several times and that Donovan said that no final decision has been made.

For residents still struggling to rebuild, the idea of having Sandy money sent to other states doesn’t sit well with them.

As a second summer now approaches since Sandy, there are still signs of hopelessness for so many in Broad Channel, Queens, Langford reported.

Ed Phillips’ home remains a complete wreck, as he showed CBS 2 News at the end of March.

“I got nothing, nothing but a headache,” he said.

The grim plight of Phillips’ and so many other New Yorkers prompted promises of action from Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Anyone who has lost their home, anyone whose home has been destroyed, we’re going to reach them. Doesn’t matter what priority level, we’re going to reach them period,” the mayor had said.

Less than a month later, a skeptical Phillips had some good news to report.

“They’re saying that they’re going to give us a grant for the rest of the money to use one of their builders to rebuild the property,” he said.

But Phillips said he’s one of the few in his neighborhood to get help from the city, despite the enormous piles of Superstorm Sandy funding that continues to sit untouched.

“For every person that I know that is making some kind of headway, there’s 10 more that have basically given up on the process,” he said.

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