STATEN ISLAND, NY – Today, Rep. Michael G. Grimm (R-SI/Brooklyn) sent the following letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg on behalf of families and homeowners that have yet to see a dime from ‘Build-it-Back.’ The letter demands answers to critical funding questions and slams city for dragging its feet and letting the clock run out – passing the recovery effort on to the new Administration:
“Christmas is just around the corner, and some Staten Island families will spend a second holiday season after Sandy without a home,” said Rep. Grimm. “This is completely unacceptable. My constituents are at their wits’ end waiting in limbo on action from the City. They deserve answers on when they will be receiving funds and how much. The City cannot buck its responsibilities any longer or run the clock out until the next Administration. To do so would be a disgrace and permanent blemish on the Mayor's legacy.”
The text of the letter is below the flip:
Dear Mayor Bloomberg,
On behalf of my constituents who remain in limbo awaiting recovery funds, I write once again to secure real answers for families who are spending another holiday season living in or paying for Sandy-ravaged homes without any relief from New York City Build It Back.
The questions I hear every time I walk through the hard-hit areas of my district are invariably the same: When can homeowners expect to receive funding? What is the hold-up? How can I move forward if I don't know if I qualify for assistance? What are my options?
While New York State and New Jersey have inspected tens of thousands of homes and have issued award letters promising hundreds of millions of dollars to storm affected households, it is hard not to conclude that Build It Back is running down the clock and passing the buck to the incoming Mayor, at the expense of more than 26,000 program applicants who are desperate to make decisions which critically affect the well-being of their families, their livelihoods, and their continued success as thriving members of the New York City community. For Staten Islanders specifically, this delay has caused working families the untenable burden of having both mortgage and rent expenses; making tough choices as they exhaust all remaining personal and financial reserves to sustain their properties without knowing if they will ever receive assistance.
On February 6th, $1.8 billion in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding was announced by HUD for the City of New York. The second tranche of CDBG funding in the amount of $1.34 billion was announced on October 28th. As you well know, CDBG funds are the most flexible funding source intended for allocation to unmet needs. To date, the needs of thousands of households throughout New York City have not been met. In fact, they haven't even been addressed. This is an undeniable failure.
Moreover, on November 18th, Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway promised that a memorandum of understanding (MOU)--detailing New York State's financial commitment to the City's home acquisition program, and the City's execution of that program--would be “ironed out within a week.” Information about this program would give some of my constituents hope and others the facts they need to plan for the future. As you know, the MOU has not been signed and this information has not been made public. Instead, homeowners have been inundated with rumors and confusion -- more broken promises for the people of Staten Island.
The frustration among NYC residents awaiting Sandy relief funds cannot be overstated. That these people have been left to struggle with no sense of how the City will help them is unconscionable. They deserve better.
I would like to know what steps you are taking to provide substantive answers that will reassure residents that the long wait for assistance will soon be over. I have worked hard to secure this funding and have continued to do my part by pushing HUD to better recognize the needs of NYC Sandy victims and by taking the lead on legislation aimed at blocking the massive flood insurance hikes that are hanging over the heads of residents in the impacted areas; and I remain a deeply-committed partner with your administration and Governor Cuomo in all efforts towards Sandy recovery. I look forward to your response and continued cooperation in your last days of Mayor of this great City of New York.
Michael G. Grimm
Member of Congress