Government assistance is helping New Yorkers across the five boroughs
A month since Hurricane Sandy struck the New York region, the State and City of New York are hosting several recovery and rebuilding programs to benefit homeowners, business owners, and others willing to assist New Yorkers in need. Following is a recap of several major programs now available in Lower Manhattan and across the five boroughs.
The City of New York has opened seven NYC Restoration Centers as part of NYC Restore -- a comprehensive effort to connect residents and businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy with financial, health, environmental, nutritional and residential services, as well as Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) reimbursement processing. The initiative consists of accessible, neighborhood offices located in the communities that were hit the hardest to provide long-term assistance to New Yorkers. The centers located in Far Rockaway, Gravesend, Coney Island and Staten Island opened November 13th, while the Centers in Red Hook, Breezy Point and Throggs Neck-Pelham Bay opened soon after. The Restoration Centers bring together information and referral to all of the city government services available in the aftermath of the storm. FEMA staff is onsite to perform benefits intake, as well as provide ongoing management and updates of applicants FEMA cases. NYC Restore also partners with non-profit community-based organizations to extend support services in the Restoration Centers.
NYC Rapid Repairs:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on November 21st the authorization of $500 million for NYC Rapid Repairs, the first-of-its-kind program that sends teams of contractors and city inspectors to restore power, heat and hot water to homes impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The emergency spending will allow City Rapid Repair teams to quickly assess and repair damaged homes, and cover the upfront costs so homeowners do not have to pay.
More than 6,000 homeowners have enrolled in NYC Rapid Repairs, and teams have visited nearly 1,700 homes. To date, the city has authorized $1.2 million in emergency spending to restore critical services impacted by Hurricane Sandy, including the $500 million for NYC Rapid Repairs and $500 million to restore public school and hospital buildings.
Homeowners whose property has sustained damage from Sandy can sign up for the NYC Rapid Repairs program by calling 311, visting www.NYC.gov, or visiting a Restoration Center. After signing up, homeowners will be contacted within 48 hours to set up a free assessment -- a home visit by licensed contractors who will review damage and create a work order for necessary repairs to make the home livable. After receiving an assessment, homeowners can choose sign up to have the repair work done by the city's contractors as quickly as possible. They can also choose to have the repairs done by a contractor they hire on their own, using FEMA funds.
A FEMA ID number is required and can be provided through DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362. The Rapid Repairs teams work closely with city agencies, including the Department of Buildings and Department of Housing Preservation and Development, to make sure that any necessary inspections and certifications are done as quickly as possible.
Restoring Power, Heat and Hot Water:
Mayor Bloomberg and Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Matthew Wambua notified building owners and landlords of multi-family residential buildings impacted by Hurricane Sandy that they must restore power, heat, and hot water immediately. Building owners must sign up for NYC Rapid Repairs or take other steps to correct the services, or will be subject to enforcement proceedings.
Home-Improvement Contractors Expedited Licensing:
The city is expediting additional Home Improvement Contractor licenses to encourage unlicensed contractors or those working outside of New York City to work on damaged property within the five boroughs. Home improvement contractors can begin the license application online at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dca/html/licenses/100.shtml, or in person at the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Licensing Center (42 Broadway, 5th Floor). The city encourages DCA-licensed contractors interested in subcontracting as part of NYC Rapid Repairs to register at bteany.com/rapidrepairs.
Support to Businesses:
The New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and Economic Development Corporation (EDC) have put together a package of support for NYC businesses impacted by the storm. The include:
- Emergency low-interest loans of up to $25,000 for businesses that have been interrupted and suffered damage as a result of the storm. Applications are available at any of the Citys NYC Business Solutions Centers, by calling 311 and asking for NYC Business Emergency Loan, or by visiting on.nyc.gov/contactnycbiz.
- For businesses facing significant rebuilding costs, the city will provide sales tax exemptions of up to $100,000 on purchases of materials, equipment and related services needed to rebuild. Learn more at www.nycedc.com/backtobusiness.
- For displaced businesses, the city has identified more than 170,000 square feet that will be made available free of charge, including 40,000 square feet of city space at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, and more than 125,000 square feet of space that private landlords have made available, across the five boroughs. A full listing of commercial spaces and other resources is available at www.nycedc.com/donations.
- Information on disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration is available at any of the NYC Business Solutions Centers, by calling 800-659-2955, or by visiting www.sba.gov/disaster.
Federal assistance is also available to small businesses in need of up to $2 million. These affected businesses can apply for a Disaster Assistance Loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA Business Recovery Centers are stationed, among other locations, at NYC Business Solutions Centers, to help connect small businesses to applications. SBA representatives are currently at the NYC Business Solutions Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan Centers and are working on locating in other Centers, as well. For more information on SBA Disaster Assistance Loans, visit www.sba.gov.
Hurricane Sandy Business Recovery Information:
The city EDC is coordinating various programs and services to help businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy. These programs include emergency loans for working capital, repairs and replacement of real estate, equipment, inventory, and other business assets. Additional resources include temporary work spaces as well as employee retention and assistance programs to help retain your staff during this time. Click here for more details from the EDC's "Business Recovery Information" digital brochure (in PDF format).
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced more than $27 million was allocated in federal grants to hire workers to help clean up communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy. This grant is provided to New Yorkers who lost employment due to Hurricane Sandy, or are unemployed and not receiving unemployment benefits. Interested workers should call 1-888-4-NYSDOL (1-888-469-7365). The New York State Department of Labor will work with local officials to recruit and hire workers. Temporary work for those out of work due to Hurricane Sandy can sign up at: https://labor.ny.gov/secure/neg/2012-hurricane-sandy-form.asp.
Small Business Matching Grant Program:
Mayor Bloomberg announced a new $5.5 million matching grant program for businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The grant program is funded with $5 million from the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City and $500,000 from the Partnership for New York City, and will be administered by the New York Business Development Corporation.
The matching grants are designed to provide additional financial assistance for local businesses already seeking low-interest loans through the city's existing Emergency Loan Fund. The total amount of loans, grants and other financial assistance available to businesses affected by the storm is more than $45 million.
All businesses in need of assistance due to Hurricane Sandy should contact NYC Business Solutions by filling out a Contact an Account Manager form at www.nyc.gov/nycbusiness, calling 311 and asking for NYC Business Solutions, or visiting one of the city's Restoration Centers.
Hurricane Sandy Volunteering Relief Fund:
The Mayor's Office welcomes volunteers in the citys recovery effort. For service opportunities visit NYC Service.
The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to innovative public-private partnerships and programs for the City of New York, is accepting financial donations to support hurricane relief efforts. One hundred percent of donations are being dispersed to relief efforts and organizations. Grant funds have helped to support the supply and transport of emergency needs including hot food, toiletries, baby supplies, cleaning materials, warm clothing and medications to communities hit hardest by the hurricane. The Mayor's Fund is also committed to longer-term rebuilding and restoration efforts including assistance for displaced families, schools, small businesses, nonprofit organizations, parks and other impacted groups. To donate, visit www.nyc.gov/fund or call 311.